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THE DIMENSIONS

INTRODUCED

Thehueof any given colour is its closest match within the range of
"pure"or"saturated"colours.Intermsofphysicalcolourstimulus,thisis
the range of hues seen in the spectrum (red, orange, yellow, green, cyan,
blue,violet),plusthenonspectral(purple)huesseenwhenthetwoendsof
the spectrum are mixed. In terms ofcolour itself, that is, the mental
experience generated by our visual system, it is the range of the four
fundamentalopponenthues, red, yellow, green and blue, and their
respective intermediates. TheCommission Internationale de LEclairage
(CIE)acknowledgestheopponentmodelindefininghueas"theattribute
ofavisualsensationaccordingto whichanareaappearstobesimilarto
oneoftheperceivedcolours,red,yellow,greenandblue,oracombination
of two of them".

FOR ANISOLATEDLIGHT, HUE DEPENDS PRIMARILY BY THE


PHYSICALPROPERTYOFDOMINANT WAVELENGTH, ALTHOUGHTHE
HUEOFLIGHTOFMOSTWAVELENGTHSVARIESSOMEWHATWITH
BRIGHTNESS(BEZOLD-BRUCKE EFFECT) AND SATURATION (ABNEY
EFFECT).
FOR ANOBJECTIN A NATURAL SCENE, THE CAPACITY OF OUR
VISUAL SYSTEM FORCOLOURCONSTANCYMEANS THAT ITS
PERCEIVED HUE IS DETERMINED TO A LARGE EXTENT BY THE
DOMINANT
WAVELENGTH
OF
ITS
REFLECTANCE
UNDERWHITELIGHT, AS LONG AS THE ILLUMINATION OF THE
SCENE IS NOT TOO STRONGLY COLOURED. NEVERTHELESS, AN
OBJECTCANVARYCONSIDERABLYINPERCEIVEDHUEDEPENDING
ONSURROUNDING,INTERSPERSED ANDPREVIOUSLYVIEWED
COLOURS, AND EVEN ON THE ATTITUDE OF THE VIEWER. IN
VIEWING ANIMAGE,OUR CAPACITY TO EXTRACT OBJECT
COLOURINFORMATIONFROMAVISUALSCENECAN CAUSEUSTO
PERCEIVE HUES VERY DIFFERENT FROM THE ACTUAL IMAGE
HUES.

VALUE (= GRAYSCALE VALUE, LIGHTNESS, TONE)


Valueis the scale between black and white. The termsvalue,
lightness, greyscale valueandtoneallrefertothesamescale,although
sometimes "tone" can specifically connote the degree ofdarknessas
opposed to lightness. Value is defined scientifically as the perceived
brightness of an object compared to that of a perfect white object
underthesameillumination.
Valuecanbequantifiedinvariousways,suchasonascaleoften,
as in the Munsell system, or of 100, as in CIE lightness (L*)and
the "L"in Lab colour space, used in Photoshop. Black and white
glossypaintsattainMunsellvaluesofabout0.5and9.5respectively,
leaving basically nine numbered values for coloured paints. Other
paintersuse aninformalvaluescaleofnine perceptuallyequalsteps
betweenblackandwhitepaintinclusive.

FOR PHYSICAL,LIGHTREFLECTINGOBJECTS,VALUE DEPENDS


ONTHEPHYSICALPROPERTYOFREFLECTANCE, THEPROPORTION
OF THE INCIDENT LIGHT ENERGY THAT IS REFLECTED BY THE
OBJECT, BUT THE MATHEMATICAL RELATIONSHIP IS INDIRECT.
INTHE FIRST PLACE, LIGHT ENERGY MUST BE CONVERTED
TOLUMINANCE (Y)BY BEING WEIGHTED WAVELENGTH BY
WAVELENGTHACCORDINGTOITSEFFECTONTHEHUMANVISUAL
SYSTEM (HIGHEST FOR YELLOWISH GREEN LIGHT; LOWEST AT
THE ENDS OF THE SPECTRUM). SECONDLY, VALUE HAS
ANONLINEARRELATIONSHIP TO LUMINANCE - A SURFACE THAT
LOOKS VISUALLY HALFWAY BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE
REFLECTS ONLY ABOUT 18% OF THE LIGHT ENERGY REFLECTED
BY
A
WHITE
SURFACE.
FOR IMAGE COLOURS ON ALIGHT-EMITTINGSCREEN, VALUE
(=L IN LAB SPACE) DEPENDS IN A SIMILAR, NONLINEAR WAY ON
LUMINANCE RELATIVE TO AN AREA OF THE SCREEN PERCEIVED
TO
BE
WHITE.

