I have lots of friends who are artists, and recently one of them asked me for tips on creating art for visually impaired friends. This friend has normal sight, but was interested in creating a piece of digital artwork for another friend with low vision as a birthday present. I was happy to provide my opinions on how to create art for a low vision audience, so I asked my friend if it would be okay to post these tips. They agreed, so today I will be sharing tips for creating art for visually impaired friends. This will focus on amateur art that my friends create, with no distinction on whether the artist is visually impaired or not.
Use vivid, high-contrast colors
My favorite artwork in museums often feature vivid, high-contrast colors and patterns that can easily be distinguished. When a high school friend was creating drawings for several people in our friend group, they specifically chose to use contrasting, bright colors with bold lines for my drawing, so I could easily distinguish different details. I can’t recommend any specific color scheme to use for drawings, but muted colors may be more difficult to see.
- Colored Paper and the Readability of Text
- How To Create High Resolution Images For Users With Low Vision
Art tools/mediums that are great for visual impairment
Some examples of art tools/mediums that my friends have used to create art that I can easily see with visual impairment include:
- Thick pens
- Acrylic paint
- Digital art
Art tools/mediums that are less great for visual impairment
While every visual impairment is different, these art tools/mediums may be more difficult for people with visual impairment to see:
- Pencils (including colored pencils)
- Pastels (unless they are on a contrasting background)
- Grayscale drawings
What size should my art be?
Having a larger sized canvas doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be easier to see a particular work of art. I personally prefer to be able to hold the canvas or artwork in my hand so I can adjust the positioning as needed to see the details. Having the smaller size means I can also easily scan it into an app like Microsoft Office Lens so I can have a high-resolution scan and look at the different details with ease. Alternatively, I can put 3D art underneath my HP Sprout computer and scan it as a 3D model.
Considerations for digital art
One of my good friends is an awesome digital artist who creates lots of glitch-style art with bright colors. They told me that they would purposely show me art they created that they knew I would be able to see, and had a few design considerations for creating art I could see. Here are some of the considerations for digital art that they use:
- Use the largest possible image quality so that it’s easy to zoom in on details.
- Try to use opaque colors whenever possible, as these will stick out more on adapted display settings such as inverted screen.
- If colorblindness is a concern, use a colorblindness simulator to see how your art will look with different types of colorblindness.
- When posting art online, add image descriptions and alt text
- For animations or GIFs, try to avoid rapidly flashing or strobing effects, as this can be disorienting for people with photosensitivity.
- How To Check Videos For Flashing Light Sensitivities
- How To Describe Flowers for the Blind and Visually Impaired
- How To Write Alt Text For Digital Comics
- How To Write Alt Text For Memes
For a fun touch, incorporate texture
One of the people in my high school anime club would frequently incorporate texture into art by adding sequins, raised dots, and other tactile details to their drawings. I thought this was a really cool touch, and a different friend mentioned that this would be a cool way to create art for friends with no usable vision. There are many ways to incorporate tactile elements into art from everyday objects, but I recommend making sure that the art medium will not fade or rub off with prolonged touch.
- How To Create Tactile Images With Everyday Objects
- How To Modify Anatomy Diagrams For The Visually Impaired
Don’t be afraid to talk about your art
When showing me something they created, my friends frequently write out image descriptions or talk to me about what I am looking at so that I can appreciate their art even more. For example, one of my friends drew me a picture of our high school mascot wearing a graduation cap and holding a diploma for our graduation, and it wasn’t until they pointed out those other details that I noticed how cool the drawing really looked. The same thing happened when a different friend showed me a picture of a dragon they had drawn, and went over all of the different details including the scales and colors. Don’t be afraid to talk to your visually impaired friends about your art- I’m sure they would love to hear all about it!
- Visiting The Met With Visual Impairment
- Visiting The Museum of Modern Art With Vision Impairment
- Visiting the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum
I’m fortunate to have lots of artistic friends that enjoy creating art and sharing it with me. Over the years, I have collected lots of awesome art that was created by dear friends, and it’s fun to display this art in my room or in a special folder on my computer. I hope this post is helpful and provides great tips for creating art for visually impaired friends!
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