Saturation is a property of color that measures how intense or pure that color is. Grays are low saturation colors, and vivid colors are high saturated colors. Another name for saturation is ‘chroma’. For more information see the three components of color.
It is very easy to over exaggerate the saturation of colors in nature. In this student painting the ocean is far too blue. This is an extremely common painting problem, particularly with inexperienced painters. But there is one handy tip that will help you identify and fix this problem.
If you sample the colors using a digital painting tool, you can see the true saturation of the ocean. In this case the color of the ocean is in fact much grayer than the student painted it.
In the above picture, I set the image to be a tracing layer in ArtRage, then sampled the water so you could compare the predominant color in the painting with that in the original photograph.
In the student painting below, you can see that the blues are too saturated.
For more information on saturation, see lesson B06 What Is Saturation? in the Year One Apprentice Program.
For more information on how I use ArtRage, see the Graduate Program in the Virtual Art Academy online painting classes.
Please share this article!