Introduction to Landscape Painting Part 5: Atmospheric Perspective

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    New Masters AcademyNew Masters Academy
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    Atmospheric Perspective is the effect of things becoming lighter, less saturated, and less detailed as they go back into space. In this painting lesson, you will learn how to render this effect correctly, and add another layer of depth to your paintings.

    Landscape painting in a studio compared to painting on-location are completely different experiences, each with their own set of challenges to face. Painting landscapes on-location means you’re faced with constantly changing natural lighting, as well as nature, but the experience itself can really make your inspiration flow.

    In this painting course, Artist Ben Fenske teaches you the fundamentals of landscape painting through a series of lessons. These lessons include easy to follow instruction, analysis of famous landscape paintings, and demonstrations shot on-location, to help you better your painting skills.

    Vansh choraria
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    When ben says you’re supposed to decrease the amount of yellow as things go back into space,am i supposed to think of it as Desaturating the colour? . He added red/orange in the green yellow mixture to decrease the yellow,am i supposed to think of it just as desaturating colour or specifically getting rid of the yellow? Also, wouldn’t purple do a good job or diluting the yellow ?

    Vera Coberley
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    I had to think about this, as well. The following is not exactly an answer, but my personal attempt to better understand the mechanics of atmospheric perspective.

    1. Due to shorter wave length, blue light scatters more easily than other colors, thus making objects that are further away appear bluer and lighter
    2. The further things are away, the more refracted the reflected light becomes (due to particles in the atmosphere), thus “blending” all colors and desaturating them

    Below is a photo from a recent hike of mine. You can see that the blue effect is stronger the further away the objects are, but the middle ground is already showing some desaturation – the pine trees look slightly more brown than the pines in the foreground, and the aspens look more orange than yellow (although, when I used a color picker, the “orange” color was actually registered as a desaturated yellow). There are some interesting articles on human color perception of yellow: 1)  we tend to equate “yellow” with bright, saturated yellow 2) blue light dampens neurons that react to yellow light, and vice versa, so perhaps, by eliminating yellow, we trick the eye to perceive more blue.

    In short, it seems that a slight desaturation of color in the middle ground can signal distance, and that from a painterly perspective, you’d want to reserve your stronger blue slant for the far distance. Perhaps the use of purple vs red desaturation/yellow cancellation depends on your artistic goals and the local color of the object.

    Aspen trees in mountains

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