Abstract

An important goal in characterizing human color vision is to order color percepts in a way that captures their similarities and differences. This has resulted in the continuing evolution of “uniform color spaces,” in which the distances within the space represent the perceptual differences between the stimuli. While these metrics are now very successful in predicting how color percepts are scaled, they do so in largely empirical, ad hoc ways, with limited reference to actual mechanisms of color vision. In this article our aim is to instead begin with general and plausible assumptions about color coding, and then develop a model of color appearance that explicitly incorporates them. We show that many of the features of empirically defined color order systems (those of Munsell, Pantone, NCS, and others) as well as many of the basic phenomena of color perception, emerge naturally from fairly simple principles of color information encoding in the visual system and how it can be optimized for the spectral characteristics of the environment.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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