A phenomenological representation of iridescent colors in butterfly wings

J.-C. Gonzato
University of Bordeaux 1 - LaBRI - INRIA Futur
F-33405 & Talence

e-mail: gonzato@labri.fr


B. Pont
University of Bordeaux 1
IUT Bordeaux 1
F-47000 & Agen

e-mail: bernard.pont@iut.u-bordeaux1.fr



The representation of the color of butterflies has always been a challenge to artists, whatever the medium involved. These colors are highly complex to reproduce, even with the use of computer generated images. This article introduces a new algorithm developed to simulate and generate the iridescent colors that are found on the wings of particular butterflies. The model presented here is based on the scientific description of the butterfly Morpho menelaus. Wing color is determined by interference, diffraction, absorption and reflection of light on microscopic wing's structures. The color varies depending on a combination of the following parameters: view angle, incidence and characteristics of the light source, and surrounding medium. This algorithm which tends to real-time imaging required by computer graphics artists still renders images with a fairly high degree of accuracy.