abstract art, a systems view

Edge-induced colour spreading

with 4 comments

In Flank transparency: The effects of gaps, line spacing, and apparent motion by Daniel Wollschla, Antonio M Rodriguez and Donald D Hoffman, (in Perception, 2002, volume 31) , they use the term neon color spreading to refer to “the perceptual phenomenon of color that seems to disperse from image elements into their surround, thereby creating a subtle neon-like veil”, explaining that “the observed coloration overcomes `real’ figure boundaries and typically covers an area confined by subjective contours”. Here’s an example:

The authors contrast this classical neon-color-spreading phenomena with edge-induced color spreading as discussed by Pinna, Brelstaff and Spillmann (in Surface color from boundaries: A new `watercolor’ illusion‘ in Vision Research 41, 2001) where edge or flank-induced coloration does not display the neon-like quality and much more resembles pastel surface colours or a watercolour wash. In doing my own drawings I have become especially interested that the area covered by the `diffused watercolor’ can be much larger than the area that might usually be the case with neon color spreading. And I keep asking myself why I have never come across this before.

The light green ‘ground’ in this image is constructed by you the viewer in response to the colours that flank the drawn figures. Note that the ‘ground’ also shifts to ‘figure’, creating an alternative view of the image.


4 Responses

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  1. Oh, it’s good stuff this Andy!

    Dave Whatt

    October 12, 2012 at 10:07 am

  2. This highlights problems I often have to address in painting portraits from photographs. There are subtle false messages the eye delivers to the brain all the time. In representational painting the mantra “paint what you see” can’t necessarily mean you’ll paint what is actually there.

    David Reid

    October 15, 2012 at 8:21 am

  3. Thank you Dave and David for your comments. I am really fascinated by these phenomena and pleased you are enjoying them too. David I would even go as far as to suggest that the subjective construct is not false but in fact more real than what is actually there.

    Andy Parkinson

    October 16, 2012 at 10:00 am

  4. Great stuff! I missed this blog post back when it was published. Glad I found it.


    December 21, 2012 at 7:36 pm

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