This color arrangement test (by Daniel Flück of Colblindor) is a version of the D-15 Farnsworth color test, which asks you arrange colors in a smooth gradation of hues. You may wish to take this test and then return to the rest of this article.

I failed this test. Am I color blind?

Firstly please note that your monitor or digital screen may affect or invalidate results as colours may not be represented exactly as intended. If the test indicates that you have some form of colour deficiency you should seek out a full colour vision diagnostic test from a doctor to verify the results. This color blind test does not always identify those with mild color blindness.

Please read on to find general information about color blindess and what it may mean for an artist or designer.

An overview of color blindness for artists, students and teachers

This means that color blindness is the inability to see certain colors or to distinguish them from other colors. In rare cases, individuals may be unable to see any color at all and may view the world in black, white and grey.

What causes a deficiency in color vision?

In people with normal vision, three types of cone cells exist in the eye, each sensitive to a different set of light wavelengths within the visible light spectrum: long, medium and short wavelengths. Although referred to as the ‘blue’, ‘green’ and ‘red’ cones, each receptor is sensitive to a range of wavelengths and these are stimulated to a different degree, depending on the color of light that is received. The different combinations result in the perception of about a million distinguishable hues. When all of these three cone types are present, a person is able to perceive a continuous range of color, called trichromatic vision.

Color blindness occurs where an unusual combination of retinal cone cells are inherited or where genetic mutation causes one or more of the cone types to be less sensitive than usual. For example, two red or two green cones might be inherited along with blue (rather than red, green and blue cones that are normal). These variations may cause a mild or severe color vision deficiency.

Tetrachromatic vision

A subset of women has been recently discovered to have four types of cones (some hypothesise that these women might usually be the mothers of color blind sons), giving them tetrachromatic vision – the ability to perceive an additional set of wavelengths that normal-vision people are unable to see. The additional cone usually picks up colors in the orange range (or sometimes other types of green) and may allow tetrachromatics to experience 100 million separate hues (99 million more than normal). This ‘super vision’ is only possible for women, as the genes for pigment in green and red cones lie on the X chromosome. This super vision is estimated to occur in between 2-3% of women, but, as with color blindness, is often undiagnosed, as this always been ‘normal’ for them – having existed since birth.

How common is male color blindness?

About 8 percent of the world’s men with Northern European ancestry are estimated to have color deficiency (1 in 12 men). It is common for high school classrooms to have at least one color blind student in the room, although this person may not always realise, or may hide this information from others.