AncestryDNA Chromosome Painter | Dig Deeper into DNA Ethnicity

Kelli Jo Bergheimer

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Have you explored the AncestryDNA chromosome painter? This exciting new interactive feature, companion to their Ethnicity Inheritance feature and similarly fueled by AncestryDNA’s SideView™ technology, assigns your DNA ethnicity estimates from each parent to specific chromosomes.

AncestryDNA has launched a new chromosome painter! The company says it “‘paints’ your DNA with your ethnicities, showing where in your DNA we found the regions that make up your ethnicity estimate.  With this different view of your ethnicity estimate, you can also see which biological parent your ethnicities came from.”

How to use AncestryDNA chromosome painter

To see the AncestryDNA chromosome painter, log in to your AncestryDNA account. (Haven’t tested there yet? Watch our AncestryDNA review to see if it’s a good choice for you.) Choose your “DNA Story” from the dropdown menu. Find your Ethnicity inheritance section. You will see SideView.

You can access your chromosome painting in two different ways. It’s a tab under the Ethnicity inheritance heading. And it’s also at the bottom of the window where you can click, “Explore now.” (If you manage more than one test, you can see other SideViews by choosing another test on this screen.)


The AncestryDNA chromosome painter shows a display of 22 of your chromosomes. Your sex chromosomes, your 23rd pair, are not displayed on your chromosome painting at AncestryDNA.  The colored bars on each chromosome show your DNA segments attributed to parent 1 and parent 2. It’s highly interactive, so click on everything!

You can see three views of the chromosome painting—All, Parent 1, and Parent 2.

AncestryDNA chromosome painter parent 1 parent 2

Choosing Parent 1 will highlight the top row of each chromosome. Choosing Parent 2 will highlight the bottom row of each chromosome. Think of all the possibilities in the future for Ancestry to use additional information in our DNA to tell us more!

You may notice that a small percentage of your results are labeled as “not tested” or “unassigned.” A few regions are not easy to “read,” so they aren’t tested for ethnicity. Also, your ethnicity results may include regions to which you’re assigned 0.5% or less. Ancestry can’t be confident those regions should really be part of your results, so any chromosomes that contribute to those regions are labeled “unassigned.”

On the left side, you can choose an ethnicity to view where that particular estimate shows up in your chromosomes and whether it comes from one parent, the other parent, or both.

If I select Wales, I can see where only one parent (Parent 1) is contributing ethnicity from Wales to my genome. It’s possible to choose two or more ethnicities to analyze.

AncestryDNA chromosome painter for Wales


Some of my ethnicities can be seen painted from both parents. If I choose Scotland, I can see on chromosome 5 where both parents contributed Scottish ethnicity to me.

AncestryDNA chromosome painter for Scotland both parents

Like everything to do with DNA ethnicity estimates, your results in the AncestryDNA chromosome painter are subject to change. Ancestry says, “When we release updates, it’s possible that your chromosome painter results will evolve along with our understanding of DNA science. With each ethnicity update, you may notice more changes in your chromosome painter than you do in your ethnicity estimate. This is because the chromosome painter gives you a close-up view of your chromosomes, so changes are more noticeable.”

Compare chromosome paintings with your DNA matches

Only you can see your chromosome painting, unless you share it with others and anyone you’ve assigned as a manager on your results. DO share and compare with the matches you communicate with! It can be interesting and even informative (especially as this tool evolves) to see where you share the same ethnicity estimates with your DNA matches. Being able to identify which parent is a single contributor to those segments of yours, and which parent is a single contributor to the segments of theirs may give you hints to help you find your most recent common ancestor.

That said, offering to compare chromosome paintings isn’t necessarily the best way to START a conversation with a DNA match. Get our free guide with tips on communicating more successfully with your matches!

Get Free Guide to Contacting DNA Matches

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<a href="" target="_self">Kelli Jo Bergheimer</a>

Kelli Jo Bergheimer

Kelli Bergheimer is a writer, teacher, editor, and national genealogical speaker. Kelli is the Director of Curriculum and Assessment for Blue Kayak, a K-12 textbook company. Her passion for education reaches beyond the classroom to teach others how to use genetic genealogy to solve family history mysteries. Kelli also works as a DNA editor for Legacy Tree Genealogists.


  1. Gretchen Martin

    Specify whether parent one is biological father and parent to his biological mother. Or something else!

    • Your DNA Guide

      Right now Ancestry doens’t have a way to specify which parent is which with their technology. But we’re hopeful that will come soon!

  2. Marc

    I was wondering how much of a single chromosome would be highlighted if, let’s say, you had a great grandparent that was about 100% Irish?
    That’s specific, but generally how can I use this painting feature to help better determine the genetic makeups of my ancestors?
    I am lucky enough to have both of my grandmothers in the system, but they are still so mixed that I am still lost when I look at their chromosomes.

    • Diahan Southard

      Since genetic inheritance is a somewhat random process the regions that someone inherits from each parent/ grandparent will vary by person. From what you’ve described, I would recommend checking out some of these chromosome mapping tools (, they can tell you more about what region you’ve inherited from different ancestors.

  3. Carol Capps

    I know that I have 1% Congo etc. from my mother. It shows up on my chromosome painter on line 3 and also farther down on line 13. Will you explain what the line numbers mean? Like how far back would line 3 go, ggg grandfather? Years?

    • Diahan Southard

      On the chromosome painters, line 3 and 13 are chromosomes 3 and 13. If you have an estimate of 1% Congo, it’s likely a 5th or 6th great-grandparent (assuming that ethnicity only came from one ancestral line).

  4. Leasa Hamilton

    You show chromosomes 1-22. Do we know what each chromosome represents?

    • Your DNA Guide

      Hi Leasa – Chromosomes 1-22 are your autosomal chromosomes. Each one has thousands of genes that control different things in our bodies.

  5. Rebecca

    Chromosome 1 on my maternal side is complete from Spain what does that mean?

    • Your DNA Guide

      Hi Rebecca – Ancestry has compared your DNA to its reference populations from Spain and is hypothesizing that the DNA you inherited from your mom on Chromosome 1 is from an ancestor who lived in Spain hundreds of years ago.

      • Rebecca

        So not necessarily from a recent ancestor? Does each chromosome number correspond to anything particular? I was given 4% Spain with chromosome 1 all Spain dna with nothing else mixed in. Also is there a way to pinpoint what region my 1% Levant dna is from? I also have 16% southern Italian from Calabria / Cosenza


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