Metamerism – The Metamorphosis Of Color
Have you ever chosen the perfect color for your walls at the paint store, only to get home and find that it looks like a completely different color? How about pairing up a paint color to a pillow or other item only to discover it doesn’t match at all once the paint is up on the wall. Or, maybe you painted a room and one of the walls looks like it was painted a different color? All these scenarios are most likely caused by a phenomenon called metamerism.
Following is Wikipedia’s definition of metamerism: In colorimetry, metamerism is the matching of the apparent color of objects without matching the spectral power distributions. Colors that match this way are called metamers.
In the painting world, metamerism describes the effect that light has on color that results in changes to the appearance. If you take a board with paint on it and move it around the room, lay it down or hold it up over your head, the color will change, depending on how the lighting is hitting it. If you leave the board in one spot, you can watch the color change throughout the day as the sun rises and sets.
Metamerism can make choosing a color for your room a challenge. The color might be exactly what you are looking for at 2:32 p.m., but as the sun moves and lighting changes, it may turn drab or go a little too bright. A world without metamerism would be boring and flat, so I appreciate metamers. I enjoy the variations in colors that occur because of lighting.
Most commonly, we run into trouble when we take a paint color and change the sheens. Sheen refers to how flat or shiny the paint is. There are a myriad of sheens, but the most common are flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and high gloss. We generally choose a color based on a paint chip, which is made of ink. Then we choose a sheen and that changes how much light the paint will absorb or reflect. This sheen variation can make it look like the color is different or wrong, when in fact, it is a spot on match.
I hope you have enjoyed this lesson in metamerism and that it helps you to appreciate the ever changing colorful world around us.
Until next time!