To Skip Navigation Press Enter.Link to the Color Usage Site Home Page
Use the category links below to navigate this web site. All site pages can also be accessed with the site map.
Design Process Color Graphics Topics Color Tool Color Guidelines Aerospace
Color Science Utilities Site Map
Link back to the CURL Home Page

COLOR AND POPOUT


This page describes the perceptual phenomenon called popout and the use of color to achieve popout.

Complicated graphics often include a large number of small symbols distributed across a background. There are many ways to graphically distinguish subsets of symbols, but only a few of those ways will cause the subset to be immediately apparent, to perceptually stand out as a separate group from the other symbols. All the other graphic distinctions require "serial search"--you have to look at the symbols one by one to see if each is in the subset. This phenomenon of preattentive perceptual isolation is called "popout" in the jargon of perception research.

Hue is one of the symbol attributes that is capable of producing popout.

More than one subset can be distinguished with hue, but overuse reduces the strength of the effect. This should especially be avoided when the popout is being used as part of a hazard alert.

 

 

Find the "L"s and "I"s:

Approximately 40 black capital T's, some inverted, and two black capital I's and two capital L's. The I's and L's can be located only by inspecting each character sequentially

There are two "L"s and two "I"s in these figures. The red and magenta codings on the right make them stand out instantly, without having to inspect each symbol. Approximately 40 black capital T's, some inverted, and two magenta capital I's and two magenta capital L's. The color coding makes the I's and L's instantyly visible without sequential search.  

Approximately 40 black, red, green, and blue capital T's, some inverted, and two magenta capital I's and two magenta capital L's. The additional, irrelevant color coding reduces the popout of the I's and L's.

Here the "I"s are still magenta, but they are slightly harder to locate due to the addition of three more hue coded subsets.

Related Topics:
go to this page
Urgency Hierarchies
go to this page Attention Management
go to this page Blinking, Flashing, and Temporal Response



About This Site

Home
| Design Process | Color Graphics Topics | Color Tool | Guidelines | Aerospace | Color Science | Utilities

  Site Curator: Jeffrey McCandless | Responsible NASA Official: Jeffrey McCandless | Privacy Statement


NASA Logo     Ames Research Center Logo     Human Systems Integration Division Logo