15 Proven Ways to Draw the Illusion of Depth

Want to make your drawings more realistic but don’t know how? Try adding an illusion of depth. Here are 15 proven ways to draw the illusion of depth. Check them out.


The key to making your drawings realistic is adding depth to them. Two-dimensional figures can’t capture the true essence of real-life scenes. Thus, producing the appearance of depth enhances the realism of your picture.

But not all methods of adding depth actually work. To attain your goal, you must use the appropriate methods and tips.

If you don’t know the drill, don’t worry.

We’ve provided a list of 15 proven ways to draw the illusion of depth. With our help, you can make your drawings as realistic as possible.

So take out your paint and paper, and let’s get into it.

How to Add Depth to Drawings?

Painting sessions are a great way to de-stress and learn new skills for everyone. In fact, painting lessons for children can help kids for life.

A great way to make these lessons effective is by adding different techniques, such as depth.

Here are 15 proven ways to add depth that you can try in your next painting lesson.

Way 1: Brushstrokes And Marks

Some painting techniques use a series of single brushstrokes. If used the right way, these brushstrokes can create the illusion of depth in objects.

You can do foreground strokes using larger paintbrushes for painting certain objects such as leaves or grass blades. You can also use a technical pen in a similar manner.

When sketching foreground items, use a pen with a larger nib size for larger markings. Smaller nib sizes are used for background objects.

Keep in mind that for drawing, the flow of lines/marks or brushstrokes is crucial. The mark’s direction is important while designing a painting.

The same fundamental design, with distinct marks pointing in different directions, portrays a different picture.

Way 2: Horizon

By dividing the artwork into ground and sky, you can add depth to your painting. You can draw a horizon line, mountain range, trees, etc.

Furthermore, adding ground to the painting prevents the objects from “hovering.”

Way 3: Colors

You can increase the depth of your painting by following the rules of atmospheric perspective.

The rule states that the further an object is from the background color, the closer it gets to the backdrop color. The more its color (hue) varies.

Use lighter shades for objects at the back. You’ll be able to add depth to your picture this way.

Way 4: Saturation

As you go closer to an object, the color saturation diminishes. In other words, its hue will become dull or neutral as it moves farther away.

Keeping this concept in mind will add depth to your painting.

Way 5: Volume

The depth in a picture can be represented by 3D elements that appear to have volume. You won’t get this effect by drawing flat objects.

Depending on where the light source is placed, add highlight and shadow to your three-dimensional object.

Try playing around with the lighting to see the changes in the shadow of objects. Then try to draw its pattern. You can follow different tips to get better lighting in your room.

Way 6: Contrast And Details

As an object becomes far away, the contrast reduces, as does the quantity of detail. So keep this in mind while painting.

High-contrast parts will stand out, while low-contrast parts fade away. The details also get hazier as objects move far away.

Way 7: Overlap

Overlapping is another trick to add depth to your painting. If an object is hidden behind another object, it seems farther away. This gives the illusion of depth.

Way 8: Height/Position

Objects that are placed higher on the painting surface will appear to be further away. Mountain ranges, hills, and valleys should be placed in such a manner.

Closer things should be placed lower on the ground. Farther things should be placed higher. This will add depth to the painting.

The reason for this is the observer’s visual angle, which is measured in degrees rather than meters in perspective.

Way 9: Edges

A hard edge is made as an object or surface finishes at a sharp point and brings it more into focus, whereas soft objects transition from dark to light, adding a hazy effect.

Foreground items should have sharp edges to be in focus. Background objects should have soft edges to seem blurry and unfocused. This will give the illusion of depth.

Way 10: Perspective

You can use linear perspective to add depth in a more realistic manner. Putting objects in ascending height linearly creates depth in your painting.

Perspective in paintings has been used since the pre-Renaissance period. It’s a tried-and-true technique that’s been practiced by artists for centuries.

Way 11: Foreshortening

Buildings, trees, mountains, people, and other objects in front of the viewer will appear smaller as they get farther away. But the painting’s height and breadth ratio will remain the same so there is no distortion.

However, when the object (or our) angle of sight is changed, the object will shrink in that direction. This distortion is caused by the angle of vision. The closer an object is to our line of sight, the more distorted it will look (it becomes much shorter in that direction).

So what is foreshortening used for? For example, a circular lake becomes increasingly elliptical in perspective. As the distance between it and the spectator grows, so does the difficulty of seeing it.

Keep in mind that foreshortening is also used to create shadows (unless they are in front of us).

Way 12: Cast Shadow

Cast shadows must be painted or drawn when the object is against a light source. And their direction must be adjusted to the opposite side of the light source. This will add depth as well.

Way 13: Color Temperature

Purple, blue, and green are chilly colors that evoke images of the sea. Warm colors like red, orange, and yellows conjure up images of fire.

Due to dispersed light, the color of background objects will gradually change toward a blue tint and hence become cooler when the sky is blue.

Between the viewer and the foreground elements, there are fewer air particles. So they will be warmer than the background items. For painting sunrise or sunset, the opposite may occur.

Way 14: Values

The farther away an object is, the higher its brightness values will be. This implies that their color will be lighter, according to atmospheric perspective. A gradient in brightness values gives the impression of depth.

The same idea applies to monochromatic drawings, such as pencil drawings. To get darker values, press harder with a drawing pencil or utilize pencils with varying brightness values.

Way 15: Size

The rule of perspective states that the farther distant an object is, the smaller it seems. You can even test this out using your phone camera.

As a result, while drawing identical items of varying sizes, one can infer that smaller items are farther away, giving the picture a sense of depth.

Make Your Illustration Pop Up With These Tips 

Drawing illustrations in depth is certainly a fun practice, especially when you are aware of certain tips and tricks to make your art pop. Here are a few techniques to try out:

1. Learn About Your Drawing Tools 

Before starting drawing, it is important to know well about the art tools you would need. For example, having the right type of pencil for depth in sketching is an essential requirement. Mostly the hardness of graphite is mentioned on the side of the pencil: H indicates harder, B is for softer, whereas HB lies in the middle. It is suggested by the experts to begin with the H scale as a foundation and finish with the B (darker) scale.

Similarly, when it comes to brushes, you may find a huge variety with different shapes and fiber types – all of them shows different results. You can invest in sable/synthetic mix brushes because they are versatile and can be used with several paint types. However, to know which shape of brush will work best for you; it is suggested to try out different styles and explore the suitable option as you paint.

2. Remove The Outline

A great tip to give your drawings a 3D look is by removing the outline. An outline gives an artificial or cartoony appearance to a piece of art. So, make sure to erase the harsh lines or blend them in the background for a realistic effect. 

3. Avoid Smudging

Always keep an extra piece of paper under your hand while shading. It will minimize the chances of lines smudging with your hands. For right-handed artists, start shading from left to right and vice versa. Moreover, use smudging tools or tissue paper for shading while creating a 3D art piece.

4. Practice, Practice, Practice!

Practice makes you perfect. This saying goes with depth in painting as well. You can’t create a masterpiece for the first time, but nothing is impossible with practice and patience. Before working on any idea or theme, search for some example illustrations online and observe them closely. 


Now that you know the drill, you can turn your bland drawings into more realistic ones by using the 15 proven ways to draw the illusion of depth we described above.

We hope you found this article to be informative. You can add depth to your drawings in a variety of methods, and we’ve detailed the most effective.

Happy drawing!