Atmospheric perspective in art creates the illusion of space in a 2D artwork.
- Watch the 38 min. video (Jordan, Cat, Prof Lieu)
- Watch the 43 min. video (Prof Lieu)
Atmospheric perspective emphasizes spatial intervals, the distance between objects where as objects recede into the distance, they become less detailed, lower in contrast, and more blurry.
Objects in the foreground by contrast are articulated with crisp details and high contrast in order to anchor them in the composition.
Using paintings and drawings from contemporary art and art history, concrete examples illustrate how atmospheric perspective is used by artists to achieve the effect of space.
- Backgrounds are important, they create a context for figures and objects to exist within.
- Space is literally everywhere!
- Space is challenging because it’s intangible & invisible.
- In 2D artwork, atmospheric perspective is the illusion of depth moving back into space.
- Objects closer to the viewer appear more articulate, detailed, and higher in contrast.
- Objects further back in space are blurrier, lower in contrast and have little detail.
- Atmospheric perspective can function on a large, epic space, or even just a few objects sitting on a table in a still life.
- You can see atmospheric perspective in abstract art as well, depending on what parts of the painting pop out due to having more detailed areas in the foreground.
- Be willing to stray from your reference photo and apply concepts of atmospheric perspective to increase the illustration of space.
- Often being too faithful to your reference photo can make the sense of space more flat and confusing.
- Search for “spatial intervals,” the space between objects.
- Define the space by the spatial intervals you observe.
- Aim to push parts of the image backwards, and other parts forwards in space.
- Changing the scale of the same object can effectively show space.
- Overlapping objects is helpful to convey where objects sit within the space in relation to each other.
- Atmospheric perspective can also be effective with a flat, graphic style.
- Atmospheric perspective is not determined by the value or a specific color, (how dark an object is) rather it is about how crisply something is articulated, or how blurry it is depending on it’s location in space.
- Color is a part of how atmospheric perspective functions; more intense, saturated colors will pop forward more than muted ones in the distance.
- Atmospheric perspective allows you as the artist to be a director; you can pointing to your audience parts of the artwork that you want them to pay attention to more.
- Ma Yuan
- Alexander Dux
- WPA Posters
- Norman Ackroyd
- Lotte Reinger
- George Tooker
- Julie Heffernan
- Caspar David Friedrich
- Antony Gormley
- Antoin Vollon
- Shaun Tan
- Chris van Allsburg
- Sylvia Plimack Mangold
- Wanda Koop
- Robert ParkeHarrison
- Kentaro Miura
- L.S. Lowry
- Norman Ackroyd
- Andrew Wyeth
Films & TV Shows mentioned
- Arcane, 2021 TV series
- Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, 2022 TV series
- Sherlock, 2010 TV series
- Stranger Things, 2016 TV series
- X2: X-Men United, 2003 film
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