My land­scapes look flat. What’s the so­lu­tion?

ImagineFX - - Imag­ine Na­tion Artist Q&A -

Rory Niesh, Eng­land

Lee­sha replies

Il­lus­trat­ing the ef­fect of at­mo­spheric per­spec­tive will add in­stant depth to your paint­ings. There are only a few sim­ple rules to keep in mind.

Essen­tially, when view­ing an ob­ject from a dis­tance, cer­tain fac­tors will af­fect how that ob­ject ap­pears. The main fac­tor is light scat­ter­ing or dis­tri­bu­tion, which is caused by par­ti­cles in the air such as dust, hu­mid­ity or smoke.

A few things will hap­pen to an ob­ject the fur­ther away it is from the viewer. There are al­ways ex­cep­tions to ev­ery rule, but for most cases these will ap­ply. The ob­ject’s con­trast and sat­u­ra­tion will de­crease, and its val­ues will be­come higher. The de­tails within a shape will soften, but for ‘ hard’ shapes such as rocks or moun­tains, their sil­hou­ette edges will re­main nice and sharp. Dis­tant ob­jects will also shift to­wards a sim­i­lar tint as the sky. This can, of course, be any colour you choose: from blue, to or­ange, to green (hey, alien plan­ets need love, too).

My process for paint­ing at­mo­spheric per­spec­tive be­gins with my ini­tial sketch phase. It’s im­por­tant to lay down your gen­eral shapes and colours early on, to en­sure that the dis­tance and depth is com­mu­ni­cat­ing well. Tak­ing a ‘ light band­ing’ ap­proach is a great way to em­pha­sise depth in a paint­ing, by con­sis­tently lay­er­ing the lighter ar­eas against darker ar­eas.

I usu­ally avoid zoom­ing in and be­com­ing dis­tracted with de­tail un­til much later in the paint­ing process. When I be­gin to add de­tails, I’ll of­ten use the Lasso and Quick Se­lec­tion tools to help pre­serve any hard edges, es­pe­cially if I hap­pen to be work­ing on a sin­gle layer.

The moun­tains are vis­ually re­ced­ing into the back­ground as they be­come lighter and take on more of a blue tint. In con­trast, the fore­ground is quite dark and sat­u­rated.

Make sure to al­ways keep your value range close when paint­ing de­tails into rocks and moun­tains, es­pe­cially when they’re fur­ther away, be­cause there’ll be less con­trast.

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