“Second String” by Kenna Barnes


I created “Second String” for my fourth year Capstone
project for Ryerson — essentially a thesis project, involving a
research paper along with a creative component to support the
given research. I wrote my paper on the topic of colour
deficiency, and the proper method of creating accessible
designs for colour deficient audience members. This includes
print, animation, web design, etc. Designs often pose a
visibility issue for these individuals – words get lost in a
map, enemy/ally teams in a video game are impossible to
distinguish, etc.

Through my research, it became clear that the current
methods of creating accessible colour designs (though there
were few) were very complicated and limiting for the artist.
They involved suggestions such as choosing “safe” colours,
which consisted of a very limited palette, or to “imagine what
the colour blind audience sees, and avoid these problem areas.”
 As a colour deficient individual myself, I knew these
methods were ineffective, and their confusing instructions
would not ensure they were used by designers.

Due to this, I created a method that is extremely simple,
effective, and very easy to enforce into practice — focus on
value! The solution to creating colour accessible designs
does not, in fact, have anything to do with colour. It is
extremely difficult to choose only hues that a colour
deficient audience member can see, especially since there is
such a wide range of colour deficiencies. However, if you
ensure that the colours you do choose are visibly different
values, the deficient individuals will be able to perceive a
change in the design, and it will remain readable at all
times.

To demonstrate this theory in my film, I alternate the
value-consious colour palette with the same palette viewed
from the eyes of a red-green deuteranopic deficient
individual – the most common form of colour deficiency.
 As shown, the design is still visible throughout the
film, and the change in colour does not affect the aesthetic
or visibility of the animation. In order to further this
explanation for you, I have also attached a sample I created
of a poorly chosen colour palette, as well as a recoloured
frame using an inaccessible palette, circling the problem
areas within the design.

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