Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tutorial: Creating Depth and Space

(Lyric here) I love to look down a path. I wonder about the mystery of what lies just beyond my view. Creating that illusion of depth, the feeling of walking into another world through a sketch or painting or any two dimensional artwork is not as hard as it might appear.

Photo by Julia Wade

Think for a moment about the three dimensional world we live in. Every day we look out a window into the distance or move through the space of our home. As we try to interpret what we see and experience in a piece of art, there are many techniques that help us to create the illusion of depth in space on a flat surface.
Pathways by Lyric Kinard
Take a look at this tiny quilt.  Even though each piece of fabric representing a tree becomes smaller, our mind interprets it as a line of similarly sized trees receding into the distant landscape. The tree shapes also overlap one another and as the path recedes the trees are placed farther up within the frame of the work.  

The simplest devices to show depth are SIZE, OVERLAP and VERTICAL PLACEMENT. The closer an object is to us the larger it appears so it stands to reason that if you have similar elements and you increase their size, the larger ones will appear to come forward. 

See? Not so hard. Check back here next week for a little tutorial on perspective and vanishing points.


  1. Wow- I like this reminder! and the idea
    of illustrative quilts...Thanks.

  2. I knew that - HA! Great quickie and the illustrations let me see that yes, I did know that, now use it. Thanks. LoriW at Art Camp for Women

  3. Nice little quilt, and good information, except I would add that objects and colors in the foreground should be brighter and darker than colors in the distance. In a landscape distant objects are hazed and blued by the water/dust in the atmosphere. So the tree colors in a painting should blue a bit the further in the distance they are.

  4. Love the photo Lyric, I think it would make a beautiful quilt too! I've always loved paths that curve away into the distance, something romantic or mysterious about them is intriguing.

  5. Nice, Lyric. I love that part in your book about depth and space!

  6. Absolutely right Kathy - and if I had been using "real" colors for the landscape that would have been the way to go. Thanks for your addition!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.