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Lesson 3 from: Learn to Draw: Landscape

Amy Wynne

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Lesson Info

3. Depth

Lesson Info


When you're making a picture outdoors I find one of the most exciting things is trying to show the deep space that's often visibile when you choose your vista. And there are strategies for making that more dramatic, and I'm gonna show you some of those. We're actually initially gonna look at them by looking at this awesome Van Gogh drawing. In this drawing they're a lot of moments where he's used some really important ideas to help create, sort of, a deep space. So, we have these awesome trees that he's drawn in pen and ink and they are just through an overlay here. I'm gonna diagram some of the things that he's done. Sort of trying like, enter the mind of Van Gogh and also maybe when I ultimately show you the view that we're gonna draw together to enter the mind of the artist. There a lot of things that we think about as we move along that overtime you'll internalize and work with. So here, if you look at the way that these trees stack back in space they actually go along sort of a on...

e point perspective kind of line. So that they're all lined up here. Even though if you were a bird flying by from above, maybe they'd be parallel to each other in this grove of trees. What's happening in this image is that because of perspective these lines are converging. These diagonals are converging. So what it appears to be way back here, these appear to be much closer together then what's happening up front where these feel much further apart. So that's definitely one thing that you want to look for when you're out drawing. If you're looking down a roadway or if you're looking down some railroad tracks or a grove of trees that are lined up in this way, notice how the lines diminish and move towards each other. Another thing that he's used here that I use a lot as well is looking at a fore ground tree, like this tree right here. This tree is a particular width. These trees are probably all about the same age, and they're also all about the same size. But if we look at the width of this tree and then maybe we go way back into the composition and look at one of these trees way back here. This width compared to that width, it's so much smaller, and that's diminishment. It's like when things change their scale because of distance. And so that's something you'll also want to find out. If you can look into the distance and see a very tiny tree, but you know that that's actually kind of the same circumference as the tree right in front of you. Notice how many times you might be able to fit that width of that tree into the tree in front. And that's also gonna help you create dramatic space. Another element of creating depth is the use of overlap. So when you set up, you may have multiple trees all lined up in front of you without them overlapping each other. But if you shift your position, you might be able to create some really obvious overlaps. And when something's overlapping something else you know that that thing is in front of that thing. And so it seems like common sense, but sometimes we don't think about that when we're all excited to draw. So shifting your view even five inches side to side can actually create overlaps that might not have been there before. So in this drawing there are many places where he's created branches overlapping other branches. And to emphasize that in a drawing will really help create space. Also having a definitive horizon line. Which isn't always true of drawings, but in this case, there's a horizon line that cuts behind everything in the distance. We know that that's our most distant spot. So visualizing what the really, really far place is versus the really, really near place, which would be the texture of this grass up here If you look at it more carefully, you can see how active and textural the fore ground is. And then back here it gets a little more abstract and a little bit more, sort of, misty. And that use of detail up front and more vague mark making in the back, is also something that can really create depth. And that's something that we start to talk about. Atmospheric perspective. Where the fore ground's really detailed and the backgrounds much softer. That's also gonna create a lot of drama. So when you set up to work, think of these ideas: overlap, scale change, atmospheric perspective. Think about how you can see them and remind yourself of those ideas in order to make your drawings have dramatic depth and beauty.

Ratings and Reviews

Diane Boland

Amy is an excellent at teaching in a clear and concise way and getting exactly to the point. A good brief introduction to get you started in landscape drawing. I'm not sure it was exactly as I expected but the information presented is important for any beginner. Class was fairly brief but I still need to learn to put what I see down. My tree looks nothing like hers. This is where i need help next and was not really covered. I could easily take more of her classes if she had them.

a Creativelive Student

I cannot understand the few people who were critical of this class. She gives dozens of excellent ideas for the beginning landscape artist. Especially helpful was the explanation and use of the viewfinder to focus your drawing. Five stars fom me to her. Thank you! Extremely helpful and inspirational.


Good tips on relaxing and enjoying the outdoors before you begin drawing. Great course.

Student Work