Color is an essential part of our visual world. Colors change depending on light sources, background, and surrounding colors. The way in which we perceive color also varies. For example, you might see a red apple next to a blue sky as pink. This happens because your brain can only interpret some colors in relation to their surroundings. In this article we will discuss how our brains interpret color and explain why the same object with the same color looks different depending on its surrounding.

Therefore, you cannot fit the right color without knowing the surrounding context. It just does not work like that. We already know, that color perception changes based on nearby colors, lights and even objects. Size, shape, distance, angle and other properties significantly affect what we see.

How the brain interprets color

The human eye has three types of photoreceptors. These receptors convert photons into electrical signals. Each type of receptor senses different wavelengths of visible light. There are two types of cones (red and green) and one type of rod (blue). Rods are not used for vision and are instead responsible for dim-light adaptation.

Our eyes have a limited range of sensitivity within the spectrum. Therefore, they can only detect a small portion of all possible colors. Humans have around 10 million cone cells and 4.5 billion rods. However, our neurons in the back of the retina still have a lot of information to process. They need to distinguish between millions of colors at once to be able to recognize an image. How the brain does this is called color constancy.

This process involves many steps. First, there is a conversion from photons to electrical impulses in the rods and cones. Then, these impulses travel along the optic nerve to the lateral geniculate nucleus, where they are processed again. Finally, they reach the primary visual cortex where the final decision about the color is made.

The brain uses spatial cues to determine if something is closer or farther away. If it is close, then there is less time available for processing and so we may see things as darker. On the other hand, if we are looking at something far away, then the signal takes longer to get to us and so we tend to see it brighter. Our brains also use optical clues, such as shadows and brightness, to make sense of the scene.

Optical illusions are often based on color

Colors affect our perception of objects. Objects perceived as lighter than the background become brighter when compared to the background. But this is not always true. For example, if the object is surrounded by dark surfaces, it may appear grayish.

There are several ways in which the brain interprets colors. The most basic rule of thumb is that any object that is adjacent to a dark colored surface appears darker, while anything adjacent to a bright surface appears brighter. This is known as the law of adjacent colors.

Other studies show that colors can influence each other as well. A study conducted by Dr. David L. Brainard and his team showed that adjacent blue and yellow stripes could cause people to see purple. The researchers explained this by saying “that both blue and yellow induce a shift in the appearance of the adjacent purple stripe.”

Importance of context when choosing the right color

When we look at something, our brain needs to take all the relevant variables into account. It needs to consider the shape, size, distance, angle, and other factors before deciding whether the thing is black, white, brown, gold or any other color.

In fact, the brain has to do this with every single piece of information that comes into view. It needs to decide how much of a given color should be present, and how much of another color should be present for it to register as white or black.

For instance, let’s say you’re looking at a white wall. The wall has a white top and bottom part, but you can’t see them due to the reflection off a window behind the wall. You can assume that the rest of the wall is white because the wall itself reflects all of the light coming towards it.

However, if you now turn towards the window, you’ll notice that the window isn’t reflecting as much light as you thought it would. So, you begin to see a faint trace of grey on the white part of the wall. Your brain doesn’t want to see grey, so it begins to fill in the gaps with white.

This is how our brains compensate for missing data. When we don’t have enough information, we try to fill in the blanks. A good example of this is when you look at the sky through a hole in the roof. The sky is usually white from horizon to horizon. But sometimes there might be clouds blocking out the sun. In those situations, the sky gets tinted grey.

How to create the desired effect using color

Creating the illusion of depth with colors is relatively easy. Just place a dark object near a light object. Or alternatively, place a light object near a dark object.

If you were to paint the black wall a different color, it wouldn’t look as deep. To achieve a deeper impression, the object must be placed against a dark wall. If you were to paint the wall different colors, you won’t be able to achieve the effect.

To further enhance the illusion, you can add more layers, such as placing a second layer of dark material over the first. This will give the illusion of deeper shade.

How to compare colors side by side

It is impossible to directly compare colors. You can never tell which color is more intense or lighter, unless you know all the other relevant details.

But you can estimate relative values of colors using color gradients. A gradient is a gradual transition between two colors that goes up or down the entire color scale. For example, a warm orange is closer to pure red than a cool blue.

Gradient tools can be found in almost every photo editing app. Some popular apps include Photoshop, GIMP, Paint Tool Sai, and Corel Photo Paint.

You can also find gradients online, if you search Google Images for the following word plus a specific color: “green + blue”, you’ll see numerous images containing gradients.

But there is no substitute for actually seeing the colors together.