Extreme Atmospheric Perspective

The drawing in this exercise should show how light can reveal the structure of forms and establish a sense of space. You want to bring together your knowledge of creating volume through light and shadow with the ideas of atmospheric perspective.


Working with any other classmates who choose this project, set up a still life of objects with a foreground, middle ground, and background. Crowd the space with the objects and direct a single light source at the setup moving it until you have clear lights, shadows, and cast shadows. Try to create an interesting composition of values.


Tone your page with vine charcoal, covering the service evenly in a middle grade tone. Begin to erase out the value shapes and draw in the darker values. Do not consider individual objects until you have developed all large value areas. As you progress, pay more attention to individual objects, pulling the closest ones forward in space and letting the farther ones fade out and lose both contrast and detail. Push the idea of atmospheric perspective to deepen the space. Try to achieve the illusion of 10 miles of space from this comparatively shallow set up. [Note: if you would like to experiment with other media, you are welcome to do so.]


 To make the form a more solid or to increase the depth of space, edit or change the light and shadows wherever you need to. Address the negative shapes around the objects as convincingly as you draw the objects themselves. Call objects closer to you with high contrast and sharp detail. Exaggerate the losing contrast and fading details for objects farther from you. Try to compose such that your drawing composition has a strong value structure.


Minimally adapted from Drawing: Structure and Vision, by Drury and Stryker