How do human observers perceive visual complexity in images? This problem is especially relevant for computer graphics,
where a better understanding of visual complexity can aid in the development of more advanced rendering algorithms. In
this paper, we describe a study of the dimensionality of visual complexity in computer graphics scenes. We conducted
an experiment where subjects judged the relative complexity of 21 high-resolution scenes, rendered with photorealistic
methods. Scenes were gathered from web archives and varied in theme, number and layout of objects, material properties,
We analyzed the subject responses using multidimensional scaling of pooled subject responses. This analysis embedded
the stimulus images in a two-dimensional space, with axes that roughly corresponded to "numerosity" and "material /
lighting complexity". In a follow-up analysis, we derived a one-dimensional complexity ordering of the stimulus images.
We compared this ordering with several computable complexity metrics, such as scene polygon count and JPEG compression
size, and did not find them to be very correlated. Understanding the differences between these measures can lead to
the design of more efficient rendering algorithms in computer graphics.