Perceived colour

Perceived colour refers to what an observer sees in any given situation and so is a subjective experience.

  • Our ability to perceive and distinguish between colours is crucial to how we experience and understand the world.
  • Perceived colour is influenced by the range and mixture of wavelengths and intensities of light that enter the eye.
  • Perceived colour can be influenced by the properties of light, objects, and the attributes of visual perception.
  • Colour perception tends to prioritize information that is important to an observer, but it may not always be objectively accurate.
  • The perceived colour of an object can be influenced by factors, such as the size, shape, and structure of objects, their position and orientation, and the direction of incident light.
  • Colour perception can be described by chromatic colour names (such as pink, orange, brown, green, blue, and purple) and achromatic colour names (such as black, grey or white).
  • Perceived colour is often a combination of chromatic and achromatic content.
  • The state of adaptation of an observer’s visual system can affect colour perception, such as when fatigued cells in the retina produce after-images.
  • An observer’s expectations, priorities, current activities, recollections, and previous experiences can all influence perceived colour.
  • The International Commission on Illumination (CIE) defines perceived colour as having three main characteristics: hue, brightness (or lightness), and colourfulness (or saturation/chroma).
  • Here at we often characterise colour in terms of hue, saturation and brightness and so align our discussions with the HSB colour model.