CHROMA
Chromais thestrengthof an object colour, the degree of visual
difference from neutral grey. Foran object to have high chroma, its
reflectancemustbesuchthatitreflectsalargeamountoflightfrom
part of the spectrum, and little light from the remainder. The
potential range of chroma therefore varies strongly for different
values and hues: at maximum value (white) and minimum value
(black), chroma can only be zero. As we move away from these
extremestherangeofpossiblechromaincreasesuptoamaximumat
someintermediatevalue.Thevalueatwhichthismaxiumumchroma
occurs depends on the hue, and for example is very high for yellow
and low for violet and blue. The dimension of chroma (Greek for
"colour") was introduced by Albert Munsell (1905), who also
quantified the concept, and in doing so established that fordifferent
hues,themaximumchromaobtainablewithpaintsnotonlyoccursat
differentvalues,butalsovariesinabsolutemagnitude

CHROMA CAN BE REPRESENTED GRAPHICALLY BY


DISTANCES OUTWARD FROM THE CENTRE OF A HUE
CIRCLE, EITHER IN PERCEPTUALLY EQUAL STEPS, AND
HENCETOVARYING DISTANCES FROMTHE CENTRE (AS
INTHEMUNSELL BOOK OF COLOR),ORNORMALIZEDTO
PRODUCE THE REGULAR CIRCULAR ARRANGEMENT
SEEN IN SIMPLER GEOMETRICAL CONCEPTIONS LIKE
THEHISTORICAL"ARTISTS'COLOURWHEEL"

IN SEVERAL IMPORTANT MATHEMATICAL COLOUR SPACES,


COLOURS ARE ARRANGED CONSISTENTLY WITH THE
DIMENSIONS OFHUE,VALUEAND CHROMA, BUTIN SPECIFYING
THE COLOURS HUE AND CHROMA ARE REPLACED BYTWO
CHROMA DIMENSIONSAT RIGHT ANGLES TO EACH OTHER, IN
DIRECTIONSLOOSELYRELATED TO THE OPPONENT HUES. THUS
INSTEADOFBEINGDESCRIBEDASHAVINGANORANGEHUEATA
CERTAIN
CHROMA,

A COLOUR IS SPECIFIED AS HAVING SO MUCH REDDISH


CHROMA AND SO MUCH YELLOWISH CHROMA. INCIE L*A*B*
COLOUR SPACE(FIG. 1.2.3A), WIDELY USED IN COLOURIMETRY
AND COLOUR MANAGEMENT, AND IN THE SIMILAR"LAB"
COLOUR SPACEUSED IN GRAPHICS PROGRAMS SUCH AS
PHOTOSHOP,
THE +A/-AAND+B/-BCHROMA
DIMENSIONS
CORRESPOND ROUGHLY WITH THE MUNSELL 10RP/10G AND
5Y/5PB HUEAXES RESPECTIVELY. THE COLOUR SPACES KNOWN
ASYCBCR(FIG.1.2.3B),

YUVANDYIQ, USED IN TELEVISION, VIDEO AND JPG


COMPRESSION
ARE
ALSO
OF
THIS
KIND.
THESEORTHOGONALSPACES PERMIT A COLOUR TO BE
SPECIFIED FROM SPECTRSCOPIC MEASUREMENTS WITHOUT
REQUIRINGDIRECTHUMANJUDGEMENTOFHUEANDCHROMA,
AND THEIR ARRANGEMENT IS MUCH BETTER SUITED TO
CALCULATING
COLOUR
DIFFERENCES.
WHEN A MORE INTUITIVE REPRESENTATION IS REQUIRED,
CIE L*A*B* COORDINATES CAN BE VERY SIMPLY CONVERTED
TOMETRICHUE, VALUE AND CHROMA(LCH = L*H*C*OR HLC),
WHICH CORRELATE CLOSELY THOUGH NOT PERFECTLY WITH
THE CORRESPONDING MUNSELL DIMENSIONS. THERAL DESIGN
ATLAS, A PHYSICAL COLOUR ATLAS THAT EMBODIES THIS
SYSTEM,HASHUEPAGESOFCOLOUREDCHIPSARRANGEDLIKE
THOSEOFTHEMUNSELL BOOK OF COLOR.

