Cedars

Client Q&A Palettes and Line Analysis

1. Are the proportions of each colour in the book a reflection of my colouring. Does that have a direct bearing on how I use these colours in my clothing?

A few factors to think about. First, the designer of the palette makes a decision about how many of which colours to include. We all know by now that you could have 5 swatch books for your Seasons, 70 colours each, none repeated, all accurate. The designer has to decide what they want to express – are Neutral Seasons closer to parent True Seasons or to neighbour Neutrals? Will Dark Winter express its rustic Autumn-ness or its jewel-toned Winter-ness, or both equally? Is this palette intended for women or men, business or party, the fashion scene of the 1980s or the 2015s? How many strips of colours will be given to wardrobe neutrals, reds, white/black alternatives, etc?

The designer makes decisions about which colours will participate in a Season. Red Purple doesn’t factor into Soft Autumn, presumably because that hue doesn’t satisfy the Season’s colour dimensions. I’m not the expert on these decisions. If you look at the Sci\ART books for the same Season over the years, they change considerably. This was probably due to changes in equipment, ink, and perhaps Kathryn’s (Kathryn Kalisz, founder of Sci\ART) evolving beliefs, perceptions, and consumer feedback.

Sometimes, the limits are in the nature of the colour. There are only so many yellows that human eyes can tell apart and not as many yellows available in the high saturation range as there are blues.

From printing RTYNC (the blue book in the margin), the computer’s colour model can impose limits, as well as what a given printer can create.  Giving True Summer a big selection of reds may be tricky, or maybe it’s getting reds clear enough for the Winters.

The available colours have to stay inside all 3 colour dimensions. Bright Spring ranges almost to white and black, and takes its source colours almost from primary colour,  giving a wide range from which to choose.  Summers, with their narrower lightest-darkest range, draw from a smaller range of colours to include in the palettes. Also, on this colouring, small nuance in colours is more apparent than on Winter colouring where colours that are very similar tend to look much the same. The Summer menu has a lot of neutral colours, entirely the wearer’s choice to use them or not.

Every available hue should be present in as wide a range of hue, value, and chroma as the Season will accept. Very hard to do unless the consumer wants to carry a 5lb. book around, which is why it’s so important to choose garments using the entire fan, not single swatches, to maximize your colour options.

Every palette should offer its owner a range of light, medium, and dark colours. They are all divided about 30-30-30.  The darker Season palettes appear darker because they reach a darker endpoint.

The real point of the Q isn’t related to the theory so much as its application. I realize these things, I just get sidetracked :) The palettes do communicate in a collective way, not just swatch by swatch.

Showing too many darker blues and purples in a light or medium darkness Season might have the woman dressing darker than the overall value (darkness) level for that group. Sure, she could select more from the lighter colours, every palette has them, but the thinking is done for her if she fans out the book and ‘gets’ the overall value, hue, and chroma to aim towards.

Photo: lance1

Photo: lance1

Digression: Is that flower Bright Spring or Light Summer? Without laying it on a palette or the drapes, I don’t know the answer. I don’t have a palette at the moment. In my imagination, I’ll substitute something I know. A rainbow, a dish of sorbet, bluebells are Light Summery. In that company, would this flower would take over? In a field of  misty bluebells, this rose is the only thing you’d see. The bluebells might as well be grass, leading me to think the rose is Bright Spring. Could it hold its own next to a Bird of Paradise flower? Probably. Like most design decisions, you have to see it to decide.

Final consideration: Part of what determines how many of which colour appears in a palette is probably related to the Season’s core colour. That’s an complicated concept but it does express real human beings, unlike certain PCA-industry notions that only work on paper. If anyone knows where the idea that Winter is red, Autumn’s core is orange, Spring’s is yellow, and Summer’s is blue, originated, I would love to hear. The choices of fuchsias and purples in the True Winter palette go on and on. Is that a reflection of their core colour of red mixed with the blue that cools that colouring?  The amount of core colour pigment unifying a Season, therefore present in every swatch, helps decide which colours apply. For True Spring, depending on how much of the core yellow pigment the designer adds, there will be a shift in which segment of colour space contributes to the palette.

Finally! Answer to the reader’s Q: Yes and No.  The book gives you overall hue, value, chroma consistency in 60 to 80 unified colours. How you wear them depends on preference, body type, occasion, time of year, personal contrast level, and individual feature colours.

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2. I’m really interested in having a personal image analysis. You’ve said here that I should have my colouring analyzed first. Why? Does it really matter?

