Using The Idea Of Atmosphere

by Glenn Vilppu

This is the twelfth in a series of articles on drawing for animation. In these articles I will be presenting the theory and practice of drawing as a "how to" instructional series. The lessons are based upon the Vilppu Drawing Manual and will in general follow the basic plan outlined in the manual. This is the same material that I base my seminars and lectures on at the American Animation Institute, UCLA, and my lectures at Disney, Warner Bros. and other major studios in the animation industry, both in the U.S. and their affiliates overseas. If you have not seen the previous lessons starting in the June 1998 issue of Animation World Magazine, it is recommended that you do. The lessons are progressive and expand on basic ideas. It is suggested that you start from the beginning for a better understanding of my approach.

Atmospheric Perspective

In the last chapter, we discussed direct lighting, and in chapter 10 the modeling tone. Atmospheric perspective is normally discussed in conjunction with landscape painting since its true effect is primarily seen in nature in conjunction with great distances in space. The figurative artist has taken this sense of atmosphere and developed it as a strong tool of expression by abstracting the main elements and learning to use them while describing form.

In the last two chapters, I have already indicated some of the main elements involved in atmospheric perspective. First, the graying and loss of detail as objects recede in space due to more atmosphere coming between the viewer and the object. Second, the use of this phenomenon in a formulaic manner by artists to separate forms. In this chapter, using the idea of atmosphere will be expanded upon to include its use as a basic element of design in the drawing to enhance the action of the figure and to clarify the three dimensionality of the form.

Illustration No.1 All drawings in this article are by and © Glenn Vilppu.

In Illustration No.1, notice how the tone expanded upon the basic rhythm of the figure. Compare diagram A and B in the illustration. I refer to this usage of tone as amplifying the action. The tone in "B" emphasizes the action and makes it feel stronger. The use of "atmosphere" in this illustration would generally be referred to as "just tone." The main point here is that the atmosphere around the figure is being manipulated as a compositional element to enhance the action. In "C" you will notice that the "core" part of the dark and light pattern is also an element in making the action stronger.

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