How to draw a landscape?

If you are concerned about how to fill your landscape with depth, space, air and volume – this article will be interesting for you.

Read about  important things that every novice artist needs to know and use while painting the landscape!

If you paint with oil, watercolor, pastel, gouache, acrylic or pencils – these rules will be useful. Landscape and perspective cannot be set apart. It is impossible to paint a good landscape without using the rules of aerial or linear perspective.

Aerial perspective

An aerial perspective in all cases is present in any landscape. What is an aerial perspective? To put it simply, the rule of an aerial perspective indicate that: The farther away an object or subject is from the observer, the less clearly it is visible. Therefore, the farther away an object is from us, the less clearly we need to paint it.

Foreground and background

Isaac Levitan “Spring in Italy” 1890.

In the foreground, you can distinguish flowers on branches and decks of a wooden fence. The farther from the contemplator – the less clear the shapes and strokes are.

When painting foreground, you can draw everything in detail (bricks on houses, patterns, wood texture, flowers, irregularities of tree trunks, car designs etc.). Also you can use saturated colors.

The farther you go “inward” into the forest or the city, the less clearly you need to paint details. Use less of bright colors, and try to make a mist. If you keep everything in 100% focus in the landscape, the viewer will get confused and will have a logical question: “What is the main thing in this painting?”.

It is not typical for the human eye to equally clearly see a flower close by and the one that is 20 steps away from it.

Aerial perspective makes the work more voluminous, spacious, airy.

Color in aerial perspective

The second rule of aerial perspective reveals the essence of why this kind of perspective was called the “aerial perspective”? Everything on our planet is shrouded with air. Accordingly, the farther an object is from us, the more air is imposed on it.

For the observer, an object that is far away acquires the color of the airspace in which it is located. Examples of works with the air perspective:


Landscape “Poppy Field”.

Bushes, hills, fields in the distance acquired a warm pink-orange shade of sunset sky and sun.

Landscape “Cypress trees in the mountains”.

Mountains in the distance seem to be blue.

The more gloomy the sky is, the more its color and light will be transmitted to everything around. If you paint a foggy morning, rainy or snowy landscape, the more haze and inexpressiveness should be in the distance. Feel free to “blur” everything that is far from the observer.

In daylight, a schematic aerial perspective can be shown like this:


Schematic representation of an aerial perspective in daylight.

These are just lines, but they look like a landscape.

The rule of the air perspective: brown color in the distance turns to green, green color in the distance loses its intensity and turns blue or pale-blue.

Linear perspective

A linear perspective combined with aerial perspective will help to create an even more realistic landscape. You will have correct, easily and well-perceived picture.

The basic rule of linear perspective: all parallel lines in a landscape converge at one point.

Linear Perspective Schemes

linear perspective

Linear perspective – all parallel lines converge at one point. The initial stage of work on the urban landscape.

Camille Pizarro “Boulevard of Montmartre in Paris” 1897.

Parallel lines of houses and roads go into the distance and converge at one point.

“Autumn alley” by Leonid Afremov.

An excellent linear perspective can be seen.

When you paint a series of identical trees, lanterns, columns, houses in a linear perspective, all of them in distance will visually decrease into perspective, and the distance between these objects will also be reduced.

As an example, “Rain Alley” of Leonid Afremov:

In “Rain Alley” each next lantern is closer to the previous one.

The white line is the horizon line, the green dot in the center is the point of convergence, the red lines indicate the height of lanterns.

Perspective and perception

When painting something in a linear perspective, you should know and understand that your viewer’s eyes will always follow the alley, road or path and will come to the point of convergence. Make the road, along which the viewer’s eye follows, interesting, colorful, diverse, not monotonous or boring. Portray something most important, crucial, interesting where the road converges at one point.

Examples of paintings:

“Mountains in bloom”. A mountain road leads to the house in the distance.

“Gardens in bloom”. The observer looks from the hill at the path leading to the houses in the distance.

Knowing and following these few very simple rules will help you to avoid mistakes. These advices will help to create beautiful harmonious landscapes filled with depth, spaciousness and air. If you want some tips on how to sketch faces – check this article.

Comments (4)

Leave a Reply