user's avatar
Experimenting The Subjectivity Of Colors
"People can have the 'Model T' in any color - so long as it's black" 
- Henry Ford
"The only color I don't have is navy brown" 
- Yogi Berra

It is known since ancient time that color is a matter of subjective sensitivity. No one sees the same colors! Because colors imply so much factors like physical, biological and psychological factors.

Our brain is a great ‘comparative computer’ but it doesn’t always get things right when it comes to color... In this page will find the most amazing illusive and optic effects induced by colors, such as: color constancy, simultaneous color contrast, color adaptation and assimilation.

Stained Glass Illusion
Have a look at the panes indicated by arrows.
Are they the same color?
The pane that looks green is actually the SAME color as the pane that looks red! (see the animated gif below)
This illusion has been featured in the August 2015 issue of BBC Scienza, Italy.
Illusive Color Sofa
Have a look at the sofa and answer this simple question: which broad stripe of tissue, B or C, has exactly the same gray tone as the broad stripe A?
The picture below shows that the stripes A and C have exactly the same shade. A color always seems brighter when surrounded by dark colors, or darker, when placed on a light background. This experiment demonstrates that the perceived brightness doesn’t rely only on the amount of light that reaches the eye from the observed object.
What Color Are The Pills?
Have a look at these two pills. Can you tell what color they are?  Do they look blue and yellow or gray and gray?
Watch the animation below, as the background is removed and the answer will be revealed.
The yellow hand and background make the gray pill appear to be blue and the blue hand and background make the gray pill appear to be yellow.
Cat’s Eyes
It looks like this cat has green eyes. Actually, only one eye is green – the other one is shown in black and white but seems tinted because of the purple context. As shown in the animation further below…
Thanks to a mechanism of color adaptation, the brain desensitizes itself to the purple veil which covers the right side of the cat’s face and by doing that it subtracts a bit of purple from the gray eye, which then becomes yellowish-green. As shown in the animation below.
This illustration has been taken from my book "Super Optical Illusions"
There is also a French version of the book here.
Bovine Fly
This illusion shows the interaction between color perception and afterimages. As you can see, the left image representing a cow has a color imbalance: there is too much blue on one side and too much yellow on the other.
Now fixate your gaze on the fly in the right color table for 30 seconds: this staring will make your eye adapt to a blue hue on the left and yellow on the right. As a result, your left visual field will become less sensitive to blue and your right visual field less sensitive to yellow. Then, when you look back at the fly on the cow’s nose, the image will appear to have a perfect color balance!
This illustration has been featured in the Scientific American magazine.
Colorize The Tiger
To "magically" restore the colors of the photo of the tiger stare at the small cross in the middle of the blue pattern for about 15 seconds. Then quickly look again at the tiger!
This illustration was taken from my book “Eye Bogglers”.
Enjoy also this animated version of the above experiment!
Did you enjoy these visual experiments? Please, follow my author page on Amazon.
Thank you for visiting!
Gianni A. Sarcone
Author, Artist and Researcher in Visual Perception
Experimenting The Subjectivity Of Colors
user's avatar
Gianni A. Sarcone

Experimenting The Subjectivity Of Colors

Visual experiments involving colors and shades