Sunday, September 11, 2016

The eyes have it

Photo 1 - in process

Life as a color blind painter

Being color blind is a strange thing. While it isn't a full disability, it has prevented me from pursuing certain careers of interest in the past since it is an automatic disqualifier. Now, I don't think of colorblindness as anything other than it is a part of me and definitely not a disability. So long ago (about 25 years ago), I started playing Dungeons and Dragons with some friends and as part of that we decided to paint up some miniatures for our games. Sure everyone does that, but as I now know, there are specific items that I did differently from others.

Sure the materials we were using were crap. We used Tester model paints, whatever brushes we could find, and low quality miniatures. As time went on, we discovered better paints, brushes, and miniatures and slowly self-taught ourselves some minor skills. One thing that I always had to do, was to ask about the colors. I remember having concepts in my head about colors, but would (and at times still do) have to ask someone to identify the colors and help me match some of those to the concepts I had.

Photo 1 - in process (B&W)
As I have learned now, I have protan color blindness and as a result have difficulty with red-green differentiation. I'm not going to go into all of the details of colorblindness, but if you would like to learn more then you can see the color blindness Wikipedia page. This also means that I have difficulty with blues and purples and other things, all pretty helpful when you want to translate reality onto a painted miniature. Now add to that issue that I have no formal training and here I am.

So what is there to help if you are color blind. Well one great tool that I have is a color wheel. I picked up from Ironheart Artisans when I went to AdeptiCon a couple of years ago. This is great because it provides for determining complementary colors and opposing colors, but also helps identify the colors of shadows and highlights.

Photo 2 - revised in-process
The next really helpful things has been the ColourWise Facebook group. This was started by Shoshie Bauer and Morgan Brebner and has brought cohort of color blind miniature painters with non-color blind painters together. It has been a great resource for sharing miniatures, getting feedback, and sharing techniques.

This takes me to why I am writing this post. I am working on the Reaper Bones Cloud Giantess ($6.99), which was sculpted by the great Patrick Keith of Bombshell Miniatures, right now and though I didn't get it done in time for the quarterly painting contest, it is helping me push to do something new post-NOVA Open. I have included some images that come from the work I am doing and though when it is done will share a better set of images and write-up, these are helpful to discuss. One of the issues with being color blind, which I have just really learned is that contrast is a significant issue. This is because color blind people see less contrast. As a result the models we produce are missing contrast.

Photo 2 - revised in-process (B&W)
One tool that the group shared with me is to use a black and white photo to see the contrast as a proxy and then develop the shadows and highlights. I've included four images within this post. Two color images and then two black and white versions of the same images. Now, the level of contrast is something that I regularly think about and was actively working to make the contrast match what normal color seeing people would do, but even after all of that work it is apparent in the first photo that I was not able to achieve that. Thankfully the group took a look and provided the great black and white photo trick. From that I was able to deepen the shadows to provide some additional contrast and brighten the highlights to do the same. Now it isn't finished yet, but is getting very close and will be ready for the next post.