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How to make a #theDress

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Abstract

If we completely understand how a phenomenon works, we should be able to produce it ourselves. However, the individual differences in color appearance observed with #theDress seem to be a peculiarity of that photo, and it remains unclear how the proposed mechanisms underlying #theDress can be generalized to other images. Here, we developed a simple algorithm that transforms any image with bicolored objects into an image with the properties of #theDress. We measured the colors perceived in such images and compared them to those perceived in #theDress. Color adjustments confirmed that observers strongly differ in how they perceive the colors of the new images in a similar way as for #theDress. Most importantly, these differences were not unsystematic, but correlated with how observers perceive #theDress. These results imply that the color distribution is sufficient to produce the striking individual differences in color perception originally observed with #theDress—at least as long as the image appears realistic and hence compels the viewer to make assumptions about illuminations and surfaces. The algorithm can be used for stimulus production beyond this study.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

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