March 29, 2006

Idea: The Ishihara Triptych

The Ishihara Triptych

Remember when you were in third grade and the school nurse gave you that test to see if you’re color blind? The one where she shows you a circle made up of smaller colored circles and asks you what number you see? That test is the Ishihara Test of Color Vision.

I’m fascinated by perception, especially by the uncommon traits that make some people’s perception different than the rest of us — color blindness, tetrachromatism, synesthesia, monocular vision, etc. I also enjoy original art. I decided to combine the two interests by making a triptych out of three Ishihara color vision test plates.

At greater expense than I anticipated, I obtained a set of Ishihara color vision test plates. I picked out three plates that I felt looked good together, and blew them up to a size suitable for framing. The entire finished triptych, seen above, hangs above my bed. I think it makes a compelling piece of art.

It’s titled “57-74-8, or 35-21-3”

Want to make your own? Click each thumbnail below to download a high-res image you can download, print out, and frame.



The jpegs look absolutely beautiful enlarged. I’ve noticed in the past how painterly the Ishihara test images look — brilliant of you to frame em.

Great site, too.

Very interesting idea. You must feel very close to these traits to hang this piece of art above your bed.
I am colorblind (57-??-3) but or because of that I couldn’t hang it over my head.

I like it.

They’d look even cooler if you Rasterbated them… which I think I’m going to do! in case you haven’t seen it before.

I’m fascinated by your capacity to consistently generate interesting and compelling ideas…i suspect you’re a very fun person to be around..probably child-like (in a good way). Most people just aren’t that in touch with themselves to freethink the way you do..


so beautifully duchampian.

Wow, I like. Have never seensuch pictures. Do you know where to find more?

I have some “color plates”—literally, plates painted with still lifes of fruits—signed “Ishihara.” Does anyone know if this is the same Ishihara of the color-blindness test??

It’s titled “57-74-8, or 35-21-3”

OK, I see 57, 74, & 8, but how do you get 35-21-3?

Hey Scott, you asked how do you get 35-21-3?

Well, I downloaded the images, opened them in Photoshop and played with the “Hue/Saturation” tool. (It easily changes the overall color of an image). And I was able to see 35, 31, and 3.

Download the hi-res of each image.
Look at the 57 image (first one).
Within the green dots, there’s a few dark green dots grouped together that help form the number 35. You have to combine certain areas of the pinkish dots with the dark green dots.

Now 74 (second one). This one’s a bit harder. Within the group of red and orange dots is a cluster of tinted red and orange dots. That helps form the “2” in “21”. Now the “1” in “21” is formed with the less vibrant green dots found in the “4” of “74”

I’ll let you try the third one now that I shared some insight into how the hidden numbers work.

I like these - I am colour defficent rather than full colour blind and the number on these change before my eyes as I look at them! The same thing happens on the actual test, I can often see both sets of numbers plus the ones which colour normal people can’t see - and they try and call me blind!

I think one would make a cool clock!