In many datasets in the literature of both Computer Vision and Computer Graphics there is the albedo map of a scene represented as RGB images, which in principle corresponds to the diffuse reflecting component. The diffuse reflectance factor though of a material/surface is represented a one value, usually as ρ (rho), e.g. in the radiosity formulation. Thus, I am trying to understand how to go from an RGB representation to the corresponding diffuse value. I saw some people averaging the RGB values of the albedo map, e.g. for a pixel value (0, 168, 170) this would give:

((0/255) + (168/255) + (170/255)) / 3 = 0.441830065359477

however is just averaging enough/correct or there is a specific formulation.

I am puzzled quite some time now about it and I cannot really find a good answer. Thus, I would appreciate any feedback.

  • $\begingroup$ Radiosity (and any type of rendering formulation) needs to represent diffuse reflectance as a color, whether RGB or spectral, not as a single value for the whole spectrum. That wouldn't be correct; you wouldn't get colored bounce light e.g. in the Cornell Box. $\endgroup$ Sep 15, 2020 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ @NathanReed this is not necessary. What you are saying is correct if you work on the color world. But in case that you do not care to represent the radiance/irradiance as color but rather than as energy color does not matter. $\endgroup$
    – ttsesm
    Sep 22, 2020 at 8:00

1 Answer 1


I am not aware of what LRV is and what is a usage of it. However, I can recommend using luma instead of simply averaging RGB values with equal weight:

Human eyes are more sensitive to green colors [1], that's why 16 bit (aka high color [2]) palettes, might prefer to use R5G6B5 format.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_vision

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_color

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ from my research you answer is almost correct the suggested way to do it is first to linearize your image, address the gamma correction and then get the luma. $\endgroup$
    – ttsesm
    Sep 22, 2020 at 8:07

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