A Lesson on Atmospheric Perspective

Chontele, Elora, and I recently got back from a short trip to Montville in Queensland, Australia. It’s a quiet town in the Sunshine Coast hinterlands.

The weather was miserable by usual standards, but it felt right for the area and its lush plants and sweeping hills. A dense mist filled the air. Even at midday, we could hardly see 20 meters ahead.

The misty landscape was a good lesson on the effects of atmospheric perspective.

A good rule of thumb for atmospheric perspective is: As things recede into the distance, they gradually take on the appearance of the surrounding atmosphere.

Sometimes, these effects are subtle and hard to see. But they are clearly visible on a misty day. The trees, plants, grass, road, paths, and fence posts get fainter and fainter until they are completely enveloped in the mist. And this all happens within 10-50 meters depending on how thick the mist is.

On a clear day, the effects of atmospheric perspective are less severe, but they work the same way. Objects might get lighter and a touch bluer as they recede into the distance. But this happens over kilometers, not meters.

Below are some reference photos from the trip so you can see what I mean. Feel free to paint from them. If you ever want more painting tips, check out my 21 Easy Ways to Improve Your Paintings ebook.

Happy painting!

Dan Scott



Dan Scott is the founder of Draw Paint Academy. He's a self-taught artist from Australia with a particular interest in landscape painting. Draw Paint Academy is run by Dan and his wife, Chontele, with the aim of helping you get the most out of the art life. You can read more on the About page.

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