Teaching Talia

Drawing Outdoor Scenes

Posted on: April 20, 2010

Lecture by Paula Dawson

When we go to draw a scene which has things at various different depths over tens of meters, it’s necessary to adopt some formal or informal means of representing 3-dimensional space on the 2-dimensional page in front of us.


There are, in different civilizations, different conventions about the way in which 3-dimensional space will be depicted. P

In order to truly get a good 3-dimensional effect in a drawing of a large scene, it’s necessary to have things intermittently positioned at various depths within the composition, and it’s not always easy to find things out in the natural world that fulfill that criteria. Just as when we were making the still life arrangements of objects, we used occlusion to hide and to indicate depth within that very shallow field of view of the still life objects.

Look through the various sketch books of Australian artist Lloyd Rees, on the Art Gallery of NSW website. There is documentation of four of his sketch books.

Drawing book number one, he draws isolated small areas, sometimes people, but he doesn’t make an overall composition.

drawing book number four is the one I really want you to pay a lot of attention to because in these studies, not only does he choose very interesting compositions but he also applies a small amount of colour to the essentially line drawings that he has made.

Now drawing book number four is the style of drawing which you will be making in your final brief. You’ll be making a study where the majority of the detail is defined by line and then tone is built up by some additional pencil marks and also you are going to be developing the mood of the drawing through the use of colour, through the use of some very soft ink washes in some of the large zones of the drawing.

We didn’t do that with the tonal exercise or the line exercise – this is definitely a refinement which will make a very big difference to the impact of your composition.

In general, wherever you want to create impact, that’s where the very darkest dark and the very lightest light should be together


when observing real objects, the darkest dark and the lightest light, will be most noticeable up close.

This kind of effect is called atmospheric effect and it’s really important to bear this in mind when you’re doing drawings of things which have both very near and very far objects. The things in the distance should be made more in the centre of the grayscale


Artists can also convey a feeling of depth, not just from the two things I’ve already mentioned – the first of which is perspective, the second of which is varying the contrast, and the third is the use of marks of diminishing size . You’ll notice with the Constable work of the kitchen garden, that the size of the pencil marks vary and become smaller the further they are away from the picture plane.

The final step to making an excellent drawing of a 3-dimensional scene is to understand where to put the frame – in other words, where to crop the edge of the image.

The easiest way to do this is to actually use a frame that has the same relationship of the height to the width as the page in your drawing book. In that way you can actually look through a little window which represents exactly height to width what you’re going to be drawing in your book.

Now that you have your viewer, please walk around looking through it to notice how if you crop certain things out of the image, the picture doesn’t look quite as good or it looks even better. Watch the final video to understand how placement of your frame can give the optimal effect.

In order to make an interesting drawing of an out door space it is important to consider the following things
1. REPRESESTATIONAL SYSTEM finding elements such as a path or a road ( or any other feature which travels between the viewer and a distant part of the picture space) which coincide with lines in representational systems such as perspective or oblique projection.
2. Selecting a scene which has objects in the near ground occluding distant parts of the scene and a few vertical objects at different distances with the volume of space
3. Use the highest CONTRAST OF VALUES in the section of the drawing which is to be of central interest
4. Objects close to the horizon are indefinite ATMOSPHEREIC EFFECTS
5. Changing the scale of marks becoming smaller for more distant objects can suggest greater depth
6. Framing of objects effects the composition


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Just finished my Graduate Certificate in Cross Disciplinary Art and Design with UNSW.




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