Translucent: Definition & Examples

Translucent: Definition & Examples
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Swoboda
In this lesson, we'll explore the meaning of the term translucent and discuss the properties of translucent materials and when and why using translucent materials may be desirable.

What Makes a Material Translucent?

Have you ever gazed through a stained glass window on a sunny day or watched the suns' rays penetrate a frosty pane on a cold winter morning? If so, you have witnessed translucency. To say that a material is translucent is to say that light may pass through that material, but images on the other side of that material are not clearly visible. Translucent materials allow us to focus our attention on the quality of the light that passes through them, rather than being focused on the imagery that is on the other side.

Is Translucency the Same as Transparency?

You may have heard the terms translucency and transparency used interchangeably. The terms are, in fact, describing different manners in which light and images are viewed through specific materials. To say that a material is transparent is to say that light passes through a material, and images on the other side of that material can be seen clearly as they truly appear. A good example of this would be looking through a clear, clean window; objects on the other side would be clearly and accurately visible.

Examples of Translucent Materials

A frosty window pane and a stained glass window are good examples of translucent materials, as light can penetrate them, but items cannot be seen clearly through them. Other examples of translucent materials could include items like sheer fabrics, such as muslin or gauze, colored liquid in a glass, oiled paper, colored syrup, tinted plastics, and certain types of stone or mineral. There are also translucent pigments for painting and glazing ceramics.

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