Pottery Sherd

To change the light direction, click the lightbulb button on the left of the viewer, and click and drag over the viewer with the mouse. Click the question mark button for more guidance on using the viewer.

Reflectance Transformation Imaging can be carried out with a minimum of equipment. This view of a potsherd from Syria was taken using a simple LED torch and a basic DSLR camera on a horizontal-arm tripod. You can see that the lighting of the image is not evenly cast, due to variation in the torch's light coverage, and variation in distance of the torch from the subject, but the result still provides an interactive view of the sherd, allowing better study of its construction and decoration.

For demonstration purposes, the black shiny sphere and turntable have been left in the image - this would usually be cropped out.

Examples of Visual Effects in RTI Viewer

Pottery sherd with normals visualisation

Normals visualisation creates a false colour image with each pixel’s ‘surface normal’ direction mapped to a colour palette - indicating which direction each surface is facing.

Pottery sherd with specular enhancement

Specular enhancement mathematically increases the image contrast, exaggerating the surface texture depth of the item.
In this example, by increasing the specular properties of the object, we can see the depth of the string-like decoration, and the decorative impression to the top of the sample.



Pottery sherd


Syrian pottery sherd


Personal Collection


University of Exeter



Sample Owner

Emma Loosley

File Creator

Gary Stringer


CC-BY Free Culture Licence

Format (1)

Reflectance Transformation Imaging file and associated views.

Format (2)



Pot sherd