Shape constancy in pictorial relief

Jan J. Koenderink, Andrea J. Van Doom, Chris Christou, Joseph S. Lappin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pictorial relief was measured for a series of pictures of a smooth solid object. The scene was geometrically identical (ie the perspective of the three-dimensional scene remained the same) for all pictures, the rendering different. Some of the pictures were monochrome full-scale photographs taken under different illumination of the scene. Also included were a silhouette (uniform black on uniform white) and a 'cartoon'-style rendering (visual contour and key linear features rendered in thin black line on a uniform white ground). Two subjects were naive and started with the silhouette, saw the cartoon next, and finally the full-scale photographs. Another subject had seen the object and did the experiment in the opposite sequence. The silhouette rendering is impoverished, but has considerable relief with much of the basic shape. The cartoon rendering yields well-developed pictorial relief, even for the naive subjects. Shading adds only small local details, but different illumination produces significant alterations of relief. It is concluded that shape constancy under changes in illumination is dominant throughout, but that the (small) deviations from true constancy reveal the effect of cues such as shading in a natural setting. Such a 'perturbation analysis' appears more promising than either stimulus-reduction or cue-conflict paradigms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-164
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1996


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