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Creating the Illusion of Depth with Atmospheric (aerial) Perspective

Introduction

As objects recede into the distance there is a gradual transition from large to small, dark to light, hard edges to soft, sharp focus to soft, high contrast to low, fine details to no details, intense colors to muted, warmer colors to cooler.

Visual Elements: SLAPPTTC Near Far
ShapesShapes in the foreground overlap and conceal those in the distance.Shapes in the distance are smaller than those in the foreground.
Lines (edges)Edges delineating near shapes are distinct.Edges in the distance are blurry and indistinct.
ProportionsClose objects appear larger.Objects in the distance appear smaller.
Position in SpaceNearer objects appear lower or "at our feet." We look down to see them.Shapes in the distance appear higher. We raise our eyes to see them.
Tonal ValueDarks are darker, lights are lighter, contrast is greater for nearby tonal values.In the distance, lights and darks shift to neutral gray; contrast is less.
TextureThere is a great deal of surface detail in nearby objectsTexture is absent in the distance. Only the basic form remains.
Color Hues (temperature)Warm colors such as reds, oranges, yellows (and some greens and violets) appear to advance.Cool colors such as blues and greens tend to recede.
Color Intensity (saturation)Nearby colors appear more intense.Colors in the distance have less intensity.
Color BrightnessNearby colors appear brighter.Colors in the distance are duller.

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