Aerial Perspective In A Rural Scene

Aerial perspective is all about value change

In this lesson we’ll paint a rainy day scene.  But,  we are really trying to capture the look of aerial perspective which is really exaggerated on rainy, hazy and misty kinds of days.

The watercolor medium makes this subject easier than you would think, but it is still a bit of an advanced lesson.   So, have courage and give it a try!

Aerial Perspective

Aerial perspective – also called atmospheric perspective – is a system used by artists to represent the effect of atmosphere on distant objects – in effect representing space and distance in our painting.

This lesson is primarily focused on really showing off that effect by applying aerial perspective. We’ll make conscious decisions about the color and values we’ll use on  shapes that represent distant objects.  To help out, we’ll be painting a rainy day which has the kind of atmosphere that really exaggerates the effect.

Value Arrangement

There is a value sketch for this lesson that we’ll use to guide us through the painting and really show off the aerial perspective.

The value sketch is very simple in that it breaks the picture plane into three areas of space and assigns a single value to each area.  In this case the light values are in the background, the middle values are in the middle ground and the darkest values are in the foreground.  This arrangement really supports the idea of aerial perspective as you’ll see.

A Note On The Drawing Layout

One note on the drawing layout. The downloadable layouts are done with heavy lines to make it easy to see and copy onto your watercolor paper. It is best not to draw the lines too heavy on your paper, especially in the sky, since there is a good chance the lines will show through the paint. It’s not a deal-breaker, but those heavy pencil lines are sometimes a distraction.

What you’ll need

  • Brushes – 1 1/2″ Flat, Medium and Small Rounds, Rigger
  • Colors – Permanent Aliarin Crimson, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Quinacridone Deep Gold, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue
  • Watercolor paper – preferably Arches 140lb Cold Press cut to about 7″ x 11″ or so


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