Tap to Read ➤

Atmospheric Perspective

Shashank Nakate
Atmospheric perspective is the effect which the atmosphere puts on any object which is viewed from a distance. This effect can also be generated by the painters or artists with the help of various colors. Find more about this subject in the following post.
The phenomenon of atmospheric perspective is also known by the name, aerial perspective. It is the way in which atmosphere changes appearance of an object which is distant to eyes. Reduction of contrast takes place as a result of increase in the distance between viewer and object.
Colors become pale or less saturated and are shifted towards the background. Details and sharpness too are lost due to aerial perspective. Density of the texture increases as a result of increase in the distance of viewer and object.

Definition of Atmospheric Perspective

The definition of aerial perspective from the artist's point of view can be put forth as follows: a method used in the creation of recession or illusion of depth by means of color modulation.

Atmospheric/Aerial Perspective in Art

The use of this perspective in art helps creating illusion of depth. It is used by filmmakers, painters and draftsmen as well. Leonardo da Vinci studied aerial perspective in detail and made the relevant measurements. He also devised few rules for the realistic depiction of atmosphere perspective in paintings.
The term, aerial perspective too was coined by Leonardo Da Vinci. A simple method or probably, formula for creating paintings with aerial perspective was created by Leonardo. The important or nearest objects in the painting as per the formula, should be painted in the real/true colors.
Farther objects should be given a lighter shade. Greater the distance between viewer and the object, lighter has to be the shade. The incorporation of the concept of atmospheric perspective in paintings helps in giving them a realistic look. Also the drawings become far more beautiful than those made without the consideration of aerial perspective.
It is not necessary that one should always go for the blue shades to get that effect. The haze or misty appearance in most of the cases is depicted by the blue color. However, the scenes including sunrise and sunset should have a reddish-golden tinge.
Objects with an upward angle can be drawn alongside the sky and ground lines so as to give a feel of depth. Intensity of nearer objects should be greater. A medium gray-shade should be added as the distance increases. Painting the shadows in a proper manner is also important in such artworks.

History of Atmospheric Perspective Painting

The first known paintings which make use of aerial perspective are from Netherlands. These paintings were created in 15th century and laid the foundation of the modern atmospheric perspective art.
The paintings were analyzed and studied by Leonardo da Vinci, Alberti and Leon Battista. These polymaths provided descriptions of such paintings however, the descriptions varied in accuracy. The paintings of Leonardo da Vinci viz., 'The Last Supper' and 'Mona Lisa' are known to have incorporated the phenomenon of atmospheric/aerial perspective.

Relation between Contrast and Clarity

Contrast sensitivity is the concept that determines accuracy with which a human eye captures details. The details in a particular image can be viewed because of high spatial frequencies. These high spatial frequencies cannot be viewed properly if contrast of that image is reduced.
One should not confuse the phenomenon of blurring with that of atmospheric perspective. When we see a blurred image, contrast of only the high spatial frequencies is reduced. On the other hand, in atmospheric/aerial perspective, contrast of all the spatial frequencies is reduced.
The concept of atmospheric perspective can be understood in a better manner with the help of information presented above. The use of aerial perspective in paintings and other forms of visual arts give a realistic look to the artworks.