Part 3: Project 4: Exercise 3 – Aerial or atmospheric perspective


Another way of creating a sense of distance is through aerial or atmospheric perspective. This refers to the way that distant objects appear less distinct and colour intensity fades towards blue-grey as objects recede.

This exercise is about tonal gradation. When you’re working with perspective and the suggestion of distance, you should notice that tonal values become lighter as the amount of space between the eye and the horizon increases. Detail is less clear and focus steadily reduced. If there is moisture in the air greater ‘fogging’ occurs and, even on a fine day, it can seem as though veils of blue are layered across the mid to far distance.

In hot and arid zones, aerial perspective barely exists and the hottest tones (such as the reds in the rocky outcrops of the Australian desert) retain their saturated depth far into the distance.

Using drawing media such as charcoal, soft graphite, conté sticks, soft chalky pastel, oil sticks and ink, make several tonal studies that analyse receding features of the landscape from foreground to mid and far distance.

With a light touch, establish the horizon before plotting the basic forms of objects in the landscape. Analyse the gradation of tone away into the distance. You may prefer to use a single colour, using monochrome as a tonal and atmospheric tool.

In the image below the artist has used a soft reddish grey palette across the whole scene to suggest a misty atmosphere that contrasts with the strong linear drawing style. This is a quite different approach to the use of colour and tone, but equally atmospheric.

Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 3 - course notes image
Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Tower of St Ia, St Ives, 1963 (pencil and mixed media)


Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 3 - Aerial or atmospheric perspective - tonal study 1
Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 3 – Aerial or atmospheric perspective – tonal study 1

A view from the adjoining field looking over our house and two neighbouring houses towards the hills of Glenurquhart Forest park. In the winter the sun never makes it over the horizon between late November until late February, so I was lucky to catch the light for this drawing before the clocks turn back at the end of October. This was drawn from the field on a sunny Autumn afternoon and the light in the air made it quite challenging to capture the atmospheric perspective, but I think with eyes squinting you can just about catch the movement upwards from darker to lighter tones from ground level to a more shimmery hill line.

Drawn with Conté crayon.

Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 3 - Aerial or atmospheric perspective - tonal study 2
Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 3 – Aerial or atmospheric perspective – tonal study 2

A trip up the Sutherland coast to one of my favourite spots – Brora Harbour – drawn from across the River Brora looking down and across to the horizon line just above the rooftop on the left, out over the Moray Firth towards the Aberdeen shire coast. Drawn with Fineliner pen and washed in using Inktense block and waterbrush.

I’m not too sure that my dark(ish) foreground, moving up through the middle ground to the background and horizon line above the houses shows enough of a tonal transition of colour.

Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 3 - Aerial or atmospheric perspective - tonal study 3
Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 3 – Aerial or atmospheric perspective – tonal study 3

Another wee jaunt to a favourite location, this time along the Aberdeenshire coast.

This is a charcoal and soft pastel drawing of Banff harbour from the outer wall looking to the inner-basin with the streetscape behind. View up the hill over the houses to the skyline.

No cityscapes here – yet. Much of my landscape country is rural and/or coastline.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
22 October 2015

Part 3: Project 4: Exercise 2 – Angular perspective


Two-point or angular perspective. The limitations of parallel perspective make it impossible to depict ‘corner-on’ views of objects, i.e. when an object doesn’t have a straight edge facing the viewer. Angular perspective was developed for views of this kind so that, for example, two sides of a building which are actually at right angles to each other can be drawn receding to two separate vanishing points.

Make a line drawing of a building or several buildings seen corner-on. If this isn’t possible, arrange a group of books on a table with the books all seen corner-on. The books should be different sizes, with some placed on top of others.

Use every possible vertical or horizontal reference to ensure that receding lines are drawn at the correct angles. If you’re drawing buildings remember that the vertical corner of the building itself is an excellent reference.