A good Q that would be better answered by an image and line expert. I’ve asked Rachel Nachmias of Best Dressed to comment from her experience and perspective. In my opinion, she is THE image expert whose advice will have you wearing modern clothing styles that elevate your power, presence, and sophistication within a matter of seconds. I’ve watched her achieve this over and over, happy to say on myself too.

In general, I would suggest that you have your PCA done first, if at all possible. When clients come in for both, I always do the color analysis first. The reason for this is that, as Christine has said, proper definition of the lines in the face requires it being surrounded by the correct colors. It’s harder for me (and more importantly others who will be looking at you in your new clothes) to see the potential of the face before me until I’ve seen it without too much or too little definition. For more on this topic, you can find an article I wrote with some real life examples here (http://www.bestdressed.us/2014/01/27/how-true-colors-reveal-true-features/). There is also, of course, the same issue I present my PCA clients who opt not to have a PIA – if you’re going to start replacing your wardrobe, why not have all the information for both style and color and save yourself the expense of having to start from scratch ever again?

That said, most of my clients who are having a PIA *want* a PCA, and if they haven’t had one, it’s because of geographic access. Some of you are out there patiently waiting until a Color Analyst sets up shop in your neck of the woods, or at least comes for a visit. Others are willing to make the trek, but need time to save for it because traveling from another country, for example, makes the expense much more significant. My general attitude in this case would be that you may as well go ahead with learning the best styles for you, as it will make a huge difference on it’s own, and I hate to think of you waiting for possibly a few years to start looking and feeling fabulous. Because I am so finely attuned to looking at features, I can typically see through the noise of wrong colors, where others would not be able to. But the decision is really up to you. If you will not be buying any clothing much at all while you wait for your PCA, and don’t have an extensive wardrobe to pick through to work towards your archetype, perhaps it makes no sense.

Here’s my scientific take on it. As with colour perception, the answer must be grounded in how human vision is hard-wired by Nature. What else would make any sense?

When colours are in conflict, shapes and lines cannot find focus. Our brain wants us to notice that there’s a difference. If the colours are quite close, our brain thinks, “That might be a tiger. How am I going to get her to see it so she runs the other way? I know! I’ll blur up the lines. She’s sure to pick up on that!”

Details cannot find definition.  Our brains circuits understand visual information in a stepwise sequence.  As with colour analysis, ignoring the built-in strengths and weaknesses is a little delusional. They are embedded and will not be overriden.

The first levels to process incoming line and shape signals are concerned with general contours. If all the eyes see in the image are outer edges, and blurry ones at that, the visual system finishes processing the image too early. Complexity is lost to us, and what a waste since it’s that very complexity that the higher visual levels of human beings are so beautifully able to interpret correctly. Imagine a half-developed negative from back in the 35mm film days. You see outlines, nothing else. You can’t do much of a line analysis without any lines.

Photo: xaler
Photo: xaler

For an example of contours without definition, look at the image of Victoria Beckham or Hilary Duff  on the Pinterest Know Your Best Hair Colour board. Given only contours, the brain does its best at object recognition. Not being good at understanding outlines in the first place, it can’t fully make sense of the object. The result is that some spaces are not filled in or the brain makes a few incorrect assumptions to get through the day. That’s not only bad for image analysis, it’s bad for survival, evolution’s primary concern.

Rendered in its correct colours, an image develops fully. Edges are focussed and details refine. Only now can the human brain’s higher visual centers make a complete picture available for line and shape analysis.

Have a look at some of the celebrities in the Commentary Booth board on  Pinterest. You can see how distorting the wrong colours are. There’s an image of  Carrie Underwood in an acid yellow-green dress with silver insets. First of all, she’s hard to see. When I actually made myself look at the face, I thought she was Reese Witherspoon.

 

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3 thoughts on “Client Q&A Palettes and Line Analysis”

  1. Christine, thanks for including my question from our refresher session. The background details you’ve given here help me to better understand what goes into the swatch selection.

  2. Very helpful for anyone using swatch books, now I look at them differently. I would like to expand my palette a little (I’ll probably buy another swatch book). I want to ask about orange-reds for bright springs, I don’t have any truly red colour in my swatch book but I think I see them on Indigotones swatches (it’s hard to tell on computer). How much red can Br Sp go? My first instinct says that pure red looking orange next to true red should be ok – I have some clothes this colour and I feel good in them, but I don’t feel equally comfortable wearing similar, very bright lipstick.

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