Design as a color blind person

SilentPanda

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Oct 8, 2002
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The Bamboo Forest
So I'm color blind. Of course there are varying color blindness types and I'm not 100% sure which one I am... I wrote it down somewhere but anyway that's besides the point...

How do graphic designers deal with this in things such as the Adobe suite? Are there any tips or tricks? I understand colors from a numerical and relational standpoint but I can't actually see some of them as much. Often times if I make an adjustment via cloning or whatnot I will invert the image as sometimes I can tell the inverted colors apart better. Then I fix it with an inverted brush and reinvert the picture.

Mainly my problem is not making things the correct color. I've been known to make peoples skin tones way too green sometimes. Of course it looks fine to me but the consensus is that it's green. I don't have any green friends... :p

I'm by no means a professional designer (I just play one at home for fun) but I was wondering if there were any other color blind designers and if there are any tips and tricks to be used, helpful settings or methods, cheat sheets, etc...
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Jul 4, 2004
21,652
123
I used to work with a colour-blind colleague, although I'm not entirely sure what type and degree of colour-blindness he had.

He'd been in the business for almost 30 years, and by the time we got round to working together, he relied heavily on his Pantone books, having learned which hues were problematic for him, and then memorising their codes and CMYK splits, as well as a large number of combos which were useful workhorses. He knew great swathes of swatch books by heart and how others had guided him over the years, sometimes making notes. Despite his seniority, he was never reticent about asking other colleagues for their opinions, either. He was also a valuable resource when designing for accessibility.

A lot of this came from being immersed in a design and production environment for all that time. Being not colour-blind myself, I'm not sure what you can do for yourself except find similar ways to work around colours that cause problems by taking onboard other's feedback and keeping mental notes of how your vision renders colours, compensating as best as possible.
 

decksnap

macrumors 68040
Apr 11, 2003
3,070
70
Absolutely not helpful, but we used a program called Color Oracle once when we designed a site for a colorblind client. It changes your screen to simulate the three different types of color-blindness.
 

BJMRamage

macrumors 68020
Oct 2, 2007
2,433
860
I'm colorblind!
I'm a graphic designer!

OK, that said...first i learn more about the programs, fonts and quick tips and stuff than anyone else in the office (I have a hurdle, i have to also remain on top of things to keep being "in need" so i think).
Second, I learn my CYMK breakdowns....I don't use PMS too often but will try and remember a few of them as well as converting to CMYK to understand what the color is.

The good thing is, you are not a color designer....being a graphic designer isn't always about colors. It is about placement, hierarchy, achieving harmony in contrast, etc. Colors play a part but being able to design/think without the colors makes your designs "better". Lots of people say a B& W photo is sometime better since you see the image, not just wowed by colors. same issue applies to design. Knowing the idea of design and always looking for more and more design out there, I keep things fresh. there are times when my colors come out wrong. some people at the office know i am colorblind others have no clue. There are even people who have said I can use colors much better than they can. also, get to know (if printing) what colors print correctly. When a co-worker had trouble printing Blue on a digital press, I was easily able to help suggest a color build that would work, as well as telling him to put a few more squares up to test other builds he thought might work....turned out, mine was the winner.

It is a hurdle but one you can work with. Sometimes I will look around, find color themes online and "eyedropper" the colors out of them. not sure any of that helps.

you can ask me more specific questions if need be.
 

SilentPanda

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Oct 8, 2002
9,808
28
The Bamboo Forest
Well I have no (current) aspirations of being a graphic designer. But I bought the Adobe Production Premium CS4 thing a few months back and am finally starting to learn them (PS and AE at the moment) for fun. I went ahead and got a premium Lynda account... good stuff.

Thanks for the above tips and certainly add more if you got em. With a fair amount of the population being color blind I figured there must be some designers that deal with it.

My poor Mac Pro is finally using some of that CPU and RAM I bought a few years back! Especially with AE.
 

johnmadden78

macrumors member
Dec 19, 2008
72
0
Dublin, Ireland
Another colourblind designer here. I don't know the technical term for it, but it's a red/green condition - some reds look like browns, some browns look like greens, some greens look like browns. Over the years I've learned to 'tell' in most cases when I'm seeing something different to the way normal people see it - but it's not an exact science and I don't depend on it.

Generally, it's colour matching I have to be careful of - in this case it's frequent use of the eyedropper tool in Adobe CS and keeping a close eye on CMYK values. I think I'd be doing that anyway, as I was always taught to do it accurately or not at all. I do find I tend towards colour schemes that aren't affected by my condition, but when I have to, I use a colour wheel widget to generate schemes and again, I stick to monitoring CMYK values.
 

Stephen McKay

macrumors newbie
Apr 20, 2011
1
0
Dundee
Aha there are more!

Hello! I am a 3rd year student studying Graphic Design at university, in Dundee Scotland.

I also have red-green colour blindness (technically called...wait for it ...Anomalous trichromacy).

I have had a few problems in the past working with the Adobe collection. Something that I use quite a bit is something called 'Eye Pilot', put your mouse anywhere on the screen and it'll tell you the colour of the pixel and it HEX value.

I am currently about to go into my final year and have a personal project which im doing on colour blindness. I would love to hear if theres any experiences or stories you have from being colour blind.
 

stainlessliquid

macrumors 68000
Sep 22, 2006
1,625
0
If you have no intention on being a professional graphic designer where people tell you what they want then just create things that wont be affected by your colorblindness, like make things you have problems with in black and white or some weird tone. Develop a style that works and use that.
 

ezekielrage_99

macrumors 68040
Oct 12, 2005
3,336
16
I worked with an excellent designer (really one of the best I've worked with) a few years ago who was colourblind unfortunately the agency we were working at fired him for not disclosing him "disability".... I guess I would have been in the same position if I didn't let them know I have Aspergers.

But back to the point, many very productive people out there are very success and in jobs which is could be seen to "limit" there capacity. It's knowing the limitations and understanding the tools that will allow to function.

The best advice I can give you is with most Adobe Suites there is functionality for "colour proofing" for Colour Blindness, in Photoshop it's View > Proof Setting > Colour Blindness (right down the bottom). From my understanding this will be your absolute best tool for "gauging colour".

Also from my understanding there are plugins for Autodesk products for the colourblind as well, not sure though...
 

Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 19, 2002
36,029
3,245
Los Angeles
I'm color blind and I do lots of Photoshop work, including photo touch-up and icon design.

I can manage most of the time using RGB values, or using clone tools, but I know my limitations. When it's necessary I ask someone with regular color vision to help me. The trick is to know when it's necessary.

For example, if I'm brightening up a photo taken in low light, my instinct is to go overboard, so I purposely err on the conservative side unless someone's there to review it. If I change color tints I tend to make caucasians turn greenish, which is how I see them, so I avoid doing that without someone else's help.

I'm obviously not the ideal person for some of these tasks, but the jobs still fall to me since I'm the most skilled one among my coworkers (and my household) with the mechanics of image editing.