Colorful vs. Colorfulness

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Colorful and Colorfulness is that the Colorful is a visual perception of light wavelengths and Colorfulness is a perceived intensity of a specific color.

  • Colorful

    Color (American English) or colour (Commonwealth English) is the characteristic of human visual perception described through color categories, with names such as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, or purple. This perception of color derives from the stimulation of cone cells in the human eye by electromagnetic radiation in the spectrum of light. Color categories and physical specifications of color are associated with objects through the wavelength of the light that is reflected from them. This reflection is governed by the object’s physical properties such as light absorption, emission spectra, etc.

    By defining a color space, colors can be identified numerically by coordinates. The RGB color space for instance is a color space corresponding to human trichromacy and to the three cone cell types that respond to three bands of light: long wavelengths, peaking near 564–580 nm (red); medium-wavelength, peaking near 534–545 nm (green); and short-wavelength light, near 420–440 nm (blue). There may also be more than three color dimensions in other color spaces, such as in the CMYK color model, wherein one of the dimensions relates to a color’s colorfulness).

    The photo-receptivity of the “eyes” of other species also varies considerably from that of humans and so results in correspondingly different color perceptions that cannot readily be compared to one another. Honeybees and bumblebees for instance have trichromatic color vision sensitive to ultraviolet but is insensitive to red. Papilio butterflies possess six types of photoreceptors and may have pentachromatic vision. The most complex color vision system in the animal kingdom has been found in stomatopods (such as the mantis shrimp) with up to 12 spectral receptor types thought to work as multiple dichromatic units.

    The science of color is sometimes called chromatics, colorimetry, or simply color science. It includes the perception of color by the human eye and brain, the origin of color in materials, color theory in art, and the physics of electromagnetic radiation in the visible range (that is, what is commonly referred to simply as light).

  • Colorfulness

    Colorfulness, chroma and saturation are attributes of perceived color relating to chromatic intensity. As defined formally by the International Commission on Illumination (CIE) they respectively describe three different aspects of chromatic intensity, but the terms are often used loosely and interchangeably in contexts where these aspects are not clearly distinguished. The precise meanings of the terms vary by what other functions they are dependent on.

    Colorfulness is the “attribute of a visual perception according to which the perceived color of an area appears to be more or less chromatic”. The colorfulness evoked by an object depends not only on its spectral reflectance but also on the strength of the illumination, and increases with the latter unless the brightness is very high (Hunt effect).

    Chroma is the “colorfulness of an area judged as a proportion of the brightness of a similarly illuminated area that appears white or highly transmitting”. As a result, Chroma is mostly only dependent on the spectral properties, and as such is seen to describe the object color. It is how different from a grey of the same lightness such an object color appears to be.

    Saturation is the “colorfulness of an area judged in proportion to its brightness”, which in effect is the perceived freedom from whitishness of the light coming from the area. An object with a given spectral reflectance exhibits approximately constant saturation for all levels of illumination, unless the brightness is very high.As colorfulness, chroma and saturation are defined as attributes of perception they can not be physically measured as such, but they can be quantified in relation to psychometric scales intended to be perceptually even, for example the chroma scales of the Munsell system. While the chroma and lightness of an object are its colorfulness and brightness judged in proportion to the same thing (“the brightness of a similarly illuminated area that appears white or highly transmitting”), the saturation of the light coming from that object is in effect the chroma of the object judged in proportion to its lightness. On a Munsell hue page, lines of uniform saturation thus tend to radiate from near the black point, while lines of uniform chroma are vertical.

  • Colorful (adjective)

    Possessing colors.

  • Colorful (adjective)

    Interesting, multifaceted, energetic, distinctive.

  • Colorful (adjective)

    Profane, obscene, offensive (usually in the phrase colourful language).

  • Colorfulness (noun)

    The state of being colorful.

  • Colorfulness (noun)

    The perceived intensity of a specific color.


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