Tutorial: Creating Depth and Space pt3 Color and Value

January 18, 2017
The Beautiful Smoky Mountains

I’ve been talking to you a little bit about how to create the illusion of depth and space in a work of art. It’s a very useful tool to have in your belt when thinking about literal pathways. You can find my tutorial about using size and overlap here, and perspective here. Another simple device to use when creating the illusion of depth is to change color and value.
sketch by Lyric Kinard
Value is how much dark or light is in any given color. If you look carefully at the landscape around you you will see a difference in color and value as objects get farther away. Things closer to you will have sharper contrasts in value and brighter colors. Objects that are farther away become more blue and gray in color and the value contrasts lessen. 
Night Life by Jane Sassaman
Colors can also be used to create depth and space. Warm colors such as red and orange appear to come forward while cool colors seem to move away. Objects seen far away will appear grayer and bluer, as in the smoky purple of distant mountains. Volume and depth can also be created with the shading of one color from dark to light. The change in value alone turns a flat circle into a sphere.
Notice also that complementary (colors across from each other on the color wheel) appear to vibrate – to POP! Again, the warmer colors come forward and cool colors recede. The orange circle above seems to float a bit on the surface of the blue. If you add dark and light highlights you create the illusion of volume and depth as well.
Hope you’ve enjoyed these quick and easy tips. I’d love to hear any other tips you have.


  • Reply
    Dana Barbieri
    June 30, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    hi lyric… i bought my index cards and drew a face… can't wait to try another one

  • Reply
    June 29, 2011 at 1:42 am

    you'd be surprised what the machines can handle – try a few test samples and see what works for your machine.

  • Reply
    June 29, 2011 at 1:40 am

    Downloaded your suggestion from QA about binding quilts.

    You suggest sewing to heavy watercolor paper. Do you mean 300#? 400#? Or something lighter.

    I have a hard time imagining sending 300# or heavier thru my sewing machine!


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