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Unraveling the Role of Film Thickness in Color Perception

The perception of color has intrigued both scientists and artists for centuries, offering a fascinating glimpse into the human visual experience.

In this article, we embark on a journey through the mesmerizing world of color perception, exploring how our eyes adapt to changing lighting conditions and the intriguing challenges posed by metamerism in accurately matching and perceiving colors.

Film Thickness

1. The Marvel of Chromatic Adaptation: Adapting to Shifting Light

Embracing Change in Illumination

Picture this: you're observing an object under simulated daylight, and suddenly, the lighting changes to tungsten, causing the colors to shift noticeably.

This remarkable phenomenon is known as chromatic adaptation.

Our eyes possess an astonishing ability to swiftly adapt to changes in illuminants, enabling us to perceive colors consistently.

Despite significant shifts in the spectral composition of light, our perception of colors remains relatively stable.

For instance, blues may appear warmer, but we still recognize them as blue rather than purple.

Objects that maintain their perceived color amidst changing illuminants exhibit color constancy.

2. The Resilience of Color Constancy

Consistency Amidst Illuminant Variability

Color constancy is the unsung big hero of color perception.

It refers to our remarkable ability to perceive objects with consistent color appearances under varying illuminants.

Even as the spectral composition of light reaching our eyes changes, color constancy ensures that we see the colors of familiar objects as relatively stable.

However, not all objects share this ability.

Some may shift in description when the illuminant changes, and specific light sources, like certain fluorescent lamps, can cause perceived color changes that affect our perception of objects.

3. Metamerism: The Color Matching Enigma

The Challenge of Perfect Color Matches

Metamerism presents a formidable challenge in the world of color matching.

It occurs when colorants in two objects possess different spectral distributions, resulting in a match under one illuminant but not under another.

This becomes particularly problematic when ink matchers rely on standard bases that differ from those used in the original pattern.

The article explores how metameric matches are characterized by the crossing of spectral reflectance curves, leading to perceived matches under specific illuminants but noticeable color discrepancies in others, especially with the involvement of fluorescent lamps.

4. Geometric Metamerism: Gloss and Illumination's Artistic Dance

The Intricacies of Gloss and Directional Light

Matching specimens with different gloss levels can be a puzzling endeavor.

Under highly directional illumination, the specular reflection from glossy surfaces can dilute colors with white light, desaturating the specimen.

This article dives into geometric metamerism, where specimens may appear to match from one angle but not from another, emphasizing the crucial role of illumination conditions in color assessment.

5. Dichroism: Film Thickness and Hue Variations

Unraveling the Influence of Film Thickness

Dichroism underlines the impact of film thickness on color appearance.

Changes in film thickness can lead to variations in hue, which must be considered when evaluating and matching colors.

The article highlights the importance of understanding dichroism in color matching applications.

6. Controlling Film Thickness for Color Consistency

Mastering the Art of Precision

In various industries such as printing, coatings, and ink formulation, film thickness plays a crucial role in color appearance.

The article underscores the significance of controlling film thickness to achieve accurate and consistent color reproduction, discussing thin film interference, pigment concentration, opacity, transparency, and substrate effects.


This article has taken you on a captivating journey through the world of color perception, from the marvel of chromatic adaptation to the enigma of metamerism.

It emphasizes the importance of understanding these phenomena and implementing proper standardization techniques in various industries to enhance color matching accuracy and consistency.

By doing so, color professionals can unlock the full potential of color perception in applications ranging from printing to textiles and manufacturing.