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How to Sketch
Atmospheric Effects Outdoors

Sketching Atmospheric Effects

Do you know how to sketch atmospheric effects outdoors?

When sketching outdoors we soon become conscious of a blue tone or haze that seems to envelop the distant objects in the landscape.

This is particularly noticeable when there are hills or mountains in the distance.

The more distant they are the bluer they become.

We soon discover that colors are affected by aerial, sometimes referred to as atmospheric, perspective.

Colors become grayer and bluer as they recede.

Of the basic primary colors it is yellow that first diminishes in intensity.

This becomes evident when we observe hills.

Assume that we are doing a summer subject and all the hills are covered with green foliage.

There is no mistaking the green of the hill close to us, for the yellow is still apparent, but as the hills recede the yellow gradually disappears and the blue predominates.

The next color to diminish is red. An example is immediately apparent in a mountain subject.

As the violet mountains go farther back, the red evaporates and the distant range becomes blue.

In turn, the blue is affected by the atmospheric quality and becomes lighter, finally vanishing in the haze.

The picture opposite is a simplified illustration of aerial values.

It is important to remember that sharp edges come forward and soft edges recede, and to add your details in the shadow areas, not in the light.

Although the illustration has been reduced to just black, and three grays, more intermediate tones of gray could be added.

This is How You Do it:

You may wish to use some of your discarded landscape sketches to experiment with the recession of color as it is affected by the atmosphere.

Select a sketch; it can be oil, water color, or pastel � whose chief fault lies in its being off in tonal values.

Outline in warm colors the objects and large forms that are close to you.

In the middle distance start using cooler colors, until the far distance is rendered with just a faint blue outline which finally disappears completely.

The outline does not have to envelop each shape entirely. Rather, use a "lost-and-found" line.

When completing the altered drawing you will immediately perceive how the warm outline shapes come forward and the cool ones recede.

Finished your Sketch with Atmospheric Effects? Go to the main page on Sketching Outdoors.

Rokeby Venus, by Velazquez


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