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Besides indicating detail with brushwork, you can also indicate depth and visual importance with color by controlling its temperature and saturation. Atmospheric or aerial perspective is a painting technique in which three-dimensional depth is portrayed by reducing color saturation and tinting retreating colors towards blue. This mimics the effect of the atmosphere on distance. We can additionally use this optical cue to place greater importance on subject matter in a painting. In this video, we'll take a look at how to use this technique.
So, just to kind of cover what I'm talking about here, I've got a couple example here that I want to show you. This is atmospheric perspective, and in this case, it's actually foggy out. But see how the color in the foreground is fully saturated and rich. And as distance increases, in this case, there's particulate in the air in the form of tiny droplets forming the fog. So, as objects get farther away, more and more of that is between us and that object and as a result, it gets more and more grayed out and loses detail.
Another example here, even on a sunny day, is right here. This shows you that even in the sunny conditions, once again, you've got all of this color in this ridge in the foreground, but as we start to move back, in this case, more and more blue starts to intrude on the scene till you get to that farthest back mountain range and it's basically just kind of gray with a hint of blue in it. So, the use of color saturation is great for indicating depth, and that's one of the primary ways it's used in traditional painting.
What we're talking about here isn't so much depth because of distance, but depth or color used to indicate importance. And this probably isn't the exact place I would use this, but I just want to give you an example of how powerful this can be. Because we have these hue and saturation layers associated with each of our Cloning Layers, I can, at any point, play around with each one of these layers' importance, so to speak. And so, if I go to the underpainting layer, down here, and use this Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, which is associated with it, I could go in here and, for example, if I thought this brick work is more important than the under- painting, well I could start to, you know, desaturate it a bit.
I could play with its lightness a bit. But you see all of a sudden how that brickwork is now jumping forward. It's not intentional, I wouldn't do that to this because they really are sort of together here. But as we go through the rest of this title, you're going to see me taking advantage of these Hue/Saturation layers. And always keep in mind, these are non-destructive. So, for example, I could even set this this way right now. So then, as I paint, I am getting a more clear view of how these look as I paint.
And then later on, I can pull the saturation and lightness back to where they were and they'll merge a little bit better. In fact, I do that all the time, I'll probably leave it like this so that as I start to paint, my intermediate layer is going to have greater saturation because we've actually desaturated the background. So, you can use this in a number of ways. You can use it as a final part of the image to create importance on certain layers. Or you can use it temporarily, as I'm describing, and just desaturate a background layer that you don't want to necessarily have bothering you or interfering with your vision as you're applying these strokes, in this case, for the brickwork.
The use of warm/cool color and saturation/desaturation is a useful tool for focusing viewer attention to desired areas within a composition. The trick is to be subtle about it, and not let it call undue attention for the wrong reasons. And as I just mentioned, you can also use it as a temporary measure to increase the importance of the layer that you're currently focusing on.
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