Tips for Artists: Creating Better Depth in Your Painting

Landscape painting may seem like magic, when artists replicate a beautiful three dimensional scene on a two dimensional canvas. But this transcription between flat and spatial is not always easy to achieve and artists who are well practiced in creating depth achieve more success in the art industry. There is a science behind the magic and here you will find some painting methodologies vital to helping you create the most realistic depth in your works.

One of the first keys to dimensionality is layering and overlap within a visual space. Contrast between two areas helps to separate objects from each other, therefore it is important to draw items overlapped rather than envisioning them as individual or separate objects. A landscape painting should be a first-person view of the ‘real’ or three dimensional scene and overlapping elements quickly gives this sense of necessary perspective.

Another important technique is using diagonal marks or changes in topography. Diagonal elements in a painting give the sense of receding horizons on the two dimensional surface of a canvas. Often a shift in topography can be achieved by utilizing an S shape, such as a river or curving path, in your painting. This can be a more difficult element for artists to integrate into their work, but it guides the viewer’s eye through the landscape and provides the dimension necessary to illustrate perspective and depth.

Lastly, the type of brush strokes and size of objects in the foreground versus background is important to illustrate distance. The further away the object is from the viewer, the blurrier and smaller it appears. Despite the reality that trees do not shrink the farther away they are, the eye says otherwise. To accurately create the blurred edges the eye perceives, you might try squinting in order to create a blurred visual that then can then be translated to paint. This technique is used by many successful and popular landscape painters today. Equipped with these tools and tips each artist can, with creativity and skill, begin to transform a two dimensional surface into a three dimensional image.

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