Designing for colour blind people

Ever thought of how a colour blind person perceives the world? I wonder how many graphic designers (especially for functional things like webpages and book illustrations) take colour blindness into account in their design process.

I didn’t know anything about colour blindness until I did some researching last week. Apparently 1 in 12 people has some form of colour blindness and men are more likely to be colour blind than women. A colour blind friend of mine, who is very interested in art history and museums, sometimes speaks about how colour blindness changes the way he looks at art. The thought that he sees the art differently than most people, including the original creator, feels very frustrating.

Especially flat design (which is very in style at the moment) can be problematic for people with color blindness. Flat design consists of stylized vector images without any line-art. If you are colour blind, flat design can be a problem since there’s no border between two colours. Shapes that are clearly separate for people with perfect colour vision might be merged in the eyes of a person with colour blindness.
As a small test, I’ve taken one of my one flat designs and put it in the colour blindness simulator over at The left image is the ‘normal’ image, the right image is the image as seen by someone with ‘deuteranopia’ (red-green colour blindness):

colorblindness-birds-normal colorblindness-birds-deuteranopia

If you want to test yourself for colour blindness, you can do an Ishihara color blindness test at as well.

Now I’m wondering: how can we make graphic design better, also taking into account that 1 in 12 (or: 11 in 12, if the designer is colour blind!) people might not perceive the things we make the same way as we do?

How to learn to use Adobe Illustrator

Today, I want to give you some tips and tricks for when you want to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator. I’ve been using Illustrator for two years now. In the beginning, I really struggled with the pen tool and the fact that the program is so different from Photoshop! I hope I can help some of you by sharing how I started out using Illustrator.

Adobe Illustrator is not Adobe Photoshop.

Forget everything you think you know about Illustrator since you know Photoshop. You’ll thank me later.

Gather some resources

Surf the internet. You can find many tutorials online that deal with illustrator, the pen tool and all other stuff you need to know to craft basic vector images. Some tutorials cover one tool, other are step-by-step explanations of the process of a particular image. There’s even a game for learning the pen tool!

Some resources I used to learn Illustrator:
Illustrator shapes tutorial by milkbun
Tutorial part 1: The basics of illustrator by modernreligion
Tutorial part 2: The basics of vectoring by modernreligion
Illustrator tutorial: gear wheel by surgio
The b├ęzier game

Get your hands dirty.

You learn fastest by doing. Reading tutorials is fine, but step-by-step going through all the actions in a tutorial is better. As an example, here’s the first thing I created in Adobe Illustrator by following this tutorial by Milkbun.

Web Continue reading How to learn to use Adobe Illustrator

The exposition in library Hatert is here!

And finally, my first exposition is a fact. I had lots of fun last friday filling a huge glass cabinet with my children’s book illustrations and lots of cute props!
Here are some photos of the result:
exposition childrens book illustrations hatert
The library asked me to fill a huge 2 by 2 glass cabinet near the entrance.

2015-04 exposition judith van stegeren library hatert nijmegen
I even reprinted some of my older work — I used to draw childrens book illustrations when I was still in high school. The little black sheep is a recurring character. Recently, I discovered the animations of Shawn the Sheep and I realised how much they look alike!

2015-04 exposition judith van stegeren library hatert nijmegen
“De Raaf en de Vos” (The Fox and the Raven) is still one of my favorites. I think it really looks good as this glossy A2 poster! I translated the poem (the original is in french) to Dutch prose, so that children who don’t know the story can read it in the library.

2015-04 exposition judith van stegeren library hatert nijmegen
The penguins! I love the penguins. I have friend who dreams of becoming a professor. He loves penguins, so I made him this poster years ago. Now I could borrow his collection of stuffed penguins for the exposition. Another friend loaned me his Lego model of the Mars Rover Curiosity (which is very, very cool. I cannot stress this enough. Lego & science = awesome!)

2015-04 exposition judith van stegeren library hatert nijmegen
My sister picked up the stuffed hedgehog for me so I could recreate the “for science!” t-shirt design with stuffed animals and a real Erlenmeyer flask. Thanks, sis!

If you want to take a look at the exposition in real life, you can find it here:
Bibliotheek Hatert
Couwenbergstraat 20
6535RZ Nijmegen (The Netherlands)

The library is open on the following days:
monday: 13:00 – 17:00
wednesday: 11:00 – 17:00
thursday: 13:00 – 17:00
friday: 13:00 – 17:00

Preparing an exposition 2

I’m organising an exposition in the local library. Here’s an update on my progress.
Yesterday I went to the citycentre and bought a huge folder for transporting the printed illustrations for the exposition. The folder is large enough for A2 poster prints (75 cm x 53 cm) and it even has a handle so I can take it with me on my bike — although I must say that cycling with the folder gave me the impression I was kite-surfing through the streets of Nijmegen.
Next, I visited the printer and had all the smaller prints (A3 and A4) printed on beautiful glossy card stock! The two larger A2 posters I already printed on the A0 poster printer at the university.

my new art folder filled with the illustrations for the exposition

8 vinyl album covers I would like to decorate my living room with

I don’t own a record player, but I collect vinyl nonetheless. Some people think that weird, but look at all these beautiful album covers! I would gladly own all of them, but as of this moment, I only own Our Endless Numbered Days by Iron & Wine. I’m saving money for a copy of Brasshopper by the Broken Brass Ensemble, which I hope to buy next month.

Do you have a favorite album? Which albums have great cover art? Let me know in the comments!

Iron & Wine, Our Endless Numbered Days
Iron & Wine – Our Endless Numbered Days (singer-songwriter, folk)

Muse, the resistance
Muse – The Resistance (progressive rock)
Continue reading 8 vinyl album covers I would like to decorate my living room with

Preparing an exposition in the library of Nijmegen

I’m so excited! My first exposition is coming up. If you are in the neighbourhood, you can visit an exposition of my children’s book illustrations in the local library, Bibliotheek Hatert, from next week onwards. Last week I’ve been busy collecting all kinds of props (mostly stuffed animals) and getting my artwork ready for the printer.

Here’s a sneak preview:
Stuffed animals for the exposition of my children's book illustrations

Owl and branch with blossoms

work in progress - painting the owl and a branch with blossoms

Last month I was asked to lighten up Abel & Hanne’s appartment by making a painting on one of their white closets. Together with my good friend Annelies, I made this painting of an owl on a branch with blossoms. When all the hard work was done, we had some beers, a nice dinner and a coconut-cheesecake. It was definitely a good day!
Abel made some nice photo’s of the work in progress.

Here is a photo of the result:

the result - painting the owl and a branch with blossoms

Materials: pencil, acrylics, permanent marker