A two dimensional image of an object can look glossy because of locally dark regions, and not just because of locally bright regions as previously believed, a study published online this week in Nature Neuroscience. These findings shed light on what information the visual system may use to perceive gloss, and it may also be useful for rendering glossiness in computer graphics.
We intuitively think of glossiness as the result of reflections of light off a surface that is smooth, shiny or wet.
Juno Kim and colleagues added local dark or light regions to artificial two-dimensional surfaces, and then asked participants in their study to report whether the surfaces looked glossy. They found that adding dark areas and bright areas to a matte surface could make the surface appear glossy. Even surfaces composed only of arrangements of dark regions created a compelling perception of glossiness.