How can I bring a sense of depth to my artworks?
Tom Cattington, Germany
If you’re determined to make your paintings look three-dimensional then there are a number of art techniques that you’ll need to learn and master. But let’s start with this: your object needs to be well lit. This is crucial if it’s to look realistic and have a recognisable form. It’s the shadows of a lit form that helps a viewer interpret it as three-dimensional, so getting your form shadows and cast shadows right is crucial!
Painting a still life composition is a simple exercise that you can do to gain a better grasp of this concept. Set up a simple still life of an apple or onion under good lighting conditions, and try to draw the values as correctly as possible. I promise you that looking at still life setups will make your art develop at a rapid pace. You should also study perspective. Depicting objects that overlap in a painting is a sure-fire way to create a sense of depth. Finally, the use of blurred edges for objects that recede in space and sharp edges for objects that you want to be prominent will effectively communicate a sense of depth in a painting.
I use sharp cast shadows to push her chin and nose out from the plane of the face. The overlap creates even more depth.
This simple sphere study demonstrates the importance of getting your shadows right. Blurring the edges on the furthermost object pushes it into the distance.