Family Finder myOrigins Chromosome Painter

We are excited to introduce Chromosome Painting – a new Family Finder feature that helps you explore your Family Finder myOrigins results in a new way!

The Chromosome Painter release follows our recent updates to Family Finder matching and our expansion to 90 reference populations with myOrigins 3.0. Chromosome Painting is another step in a series of improvements to our genealogy products.

Examples of Chromosome Paintings

 What is a Chromosome Painting?

While myOrigins has always shown your ancestry percentages from different populations around the world,  Chromosome Painting visualizes which segments of your DNA come from each population. 

You inherit 50% of your DNA from each of your parents, they inherited 50% of their DNA from each of their parents, and so on.  Does this mean that you’ll have inherited 25% of each grandparent’s population percentages? Not exactly. Autosomal DNA is inherited through random recombination. This means that you don’t receive a perfect quarter of each grandparent’s origin percentages.

When autosomal DNA is passed down from each parent, their two DNA copies are shuffled together, and you receive a randomized selection of DNA from each grandparent. The same happened when your parents received their DNA from their parents, and your grandparents from their parents, and so on, which means unless all of your ancestors are from the same population, you might not inherit DNA for a specific reference population that is part of your ancestry.

Chromosome Painting allows you to visualize which segments of your DNA you inherited from each of those ancestors by breaking down your myOrigins populations by each segment of each chromosome.

Let’s look at an example:

In the example above, all four of the grandparents have ancestry from different distinct populations. You can see how each of the three children inherited a random mixture of ancestry from their grandparents. Although the three siblings have similar ancestry percentages overall, they inherited quite different ancestry at each segment.

Super Populations

myOrigins estimates your ancestry from as many as 90 different population clusters. However, this level of specificity is only afforded by using a large number of genetic markers from your entire genome. The Chromosome Painting must paint small DNA segments with very few markers, so to maintain accuracy, we must sacrifice some population specificity. That is why we group the 90 populations into 34 Super Populations, based on genetic similarity, and display these Super Populations in the Chromosome Painting.

How can this benefit your genetic genealogy research?

If you have one or more grandparents or more distant ancestors with significantly different ancestry from the others, this tool can help you pinpoint the segments that you inherited from them. You can compare those segments to your matches and find out which relatives share the same ancestry.

Examples of Chromosome Paintings

Accessing The Chromosome Painter on FamilyTreeDNA

To access the Chromosome Painter, go to and sign in to access the feature.


The chromosome painter is available to anyone with Family Finder, including autosomal DNA transfers who unlocked Family Finder. 

Don’t have Family Finder?

Kit Owners: Sign in to your “kit,” go to Add Ons & Upgrades, and select Family Finder. No need to re-swab, as we’ll process your stored sample.

TIP: FamilyTreeDNA kit owners that have previously tested with Ancestry, 23andme, or MyHeritage can upload their genetic data and get autosomal DNA matches for FREE. To access all Family Finder features, including the Chromosome Painter, you can unlock Family Finder for just $19. To upload your genetic data, sign in to your FamilyTreeDNA kit, go to Add Ons & Upgrades and scroll down to Autosomal DNA Transfer. For more information on acceptable file versions, please visit our help center. 

New Customers: New to FamilyTreeDNA and don’t have a kit to sign in to? Order your Family Finder test today, and we’ll ship you a DNA collection kit.

TIP: Previously tested with Ancestry, 23andme, or MyHeritage, but you are a new FamilyTreeDNA customer? Create an account and upload your genetic data file today to get FREE access to your autosomal DNA matches. You can unlock Family Finder and its features, including the Chromosome Painter, for just $19.

Take a deeper dive into the Chromosome Painter

The Help Center has the full list of Continental Regions, Super Populations, and Population Clusters.

To learn more about the science behind myOrigins and the Chromosome Painter, check out FamilyTreeDNA’s myOrigins 3.0 White Paper. Also, be sure to check out our three-part video series on myOrigins 3.0.