Thursday, August 11, 2005

A case study

http://www.optometrists.asn.au/ceo/backissues/vol85/no5/659

The above link is a page from Clinical and Experimental Optometry, an online medical journal, which features an abstract of a case study titled, "An artist with extreme deuteranomaly." At the bottom of that page is a link to download the complete text of the case study as a PDF document.

The case study offers some historical information about colorblind artists and then describes one oil painter's color deficiency and his way of coping with it (in a nutshell, he limits his pallet). The study refers to a few different colorblindness tests that provide for a very specific diagnosis and ends with a funny statistic:

In a study of high school boys it was found that the colorblind kids fared worse than their normal-vision peers in every academic subject but one: art.

I have one colorblind relative, my Great Uncle Bob. I always felt a special bond to him because of our little embarrassing disability (and he used to share magic tricks with me). One time he said, "It's really not a problem at all--just don't become an artist." Hmm... I'd like to show him this study.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

How do you use color theory to make decisions?

A number of you in your comments say that color theory is crucial to making decisions and avoiding mistakes. Would you be able/willing to give specific examples of your thinking?

(No need to explain color theory--let's assume a basic knowledge of the color wheel, complements, common color schemes, muting, etc., and beginners like me can ask for clarification if we need it.)

It would help me to see how one specifically makes use of theory to work around his color vision problems.

Also, if there are particular books, Web sites or other resources you've found useful on this topic, please recommend!

How do you use Color Quest?

Color Quest is a shareware utility for Mac users (see link to "Tool for Mac Users" at right) that names the color of any pixel you point to onscreen. My initial excitement about finding the program was tempered by the following:

1) the menus are mostly in Japanese,

2) the names of colors--"deep red," "dull yellowish green," etc.--aren't clear to me, and

3) it can misidentify colors--brown as "dark orange," which makes sense, but also, on one occasion, a forest green as "dark yellow."

To help solve the foreign menu issue, here is a translation of the menu items, thanks to a Japanese friend:

Across the top, the menus are: FILE, EDIT, TOOL and MODE.

Under FILE, the options are: CLOSE, PAUSE, HIDE GUIDE and GUIDE COLOR.

Under EDIT, the options are: COPY, PASTE, SELECT ALL, COPY COLOR NAME, COPY IMAGE and SETUP... (which offers the same choices as the MODE menu).

Under TOOLS, the options are: CREATE COLOR, TEST COLOR COMBINATION, GRAYSCALE, B/W and three COLORBLIND LEVELS.

Under MODE, the options are: NORMAL, LOUPE, FLOATING and MINIMIZE.

The MODE options control the appearance of the Color Quest window; the options in other menus are unclear to me, so helpful comments (or a link to online English documentation) would be appreciated!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

How do colorblind artists avoid making mistakes?

Here's the big question. My sense, from a few conversations and emails, is that colorblind artists do one or more of the following:

1) Work in black and white or monochromatic color schemes. Can an artist or illustrator make a career of this?

2) Limit their pallet to colors they can distinguish.

3) Ask other people (particularly wives) if anything looks off.

4) Use color theory or a set of basic guidelines to make reasonable choices. Here's a place I could really use input from experienced artists. Once in a while my teacher drops some general tip ("The shadow on the underside of the nose is typically warm, because it's receiving reflected light." or "It's better to err on the side of making shadows too warm on the figure to avoid making your subject look dead.")--I collect those tips like like pearls, but they seem to come randomly. It would be helpful to compile a list.

5) Use software that allows them to identify or choose colors more easily. I've posted links to color identifiers for Macs and PC's, but the Mac one (Color Quest) is mostly in Japanese and isn't always accurate (according to my normal-vision friends). It ID's colors in English, but the names aren't clear ("dull red", "deep purplish gray"). Also, part of the problem is that it identifies one pixel at a time, and neighboring pixels may be different.