Colour brightness

Colour brightness refers to the difference between the way a colour appears to an observer in well-lit conditions compared with its subdued appearance when in shadow or when poorly illuminated.

About colour brightness
  • In a general sense, brightness is an attribute of visual perception in which something appears to an observer to be radiating or reflecting light.
  • Colour brightness increases as lighting conditions improve, whilst the vitality of colours decreases when a surface is poorly lit.
  • Optical factors affecting colour brightness include:
  • Material properties affecting colour brightness of a medium, object or surface include:
    • Chemical composition
    • Three dimensional form
    • Texture
    • Reflectance
  • Perceptual factors affecting colour brightness include:
About brightness
Colour theory
  • When an observer asks themselves about the colour of something, they will often unconsciously think in terms of a particular colour theory associated with:
    • Spectral colours with names associated with atmospheric rainbows
    • Pigments, where powders are mixed with water, oil or acrylic to produce different colours
    • Objects and surfaces which transmit, reflect and absorb wavelengths of light in different proportions
  • A broader vocabulary of names can be used to describe colours such as dark red, vermilion, golden yellow, lemon yellow, pale yellow, greenish-yellow, chartreuse, leaf green or light green.
  • A colour model derived from a theory of colour allows for a more exact and reproducible approach to colour.
Brightness, Intensity, amplitude

In this dictionary:

  • Brightness is used in connection with the perception of colour.
  • Intensity is used in connection with the amount of light that is produced by or falls on an object.
  • Amplitude is used in connection with the properties of electromagnetic waves.
Colour brightness and light intensity
  • The perception of colour in the world around us depends on the spread of wavelengths that reach the eyes of an observer.
  • The perception of brightness of a colour depends on the amount of light an object emits, absorbs or reflects.
  • The perception of  brightness depends on the amplitude of the oscillation of light waves. Amplitude is a measure of the height of light waves from trough to peak.
  • The amplitude of a light wave or the intensity of light can be thought of in terms of the volume of photons that it carries.
  • Increase the amplitude of a wavelength of light and the volume of photons falling on an object will increase its apparent brightness to an observer.