Shape from shading from images rendered with various surface types and light fields

Byung Geun Khang, Jan J. Koenderink, Astrid M.L. Kappers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Shape constancy is referred to as the tendency for the perceived shape of an object to remain unchanged even under changed viewing and illumination conditions. We investigated, in two experiments, whether shape constancy would hold for images of 3-D solid objects defined by shading only, whose renderings differed in terms of surface material type (bi-directional reflectance distribution functions), light field, light direction, shape, and specularity. Observers were presented with the image of a sphere or an ellipsoid and required to set perceived orientation and cross-section profile on designated points of the image. Results showed that shape judgments varied with all the aforementioned variables except specularity. Shape estimates were more precise with specular than asperity scattering surfaces, collimated than hemispherical diffuse lighting conditions, lower than higher elevations, spherical than ellipsoidal shapes, but not different between surfaces having differing specularity. These results suggest that shape judgments are made largely on the basis of the overall intensity distribution of shading, and that the portions of intensity distribution that are due to nonstructural variables such as surface material type or light field are not excluded in the process of shape estimation, as if being due to structural components. It is concluded that little constancy is expected in the perception of shape from shading.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1191-1213
Number of pages23
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


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