Pictorial depth cues: A new slant

G. Lee Zimmerman, Gordon E. Legge, Patrick Cavanagh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Pictorial depth cues such as perspective projection, aspect ratio, and texture gradients can specify mathemati­cally the slant of a planar surface. We performed experiments to measure the accuracy of human perception of surface slant from these cues. We calculated the perceived slant from judgments of the relative lengths of a pair of orthogonal lines embedded in the surface. Our results indicate that slant judgments are accurate to within 3 deg. This level of accuracy was achieved whether the cues were luminance differences or equilu- minous color differences. We found no evidence of the recession to the frontal plane that has been reported by Gibson [J. J. Gibson, The Perception of the Visual World (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, Mass., 1950)] and others. We did find evidence suggesting that subjects do not make accurate depth estimates of disconnected surfaces. This may be the source of the discrepancy between our measures and those of Gibson and others. This research, combined with previous findings, supports a model of perception that involves at least two and possibly more representations of space: One local veridical representation of surface orientation derived pri­marily from pictorial cues and another global representation of observer-centered distance derived primarily from binocular disparity and motion parallax.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-26
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Optical Society of America A: Optics and Image Science, and Vision
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1995


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