Category Archives: Pics

Was Vincent Van Gogh Colorblind?

The Hokkaido Color Universal Design Organization has a “Color Vision Experience Room” which filters out parts of the light to give you the impression of how colorblind people see the world. In this room Kazunori Asada spotted some paintings from Vincent Van Gogh and from there on the idea arose to make some tests, if Van Gogh might have had some form of color vision defiency.

Earlier on Kazunori Asada already developed a tool to simulate different forms of color vision defiency. With the help of this tool he was interested to see, if the impression of some paintings of Van Gogh will change, if they were run through the program.

In his article The Day I Saw Van Gogh’s Genius in a New Light he covers the following:

One of my friends who has protanomal color vision, a designer and painter, said this to me:

“It’s wonderful, isn’t it? We color deficient people, actually better than color normal people, understand van Gogh’s true nature and appreciate he is the genius of geniuses. In our opinion, van Gogh surely had color vision deficiency. Therefore, color deficient people can better understand his pictures.”

I considered this. After returning home, I viewed van Gogh’s works using the “Chromatic Vision Simulator” software which I had developed. However, the images simply lost their color and the sublime impression I got in the “Color Vision Experience Room” was missing.

Then it occurred to me to ask – Is my friend partially color vision deficient (anomalous trichromat)? Perhaps using a strong color vision deficiency (dichromat) simulation was the wrong approach. How about carrying out the simulation by removing only a specific portion of normal color vision, maybe then I could see van Gogh’s works in that light?

Hereafter two simulations of Van Gogh’s paintings. On the left side you’ll see the original, on the right side the protanomal simulation (also called red-weakness):

Van Gogh - Flowering Garden - Normal Van Gogh - Flowering Garden - Protanomal
Van Gogh - Starry Night - Normal Van Gogh - Starry Night - Protanomal

As I am also strongly red-blind I can’t see any difference in the paintings. Looking at them makes me think, that they look completely normal and I don’t see any very strange color arrangements in the paintings.

You can read the whole article of Kazunori Asada at: The Day I Saw Van Gogh’s Genius in a New Light. This article also includes some more paintings with their corresponding color vision deficient simulation.

Ishihara Plates on Your Fingernails

The colorful Ishihara plates are the most well known color blindness test of the world. They consist of a pattern of colored dots and hide a number or image for any colorblind observer.

On the other hand we can see more and more artwork on fingernails. There are contests held on diverse topics. One of them was about the dotting tool, a special tool which can be used to paint dots on your nails.

On of the contributors decided to use the dotting tool to create some Ishihara Fingernails….

Ishihara on Finger Nails

Personally I couldn’t imagine the create such a fine artwork. And to know, that it will be gone after some days, is even more impressive. Thanks for sharing this cool work and if you like, you can find a lot more of those artworks at Goose’s Glitter.

Ishihara – Short Film – All in Dots

Unfortunately this video is now password protected and only visible for a private audience. Sorry and what a petty!

All I can say: Amazing! Yoav Brill created this short film back in 2010 as his graduation film at Bezalel, the Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem.

The story is half-autobiographical. I am a color blind, and so are two of of my brothers, so the film is based both on my and their experiences, with additional dramatization of course. I’ve also held a couple of interviews with color-blind people as a research.

You can find the original post of the film on the video platform vimeo—including the original hebrew version of it. And there is also a short interview with Yoav at: In Animated Film Ishihara, an Exploration of Color Blindness, All in Dots.

I definitely would like to see more of this. Just to make the world know about color blindness and how colorblind people might feel like. And of course to enjoy beautiful animated short films!

Subway Maps for Colorblind People

Paul Wynne, an occasional colorblind underground user of the London subway, says

What is a straightforward glimpse at a map for most travellers there, is a nightmare of trying to separate similar colours for me,…

This topic is not new to colorblind people. Also in 2007 a group of Norwegian Students thought about Improving the Readability of Public Transport Maps for Colorblind Travelers. Subway Maps in general are definitely not an easy thing to decipher for peoply with any form of color vision deficiency.

Because of that Paul decided to design a new kind of map, which enhances the color information of each subway line with an additional unique pattern. This way it should be possible for any type of colorblind person to read the map easily.

Colorblind London Subway Map

The combination of color and the idea of the scattered pattern supports the readability extremely. For me as a strongly red-blind person, it is much easier to spot the correct line and to find my way around the map. In opposite to most other pattern ideas, which highlight the pattern very prominently, this patterns are just a subtle support for the colors. And because of that, the pattern enhanced colored lines are not only easy to match but also don’t disturb the map as a whole.

In 2006 there was also the decision by Japan’s Public Facilities Making Life Easier for Colorblind People. When we look at Tokyo’s subway map now, we can also see some improvement in the readability.

Colorblind Tokyo Subway Map

In this case the designers went along a different path. They decided to use letters to identify the different lines uniquely. A combination of the line letter and the station number enhances the readability and makes it much easier to find your way around the map. This is definitely an improvement to the old version. But on the other side I personally think that the letters are also a little bit confusing and the map gets to crowded with all the information.

What do you think about the different subway maps for colorblind people from London and Tokyo? Do you think this could be a possibilty to enhance any kind of colored maps? Which color, pattern combination do you think is the most effective one for colorblind users?

You can find the London map of Paul including some further information at: A Map of the London Underground for Colourblind People.

Camouflage Test for (Non)-Colorblind People

Many people heared about the colorblind army men, who were chosen specifically to spot camouflage. There was a short report in the Time Magazine in the 1940’s about those Color-Blind Observers for National Defense. But is it really true, that colorblind people can spot some patterns better than people with a broader color vision?

Unfortunately since this report there was no further evidence, that any form of color vision deficiency might improve under certain circumstances the ability to spot anything which is camouflaged.

I’m sorry, but this test is no longer available online. The only picture I could preserve is the one below. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Now Daniel, a 5th grade student of Rockland County, colorblind himself, developed a little test to evaluate the relationship between color blindness and camouflage. Have a look at the example picture below. How long did it take to spot the animal on the picture? Or can’t you spot it at all?

Color Blind SIT Experiment

The test developed by Daniel includes 24 of such images. He collects data about how many of them you can spot and how long it takes. It would be great to see some more people—colorblind or not—taking this little camouflage and color blindness test.

Hope you like the test. Share your thoughts and ideas. And I hope we will see some results of it in the future.

What is it Like to be Color Blind

Laura Evans created a nice and short documentary film to show what it’s like to be colorblind. While interviewing a colorblind artist she gives us a nice overview of how it feels, some thoughts on what the term color means and how important colors really are if you are suffering from color blindness. “No such thing as color” includes some nice details to give you an insight on how it might feel to be colorblind.

There is only one thing which I don’t really understand: She starts with letting the guy name the coloring of some houses in the neighbourhood. For me as a strongly red-blind person the guy in the film does a perfect job on this task…. but watch yourself :-)

You also might like to visit Laura’s website at

Can You Spot the Red Berries?

Richard, a friend of mine from Great Britain, took this very nice winter picture which he sent to me. He was outside to catch the fresh snow on the trees. And well, he didn’t really realize what different colors he caught on the picture as he is also colorblind.

Picture taken by Richard Healy

Only when somebody told him, he was able to spot the red berries!

Can you see the red berries on the tree or not? — You could also use this beautiful winter shot as a simple color blindness test. I’m red-blind and definitely can’t see them.