When you’ve drawn the objects as accurately as possible, draw in your eye level and extend receding lines to it. If you’ve drawn buildings outdoors you’ll want to do this part of the exercise afterwards at home. All parallel lines should meet on your eye level but, in this drawing, you’ll have many vanishing points and you’ll discover that most of them will be off your paper.

Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 2 - course notes image
Sir Muirhead Bone, Rome, 1910 (pencil)

This drawing relies strongly on the use of perspective to draw your eye along the street and thus creates a busy city scene rather than a straightforward architectural drawing. Check the accuracy of the drawing by copying a simplified version into your sketch book and then continuing the perspective lines to the vanishing point.


Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 2 - Angular perspective
Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 2 – Angular perspective

This is a sketch of our house in Balnain, Glenurquhart standing face on to the corner of the building and showing the angular, two point perspective, with two vanishing points along the horizon line/eye level – VP’s to left and right of the building.

I also made a rough sketch of Bone’s “Rome” pencil sketch and extending the perspective lines – mostly to a single vanishing point on the horizon line/eye level. There are a couple of the perspective lines that are a bit of a mis-match, but I suspect this is due more to my inaccuracies of line.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
22 October 2015

Part 3: Project 4: Exercise 1 – Parallel perspective, an interior view


Draw a view through a doorway inside a building. It could be a view from one room into another or a view from a room into a corridor or hall. Try to arrange it so that there is a rectangular rug or something similar in front of the doorway. If the walls and the floor are tiled or have some kind of geometric pattern that will be ideal. Position yourself to draw so that the doorway is flat on to you, as is the rug in front of it.

Draw in line (use tone as well if you wish) and check the angles of all receding lines against the horizontal and vertical lines of the doorframe. Don’t use a ruler or a rubber. Draw and re-draw these angles until you think they are correct and then stop for a moment. Estimate the height of your eyes from the ground and mark on the doorframe in your drawing where this point would be. If you wish, stand next to the actual doorframe and mark the level of your eyes there. Whichever method you use, next use a ruler to draw a horizontal line across your drawing at your eye level.

As you’ve seen, the basic rule of perspective states that lines that are actually parallel will recede to a single vanishing point. Now check your drawing to see whether they do. Extend these receding lines using a ruler and see whether they meet. If, as is probable, they meet in a variety of places, make one pair meet on your eye level. Then, using a ruler, draw other lines which are parallel to these to meet at the same vanishing point. In this way you are constructing a perspective drawing on top of your drawing made from observation. Spend some time checking what you can actually see and comparing it first with your initial drawing and then with the superimposed perspective drawing.

Make notes in your learning log on your experience of this exercise. Did using a ruler help you?

Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 1 - course notes image
Joseph Gandy, Sir Francis Chantrey’s Sculpture Gallery (watercolour and pencil on paper)

Finished drawing

Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 1 - Parallel perspective - an interior view with eye level line
Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 1 – Parallel perspective – an interior view with eye level line

This is a drawing of an interior in my sister-in-law’s Caithness croft house. It was a tricky composition as the house was in the process of renovation with only new flooring boards down on the joists and a remodelled archway between the lounge and the kitchen. Being an old croft building the walls were challenging to say the least – my eye got them as straight as I could without being untruthful to the reality.

Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 1 - Parallel perspective - an interior view with perspective lines
Part 3 Project 4 Exercise 1 – Parallel perspective – an interior view with perspective lines

In this scanned version of the drawing I have overlaid the perspective lines as I see them – red lines leading to Vanishing Point 1 through the window to the fields beyond. The lines follow the skirting boards, flooring joins, kitchen sink unit lines and an approximation of the lines of curve in the doorway arch.

Vanishing Point 2 is slightly above and to the right of VP1 and the lines come from a cupboard on the left, window ledge on the right and approximations of where the archway door at the kitchen side begin their curve over the top.

Some of the lines are not accurately matched over the original drawing lines as the ruler showed these up as being not quite right (slightly out). There is something a bit squiffy about the perspective – but you know, I think that’s what’s so charming about old buildings.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
15 October 2015