When illustration in a reality style, it is beneficial to draw from direct observation, or through using referral images.

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However, for an initial lay out or when drawing from imagination, there are several proven approaches to create the illusion that depth.

Unlike flat objects, 3D objects show up to have actually volume and also therefore indicate depth.

A three-dimensional thing will have highlight and shadow locations depending on wherein the light resource is located.

Flat vs 3D object through volume
Pen and also ink olive tree

According to the rule of perspective, the farther things is, the smaller sized it will certainly look.

For that reason, as soon as drawing similar objects in different sizes, one can conclude that smaller sized objects space farther away, thus create a sense of depth.

Objects with various size
Pen and ink olive trees

Size can also be provided to create a sense of space.

Adding little objects to a defined an are will do it look big:

Small object defines big space

In most cases, the base of closer objects will certainly be lower on the drawing surface and also the top part of near objects will certainly be higher than much objects.


This happens as soon as the horizon is put in the middle (more on the later).

The reason is the observer"s intuitive angle, meaning not measure up in meters but in degrees, in perspective.

The contrast between the dark and also light locations decreases, as does the lot of details, as an object is aside from that away.

That is come say, when illustration or painting, locations with high contrast will come forward and areas with less contrast will recede.


When an item or surface ar ends in a spicy way, it way it has a difficult edge.

Soft edges are once objects end in a steady way, from dark come light.

Foreground objects will certainly have tough edges and therefore in focus.

Background objects will have soft edges and also therefore blurry.

Dividing your illustration into ground and sky by a horizon line, hill range, vegetation or any other way, attests to depth.

In addition, by including ground, the objects avoid "hovering".


Your drawing surface is flat! You have no depth, only width and height.

As objects are closer come the horizon, they show up farther away.

In the photo above, trees that are higher on the drawing surface (toward the horizon) will certainly look aside from that away.

Clouds that are lower on the drawing surface (toward the horizon) will certainly look farther away.

For a perform of tools that I usage for drawing, visit my guide for pencil illustration supplies.

Objects in prior of the viewer, such together buildings, trees, mountains, people, etc., will look smaller sized as they room farther away, yet will keep the ratio in between height and also width. This method that there will certainly be no distortion.

On the various other hand, as soon as we change the thing (or our) angle of sight, and the object is currently along the heat of sight, it will get shorter in the direction.

This distortion is because of the angle of sight. The much more an thing is in ours direction that sight, the more it will be distorted (becomes much much shorter in the direction).

For example, a lake the in reality have the right to be round, in view becomes an ext elliptical together the distance between it and the observer grows.

Understanding foreshortening is THE key advantage of proficient artists, especially when drawing from imagination.

If girlfriend are brand-new to foreshortening, feel complimentary to visit my overview on drawing from imagination (It is an advanced guide, however explained step-by-step).

According to the rules of atmospheric perspective, the farther an object is, the much more its shade (hue) shifts toward the elevator color, which is generally blue sky.

The farther an item is, the much less saturated its color will be.

In other words, its shade will be less rich, glowing or intense, therefore becoming dull or neutral.

Purple, blue and also green space cool colors; they lug to mind the ocean.

Red, orange and also yellow are warmth colors; they lug to mind fire.

The farther away an item is, the an ext atmosphere particles will be in between it and also the observer, i.e. The atmosphere color will have a enlarge effect.

When the sky is blue, the color of background objects will shift gradually toward a blue hue due to scattered light, and also therefore i do not care cooler.

Foreground objects will certainly be warmer 보다 the background objects since there room less setting particles in between the observer and the foreground objects.

Opposite phenomenon may take place in sunrise or sunset.

Temperature in see

Painted with marker pens because that artists.

13. Values

According come atmospheric perspective, aside from that objects will certainly have greater brightness values, definition their color will it is in lighter.

Farther object is lighter

For monochromatic drawing, like pencil drawing, the exact same principle applies.

The an essential is to push harder through a illustration pencil for darker worths or to usage pencils with different brightness values.

Foreground objects are darker

In addition, transitions (gradient) in brightness values can be used to create the illusion come depth.

Transition native dark to light
Transition from irradiate to dark

14. Cast Shadow

It is vital to paint or draw actors shadows when important and adjust their direction to the opposite next of the light source.

Cast zero


Landscape with pen & octopus

In order to learn just how to compose a scene and render it, read my accuse on composition drawing.

15. Brushstrokes & Marks

Some painting formats are done through a repertoire of solitary brushstrokes. For example, paint grass chisels or leaves.

In this cases, larger paintbrushes deserve to be used for foreground strokes.

You can do the exact same with a technical pen.

Use a pen with a larger nib size for bigger point out when illustration foreground objects, and a smaller nib size for elevator objects.

Different nib size


Pen drawing of a tree

For an initial sketch, the direction of lines/marks or brushstrokes is important.

Same basic shape with various marks direction tells a various story:

Marks direction for producing shapes and depth

When to plan a painting, marks direction pat a significant role:

Marks as very first step

And castle are important when painting.


Tree in sunset oil paint

If you are brand-new to oil painting, that is great to understand the different species of paintbrushes because that oil painting.


The crucial to produce depth when illustration is the use of various methods to create a three-dimensional look at on a two-dimensional surface.

Simply put, there is no actual depth in drawing (or painting), however an illusion of depth.


When utilizing colors, that is essential to pay fist to color qualities such together hue, saturation, value and also temperature.

In a monochromatic drawing, correct brightness values space crucial.

Landscape vs tho life:

For landscape painting, the is essential to know linear and also atmospheric perspective.

When paint a quiet life, use techniques like contrast, overlap, and also soft edge to create depth.

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Where to walk next?

After understanding depth, you can want to visit mine beginners guide to reality pencil drawing.