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Mastering Depth in Art: An Example of Linear and Atmospheric Perspective

  • Art
This article was originally written in 2015 as a student paper for the ART 110 Introduction to Visual Arts course at Minot State University.

Perspective in art recreates how our eyes see the world. I will cover two types: Linear Perspective and Atmospheric Perspective.

Linear Perspective

Linear Perspective uses converging lines to show depth. It’s like looking down a long road, where lines seem to meet at a point. Paintings such as Paris Street; Rainy Day by Gustave Caillebotte and The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci employ this technique.

Example: Paris Street; Rainy Day – Gustave Caillebotte (1848–1894)

Here, lines on the streets and buildings converge, making them appear to recede into the distance.

Example: The Last Supper – Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519)

Da Vinci used Linear Perspective to create depth, giving life to the scene.

Atmospheric Perspective

This approach uses colors to create depth. By altering the colors of objects, artists can make them look nearer or farther away.

Example: Lower Missouri River – George Catlin (1796-1872)

The change in land and river colors creates depth in this painting.

Example: Village Scene with a Canal – Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568–1625)

Blurry colors in the background give the impression of distance.


Both Linear and Atmospheric Perspectives offer artists powerful tools to create depth in their work. By understanding and using these techniques, an artist can create lifelike representations that resonate with the viewer’s perception.

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