Creating Depth With Watercolor

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Watercolor paintings with depth have a realistic quality which can be achieved in several ways. Once you have these techniques mastered, your paintings will have a more dimensional feeling to them. The viewer will feel he is able to walk in, and through your watercolor. One important thing to keep in mind when attempting to achieve depth in your watercolor paintings is to change values throughout your composition. Your values (as well as your colors) will become less intense as you move from the foreground to the background of your work. This imitates the way the eye actually sees, giving your painting authenticity.

Another way to emphasize depth in your painting is to vary your textures. Your subject matter in the foreground should have the most texture, while down-playing it in the rest of your piece. Again, this emphasizes the atmospheric perspective as seen through the human eye. Practice standing outside and observe the texture on the side of a building next to you. Then move your gaze to the structure behind it, then once more to a third building further in the distance. You will see how the texture fades away, the further back you look. Blurring your edges in your background will also convey a feeling of depth. An example of this may be seen in a painting of some mountains. Those in the foreground should appear crisp with hard edges, while the mountains in the distance take on a softer quality. Sometimes an almost blurry, or unfocused background is called for. This can be accomplished by painting wet-in-wet, using plenty of water.

I suggest with this technique to use two or three gradations to tie the areas together. This will bridge one section to the next, without an abrupt change. It will give your painting a nice flow. Your use of color is also a way to emphasize depth with watercolor. Cool colors recede and warm colors come forward. I suggest you get to know which of your reds are the warmest and which are the coolest. The same goes for your blues. There are warm blues and cool reds, and placed appropriately in your composition, will keep it interesting and give it dimension. There are also many color mixtures which will help you achieve this sense of distance. Experiment with these ideas and I’m sure you will find your watercolors have a credible and enjoyable quality to them. The more you use these techniques, the more they will become second-nature to you. Your paintings will have a beautiful and realistic sense of depth.



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