Are you a “superchromat”?

Sometimes I read nail polish blogs and I think to myself, how is it possible that companies are able to come up with colour after colour every season? Surely there are finite colours and after all, a red is a red is a red. Maybe that explains the recent deluge of special texture nail polishes. When the colours run out, start selling crackles, denim textures and caviar polishes.

This question was answered recently when I read a fantasy novel by Brent Weeks called The Black Prism. It was Book 1 of the Lightbringer Series and featured a very interesting magic system, in which the mages of the books were able to transform light and expel it as a physical substance, say a ball of fire. Different people can draft different colours. Some can only draw blue. Others can draw red or yellow or purple, or even colours not visible to human eyes, such as ultraviolet. 

Amongst them were special people called superchromats (a made up word by the author) who can see the minute changes in shades between what most people would assume are the same colour. Now in this book, most superchromats were women, which is a parallel to how it works in the real world as well – women are indeed more sensitive to colour than men!

In fact, some scientists believe that there are humans with superhuman vision who can see hues of colour on the spectrum that others cannot – they are known as tetrachromats. According to this article, “Researchers suspect, though, that some people see even more. Living among us are people with four cones, who might experience a range of colors invisible to the rest. It’s possible these so-called tetrachromats see a hundred million colors, with each familiar hue fracturing into a hundred more subtle shades for which there are no names, no paint swatches.”

That is incredible, don’t you think? Can you imagine these people working in nail polish companies and arguing that this shade of pink is different is different from that shade of pink, and the marketing manager going, “We can’t sell that! They look the same to me!”

To see if I have the colour vision to work for OPI or China Glaze, I took this test: How well do you see colour?

ImageThe idea is to arrange the colours in order from lightest to darkest. At the end you get a score between 0 and 99. The closer to 0 you are, the higher your colour acuity.

Image Here’s what I did.

ImageScore of 4! Well, I bloody better be getting low scores considering I blog about colours!

What is your score? And have you read the amazing Brent Week books?