Effects of light map orientation and shape on the visual perception of canonical materials

J Vis. 2020 Apr 9;20(4):13. doi: 10.1167/jov.20.4.13.


We previously presented a systematic optics-based canonical approach to test material-lighting interactions in their full natural ecology, combining canonical material and lighting modes. Analyzing the power of the spherical harmonics components of the lighting allowed us to predict the lighting effects on material perception for generic natural illumination environments. To further understand how material properties can be brought out or communicated visually, in the current study, we tested whether and how light map orientation and shape affect these interactions in a rating experiment: For combinations of four materials, three shapes, and three light maps, we rotated the light maps in 15 different configurations. For the velvety objects, there were main and interaction effects of lighting and light map orientation. The velvety ratings decreased when the main light source was coming from the back of the objects. For the specular objects, there were main and interaction effects of lighting and shape. The specular ratings increased when the environment in the specular reflections was clearly visible in the stimuli. For the glittery objects, there were main and interaction effects of shape and light map orientation. The glittery ratings correlated with the coverage of the glitter reflections as the shape and light map orientation varied. For the matte objects, results were robust across all conditions. Last, we propose combining the canonical modes approach with so-called importance maps to analyze the appearance features of the proximal stimulus, the image, in contradistinction to the physical parameters as an approach for optimization of material communication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology
  • Form Perception / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Light*
  • Orientation, Spatial / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*