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Year 10: Term 1: Reality or Illusion?

Artistic Techniques for Creating an Illusion of Space

All realistic or representational art is dependent on creating an illusion. Look at the websites below and make your list of what techniques artists can use to create an illusion of space on a 2-Dimensional space. Then apply them to specific paintings from the various art movements.

Space in art is the area above, around and within an object. Real space is 3-dimensional. Space in a work of art refers to a feeling of depth or 3 dimensions.

There are six easy ways to make three-dimensional drawings and give the illusion of depth and space; through these six tips we could see through the history of art and discover how artists have developed increasingly more sophisticated systems to deceive the viewer’s eyes and show non-existent spaces:

This is the simplest way to suggest space, and is very effective when combined with size variation. An object is placed behind another object, and part of it is cut off (called 'interrupted edges'), to make it appear smaller than those objects with complete contours.  Layering of paint can create depth too.

Larger objects are placed in the front, and smaller ones in the back to make them seem further away.

Objects placed lower on the picture plane appear closer than an object placed higher.

Objects closer to the viewer are made darker in intensity and warmer in colour, and objects further away are lighter in intensity and cooler in colour.

Objects in the foreground are made more detailed and textured to make the object closer and softer, and objects further away are made less detailed and smoother to suggest a stop sign in the foreground would allow you to read the word 'STOP' but if it were further away, the words would be harder to read.

This creates the illusion of depth and volume on a two-dimensional surface. This is a geometric method of using receding lines that move towards one or more vanishing points in order to create the illusion of space on a flat surface.The three components essential to the linear perspective system are orthogonals (parallel lines), the horizon line, and a vanishing point.The Renaissance invention of linear perspective in art, initially with 1-point perspective, is generally attributed to the Florentine architect Brunelleschi. His ideas continued to be developed and used by Renaissance artists, notably Piero Della Francesca and Andrea Mantegna. Brunelleschi, elevation of Santo Spirito, 1434-83, Florence.

1-Point perspective is where the sides of an object diminish towards the vanishing point in the distance. All vertical and horizontal lines though are drawn with no perspective. Artists known for their use of perspective include Masaccio, a Renaissance painter who developed a realistic style by being among the first to apply the rules of perspective; and Johannes Vermeer, a Dutch artist whose carefully lighted interiors often make clever use of perspective.The picture below is Raphael's School of Athens, 1509-1511, and the one below that is Vincent van Gogh, Vincent's Bedroom In Arles, 1889

Study the diagram showing 1-point perspective. Then look for additional converging lines.

Vincent van Gogh, Vincent's Bedroom In Arles, 1889 - One Point Perspective

2-Point perspective is where the sides of an object vanish to one of 2 vanishing points on the horizon, as the viewer is positioned so that the objects in the drawing or painting are viewed from one corner, not front on. It is slightly more complex, as both the front and back edges and the side edges of an object must diminish toward vanishing points. Two-point perspective is often used when drawing buildings in landscapes. For simplicity, artists usually focus on correctly rendering one, two, or three vanishing points. This is Impressionist and Realist artist Gustav Caillebotte's Paris Street; Rainy Day, 1877. The yellow line is the horizon line and the 2 red dots the vanishing points. 


3-Point perspective is usually an exaggerated form of illustration, drawn with the spectator either below the horizon (ant's-eye view) or above the horizon (bird's-eye view). This perspective drawing has three vanishing points, two on the horizon line and one either above or below the horizon, where the viewer is looking up or down so that the verticals also converge on a vanishing point at the top or bottom of the image. This is the most complex form of perspective. Unlike in one-point and two-point perspective, none of the lines in the drawing are perpendicular to the viewer. Instead, each one is drawn in the direction of a certain vanishing point. If you were drawing a building using three-point perspective, you would need to begin with only a single point located on the building, then use the vanishing points to define each side of the structure. This picture is by britney91 in 2010, and the head by Rahsaahn Suitt, 2013.

3 Point Perspective - Building by britny91

Image result for 3 point perspective drawing head

Arte a Scuola: The Illusion of Space Video Creating the Illusion of Depth and Space
Has excellent examples.

The Virtual Instructor: 6 Ways to Create the Illusion of Space

Spacial Strategies - How do Artists Create the Illusion of Space in a Landscape?

Computer Imaging: Design Basics - Illusion of Space

Schoolwork Helper: Art Perspective - Creating the Illusion of Depth on a 2-D Surface Painting: Creating the Illusion of Depth and Space

Art Rays: How to Create the Illusion of Depth in a Painting

Professor Prater Art Appreciation: Value and Space
Has excellent examples, including Linear Perspective.

Creating Illusions of Space PowerPoint

This PowerPoint has excellent examples of 1 and 2-Point perspectives.

Library Catalogue

Look here for books, eBooks, DVDs and websites.

Positive and Negative Space

Space can also refer to the artist's use of the area within the picture plane. The area around the primary objects in a work of art is known as 'negative space', while the space occupied by the primary objects is known as 'positive space'. 

He Can No Longer at the Age of 98, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, 1819–1823

In this drawing, the man and his shadow occupy the positive space, while the white space surrounding him is the negative space. The disproportionate amount of negative space accentuates the figure's vulnerability and isolation.

Useful Databases

Referencing Art Pictures