Atmospheric perspective – also called aerial perspective – is the effect you get when far away objects take on the colors of atmospheric haze.
(1) Objects’ saturation decreases with distance. The Color Saturation of objects in the background decreases with distance. They lose their original color saturation and take on the atmosphere’s colors.
(2) Contrast decreases with distance. Low contrast means that there isn’t much difference between the brightest and darkest areas. Low contrast does not mean blurred!
(3) Brightness increases with distance. The diagram below shows how aerial perspective affects contrast and brightness. Section 1 has maximum contrast between the land and lake with the land being almost black. By the time you reach Section 5, the contrast is almost gone and the brightness has increased.
(4) Edges remain sharp even when far away. Look closely at the images in this post to convince yourself this is true, particularly at the edges of mountains.
(5) As the aerial perspective effect intensifies (e.g. heavy fog, pollution), the distance at which objects take on the atmosphere’s color and value decreases. In other words closer objects become more affected by atmospheric haze as the effect intensifies.
(6) Atmospheric perspective may be weakened by strong lighting. If there is extra lighting on something in the distance – for example due to the sun illuminating something through a break in the clouds – that lit object will regain more of its original contrast and saturation compared to unlit objects at a similar distance. Check out this amazing painting by Andrée Wallin:
The mountaintop lit up by a ray of sunlight is visible in great detail compared to its darkened surroundings. The fog shrouded ship silhouette adds a sense of mystery to the piece. Studying Andrée’s painting it is clear he deeply understands aerial perspective and has applied this knowledge to impressive effect.
Your assignment: Create a Landscape incorporating the concept of Atmospheric perspective. - Use our larger watercolor paper for this - If at all possible, try to find a personal photo that has some kind of meaning to yourself or others - Look through hard copy photos at home; I can scan them for you - Create a 4inch x 4inch sample "saturation scale" of 5 colors pulled from your photograph that you will use for distance reference. Put them in order from closest to furthest. Tape this down to the same board as your painting. - Your final painting should illustrate a sense of depth and a distinct progression through space using the concept of Atmospheric Perspective. - The choice of media is up to you. However, if you use watercolor then the foreground must be rendered in a fairly detailed fashion with abundant value (not washed out everywhere) EMAIL ME YOUR IMAGES - firstname.lastname@example.org