6 Ways to Create Depth in Art

Depth: Apparent distance from front to back or near to far.

Have you ever felt as though you could walk right into a beautiful landscape painting? Like a magician, the artist has transposed the third dimension onto a flat canvas, and you the viewer are lured into a world made of paint.

Creating a believable landscape painting with depth really isn’t some magic trick, it’s technique. For more than a century, skilled artists have used some of the following techniques to carefully orchestrate a convincing landscape painting. Learn how to pull spectators into your landscapes with these tips.

1. Layering and Overlapping

Layering and overlapping is effective when there is a notable contrast in the shade or texture of two overlapping objects. This creates extra contrast and helps to separate the objects from one another. In the dramatic Edgar Payne painting below, the smaller boats in the foreground layer and overlap and partially hide the larger boats. This creates a sense of depth.

Artwork that shows Depth

Improve your Art with Depth!!

5. Foreground Interest

When painting a subject at medium to far distance, it can often appear flat. Include an object of interest in the foreground to enhance the sense of depth. This leads the viewer’s eye into the scene, from the foreground to the subject in the distance. Generally, use less detail, and texture in the background.Renowned artist, teacher and author, John F. Carlson exemplifies this technique in the following painting.

6. Changes in Size

In this painting, The Road to Sluis, Holland, Charles Warren Eaton effectively used the Changes in Sizetechnique. Notice how although in real life we know these trees are the same size, Eaton masterfully crafted them descending away from the viewer. In other words, the trees get smaller as they get further away. The descending trees give a wonderful illusion of depth to this painting.