Color Appearance

The colors you see depend on a variety visual parameters, including:

  • the eye’s state of adaptation
  • the brightness of the stimuli
  • the visual context

Below is a computer rendition of artist Josef Albers demonstration that color appearance does indeed depend on the context in which colors are seen.  Look at the “x” in each square…

Do they look different?


Understanding color appearance is necessary in many venture where there is human-computer interaction. As such it is essential to consider color appearance when designing algorithms to solve color problems (e.g. color constancy or color correction). Conversely, purely computational theories are valuable in assessing and directing research into color appearance. For example, algorithms developed for compressing the size of color images provide an intriguing (and perfectly plausible) explanation for various psychophysical experiments.

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