know your dna logo
search iconmenu Icon

What is DNA Painter?

Updated on October 17, 2021
Written by
Emjay B
6 sources cited
KnowYourDNA is reader-supported. This means we may receive a commission when you buy something from one of the links on this page.

DNA Painter makes interpreting DNA results easy. It was developed by Jonny Perl, a UK-based genealogist, DNA enthusiast, and web developer.

It is an award-winning software that allows the user to:

  • Visualize their direct ancestry line
  • Map DNA segments to ancestors
  • Ascertain how they are related to a DNA match
  • Identify unknown ancestors using matches

Introduction to DNA Painter

DNA Painter is a tool used for chromosome mapping or DNA painting. It simplifies DNA results in a visual manner, providing a visual picture of a user's ancestry.

It is NOT a genetic test. It reads segmented data that are then turned into a visual relationship chart of all of the user’s relatives.

Raw DNA data may be obtained from genetic testing kits supplied by various companies, such as:

  • 23andMe
  • FamilyTreeDNA
  • MyHeritage
  • Gedmatch
  • LivingDNA
  • Ancestry

According to its website, DNA Painter does not endorse nor is it affiliated with any DNA testing company.

Where is DNA Painter Used?

Interpreting the results of an autosomal DNA test can be challenging. DNA Painter makes this easier by providing a platform where the user can:

  • Thoroughly assess what they already know about their ancestry by importing or building a family tree.
  • Make use of DNA matches to determine relationships with the use of interactive tools.
  • Utilize chromosome mapping to envision actual DNA segments shared with other matches and determine inheritance from other ancestors found in a user’s tree.

Family history enthusiasts and genealogists mostly use DNA Painter. 

How does DNA Painter Work?

DNA Painter allows a user to “paint” individual DNA segments, differentiating maternal and paternal copies of a specific chromosome.

Once a particular segment has been painted, the user can easily see matches from maternal or paternal sides. If the match is on the same chromosome and in the exact location, it means that the user is related to that match via the same family line.

How to Get Started on DNA Painter

Here are a few simple steps on how to create your DNA Painter account:

  1. Register by going to their website. 
  2. Fill out the registration box with your name, email address, preferred username, and your password.

What is DNA Painter? 1

  1. They will send you an email with a link to activate your account.

What is DNA Painter? 2

  1. Verify your account. Once verification is successful, you will be asked to log in.
  2. After logging in, you will be taken to the DNA Painter Dashboard.

What is DNA Painter? 3

  1. Depending on what you want to do, you can create an Ancestral Tree or do a Chromosome Map.

The DNA Painter interface is very intuitive and easy to understand and navigate. If you're new to chromosome mapping, there's a How-to video that can help.

What is DNA Painter? 4

DNA Painter Tools

At the top of the DNA Painter dashboard, there are three tools available to the user. This allows DNA visualization in a number of ways. These include:

Family Tree Fan Chart

Using a Family Tree Fan Chart, users can visualize their family tree. This can be done by:

  • Manual data entry
  • Uploading a GEDCOM file obtained from another family tree service

Users can customize colors for easy labeling and tracking. Preset colors are also available.

Shared cM Project Tool

A user simply has to input a DNA length (in centimorgans) that they share with their matches from other sites. Using these data, DNA Painter can make a family tree. 

Using a shared cM tool, users can:

  • Refine their family tree
  • Identify relationships that aren’t genetically possible
  • Find common ancestors shared with matches 

Chromosome Mapping

Chromosome Mapping allows users to view their chromosomes using a color-coded chart. This chart shows whether a segment came from the maternal or paternal side. 

Using chromosome mapping, users can:

  • See where their specific traits like hair color, eye color, or mental ability originated
  • Perform genetic genealogy research on both maternal and paternal lineages

DNA Painter Costs

DNA Painter’s basic features are free to use. A free account allows a user to:

  • Review one profile
  • Create one family tree up to the fourth great grandparents

For users who wish to explore their family history further, getting a subscription is the best way to go. A subscription allows a user to:

  • Make up to 50 profiles
  • Create a family tree with unlimited generations
  • Create and test unlimited family trees
  • Do bulk uploads of information 

Subscription prices are as follows:

  • $30 for six months
  • $55 for an entire year 

Accepted payment options include:

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • Discover
  • Diners Club International
  • Paypal

DNA Painter Privacy

DNA Painter places high regard on a user's privacy. Their privacy policy outlines data collection and use, as well as their communication and disclosure principals.

The highlights of their privacy policy are:

  • A user's name is needed to register an account. However, users have the option not to use their real names.
  • A genuine email address is needed for account verification.
  • Profiles are private by default and can only be viewed by other people when the user decides to make them visible to others.
  • DNA Painter does not store raw DNA data.
  • The IP address is stored.

DNA Painter assures its users that they do not sell user data to third parties. All server communications are encrypted via HTTPS/SSL.

DNA Painter Pros and Cons

Using DNA Painter offers pros and cons to the user. These include:

Pros

  • Provides the user with a unique visual tool to easily understand DNA data obtained from other sites
  • Provides the user with the ability to generate and test their own theories about their ancestry
  • It can be used with many different kinds of DNA tests

Cons

  • Presence of a steep learning curve for first-time users
  • User interface and terms can be confusing at first
  • Works best with DNA test results of several known relatives

DNA Painter Review: Is It Worth It?

DNA Painter is a tool that isn't meant for everyone. However, genealogists, DNA enthusiasts, and those who wish to dig deeper into their ancestry can benefit from using DNA Painter's software.

Those who want to "look around" can do so with a free account. There is no need to jump into a subscription right away. However, with 6-month or 12-month options, subscriptions don't force users to stick around for a long time.

DNA Painter is an excellent tool for those wanting to know more about their ancestry. 

Resources

SHOW
HIDE
  1. Jonny Perl. "An Introduction to DNA Painter." 
  2. Blaine Bettinger. "Mapping Your Chromosomes with DNAPainter."
  3. "Site FAQ." DNA Painter.
  4. Privacy Policy.” DNA Painter.
  5. "DNA Painter." International Society of Genetic Genealogy.
  6. "DNA Painter Syllabus 2020." Silicon Valley Computer Genealogy Group
Emjay B
Content Contributor
Emjay is a content writer for Know Your DNA. As a Physical Therapist and a registered nurse, she has extensive medical knowledge and hands-on experience in patient care. After getting her nursing license, she pursued full-time writing focused on healthcare.
back to top