When making a virtual plein-air study, how can I accentuate the colour vibrancy?
It’s really easy to fall back on a generic palette and limit ourselves artistically. I often exaggerate the colour saturation and use complementary colours for painting the lit areas and the shaded areas. This boosts the colour properties of individual colours.
To put things in a simpler way, when complementary colours are placed side by side, they accentuate each other’s colour property. And when saturated colours are introduced into an area of shadow, they vibrate more than if they were painted in lit areas of the composition.
Chromatic shadow is another effective way to create the illusion of detail in shadow areas. Often, laying down a few strokes of saturated colours in shade can trick the brain to interpret those strokes as a result of bouncing light from the sky light.
Colour vibrancy can be a strong design language, because it plays a big role in how the brain makes sense of certain lighting situations. As long as you apply the basic rules, you can apply more stylised colour choices to give your scene a real sense of personality to your scene.
Notice how just a few saturated brushstrokes bring out the colour vibrancy in the shadow areas. This simple environment scene has benefited from lighting and colour techniques that increase visual interest.