BRIGHTNESSAND "BRILLIANCE"

Wespeakoflightitselfasbeingbrighterordimmer,ratherthanhaving
lighterordarkergreyscale value, and this scale of perceived intensity
of light is calledbrightness. Brightness is a psychological experience
that is difficult to quantify, and is strongly influenced by the state of
adaptationoftheobserver.Forexample,yourlaptopscreenisprobably
comfortablybrightwhenviewedindoors,butverydimoutdoors,even
thoughitemitsexactlythesameamountoflightenergy.

When we speak of brightness in the context of graphics programs we


are generally concerned withrelativebrightness measured in relation
toafinitescalesetbythemaximumbrightnessonagivendevice,asfor
example the nonlinear R, G and B brightnesses of an RGB colour.
Relativebrightnessiscorrelatedwiththephysicalquantityofrelative
light energy, butviathe same nonlinear relationship as explained for
valueandluminance.

ALTHOUGH COLOURS ON A COMPUTER SCREEN CAN BE


DESCRIBEDINTERMSOFHUE,VALUEANDCHROMA,THEYARE
VERY FREQUENTLY SPECIFIED IN GRAPHICS PROGRAMS IN
TERMS OF THE HUE, SATURATION AND BRIGHTNESS OF
THELIGHTCOMING FROM THE SCREEN, USING A COLOUR
SPACE KNOWN ASHSB
(=HSV)(FIG. 1.2.4).BRIGHTNESS
(B)ANDSATURATION (S)IN HSB ARE BOTH DEFINED RELATIVE
TOTHERANGEOFRGB(SCREEN)COLOURS.HSBBRIGHTNESS IS
BRIGHTNESSRELATIVETOTHEMAXIMUMAVAILABLEFORRGB
COLOURS OF A GIVEN HUE (H) AND SATURATION (S).

BRIGHT COLOURS, WHICH EXHIBIT NEITHER


POSITIVE BRILLIANCE (LUMINOSITY) NOR NEGATIVE
BRILLIANCE (BLACKNESS) ARE SAID TO HAVE ZERO
GREYNESS(G0).

OTHER DIMENSIONAL SYSTEMS

In schemes such as the modern Swedish NCS system and


the historically important Ostwald system, object colours
are considered to be resolvable into white, black and
coloured components. Dimensions known aswhiteness,
blacknessand chromaticness(= relativechroma) respectively
arerepresentedonanequilateraltrianglewithwhite,black
and the supposed "pure" colour at the upper, lower and
outer corners respectively (Fig. 1.2.7C). The "pure"colour
isalwaysshownatalevelhalfwaybetweenblackandwhite,
regardlessofitsMunsellvalue,whichisnotrepresentedin
these systems. One fundamental difficulty for all such
systemsistheselectionofarepresentativeofeachhuetobe
regarded as the "pure" colour, which as we have seen is a
problematicconceptforobjectcolours.

FOUR APPROACHES TO DIVIDING UP A HUE PAGE. IN


DIFFERENTPLACESANDMODESWITHINPHOTOSHOP,THE
EXPRESSION "SATURATION" CAN REFER TO HSV
SATURATION, HLS "SATURATION", CHROMATICNESS OR
CHROMA!
Many digital programs use a colour space known as
HLS (=HSL), which is based on easily calculated but arbitrary
dimensions
confusingly
called
"lightness" (L)and
"saturation" (S)(Fig. 1.2.7D). Colours assigned a so-called
"lightness" of 0.5 include all digital hues at their maximum
strength, as well as a middle grey, and so include colours varying
widely in Munsell value. Like the NCS and Ostwald systems, this
givesthecolourspacetheformofasymmetricaldoublecone,much
simpler than the irregular "tree-shape" of Munsell and CIE
L*a*b*. So-called "saturation" in HLS is essentially
chromarelative to the maximum possible for that hue and
"lightness".
We will consider all of these dimensions in more detail in
Parts7-9, and then go on to outline theirpractical importance for
painters inPart10. But first we need to review some of the basic
factsoflightandcolour.

THANKING YOU