Soft Like Velvet And Shiny Like Satin: Perceptual Material Signatures Of Fabrics Depicted In 17(Th) Century Paintings


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Dutch 17(th) century painters were masters in depicting materials and their properties in a convincing way. Here, we studied the perception of the material signatures and key image features of different depicted fabrics, like satin and velvet. We also tested whether the perception of fabrics depicted in paintings related to local or global cues, by cropping the stimuli. In Experiment 1, roughness, warmth, softness, heaviness, hairiness, and shininess were rated for the stimuli shown either full figure or cropped. In the full figure, all attributes except shininess were rated higher for velvet, whereas shininess was rated higher for satin. This distinction was less clear in the cropped condition, and some properties were perceived significantly different between the two conditions. In Experiment 2 we tested whether this difference was due to the choice of the cropped area. On the basis of the results of Experiment 1, shininess and softness were rated for multiple crops from each fabric. Most crops from the same fabric differed significantly in shininess, but not in softness perception. Perceived shininess correlated positively with the mean luminance of the crops and the highlights' coverage. Experiment showed that painted velvet and satin triggered distinct perceptions, indicative of robust material signatures of the two fabrics. The results of Experiment 2 suggest that the presence of local image cues affects the perception of optical properties like shininess, but not mechanical properties such as softness.
material perception, fabrics, softness, shininess, image cues, paintings
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