Can you help me tie an image together using one or two colours?
Jamal Muhammad, India
An easy way to approach this is to consider your main light source. If it’s warm, the shadows should be cool, and vice versa. You can assign a hue to the shadows that complements the hue of the main light, and reinforce this relationship throughout the piece. This will give you a basic one- or two-colour scheme, and the way these colours interact with the local colours of objects in the picture will provide visual variation and interest.
I enjoy working with reduced palettes, and they can help make this effect easier to achieve. Whenever you apply a colour or tint, also take time to look over the image for other places where that colour can appropriately be placed.
And remember to adhere to your chosen value structure. Combining a limited palette with a strong value organisation can produce striking imagery, and you’ll find it easier to produce much more pleasing results, too.
Here I’ve used a ruddy-golden light throughout the top part of the image, then dusted various cooler purple-blues into the shadow areas.