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Tonal Color Analysis vs Seasonal Color Analysis - Which is Right for You? Tonal Color Analysis vs Seasonal Color Analysis - Which is Right for You?

Posted on by Designing Fresh Collaborator 0 comments

What is Tonal Color Analysis?

While it may seem convenient to have only one system for color analysis, the truth is that color is very complex and not everyone fits neatly into the seasonal color analysis box. Not everyone has the typical or common coloring for their seasonal color type. This doesn't mean that they are not that season or that they can't use a seasonal color palette or that seasonal color analysis is wrong in some way. 

Some people just have a certain characteristic within their natural coloring that is so dominant, that they may be better off using a more limited and fine-tuned palette that caters to that very dominant characteristic. This is where 'tonal' color analysis fits in. 

What is a characteristic anyway? The main elements that are used to identify the qualities of your natural coloring such as, warm or cool, bright or soft, light, or dark. 

In the tonal color analysis system, six color groups or 'color families' have been identified that are based on these dominant color characteristics. These color groups are labeled as follows:

  • Light
  • Deep
  • Bright
  • Muted or Soft
  • Warm
  • Cool

You can learn more about these color families and see specific examples of who fits into each one here.

How Do You Know Which System is Best for You?

It really comes down to whether or not you have a certain characteristic that is really dominant in comparison to your overall coloring. For example, you could be a 'Winter' color type which is a cool bright season, but your dominant characteristic could be that you are very bright overall. In this case, you would be better off using the 'Bright' tonal color palette. The brightest and purest set of colors will really harmonize with and bring out the bright tones in your skin, eyes, and hair. Or you could be really soft or deep in coloring overall. 

For example, this model has coloring that is in the medium range but as you can see her coloring contains little to no visible warmth. Her hair is cool and ashy (silver overtone), her skin has an obvious red-violet or pink tone, and her eyes are a cool green.  She is a 'Summer' seasonal color type, however here dominant characteristic is that she is very cool overall. 

Cool Coloring

Image Source: Pinterest

While this model below is also a 'Summer' color type, if you compare her coloring to the model above you will notice that she is not as cool overall. Her skin and her hair contain a little bit of warmth. This is what sets them apart and why this model would be better off sticking with the standard 'Summer' seasonal color palette and the green-eyed model is better off using the 'Cool' tonal palette. 

Summer Coloring

Image Source: Pinterest

Another example would be to compare two warm color types. The model below is an 'Autumn' color type. However, you will notice that her coloring is very warm. Her hair is red, her skin is a warm apricot tone, and her eyes are golden brown. Her natural coloring contains no visible coolness whatsoever. She could utilize the 'Autumn' seasonal color palette, but because she is so warm she would be much better off in the colors contained in the 'Warm' tonal color palette. 

Warm Coloring

Image Source: Pinterest

On the other hand, this model below is also warm and soft overall and fits into the 'Autumn' seasonal color type but notice how her eye color contains some cool tones. She is not as warm overall as the brown-eyed autumn in the first example. This is why the first model is better off using the tonal system instead of the standard seasonal system. 

Autumn Coloring

Image Source: Pinterest

I hope the above examples have helped to better clarify the difference between these two systems, why they are needed, and who fits into them. 

Think you may be a tonal color type? Take our FREE ONLINE QUIZ now to find out.

What is Tonal Color Analysis?

While it may seem convenient to have only one system for color analysis, the truth is that color is very complex and not everyone fits neatly into the seasonal color analysis box. Not everyone has the typical or common coloring for their seasonal color type. This doesn't mean that they are not that season or that they can't use a seasonal color palette or that seasonal color analysis is wrong in some way. 

Some people just have a certain characteristic within their natural coloring that is so dominant, that they may be better off using a more limited and fine-tuned palette that caters to that very dominant characteristic. This is where 'tonal' color analysis fits in. 

What is a characteristic anyway? The main elements that are used to identify the qualities of your natural coloring such as, warm or cool, bright or soft, light, or dark. 

In the tonal color analysis system, six color groups or 'color families' have been identified that are based on these dominant color characteristics. These color groups are labeled as follows:

  • Light
  • Deep
  • Bright
  • Muted or Soft
  • Warm
  • Cool

You can learn more about these color families and see specific examples of who fits into each one here.

How Do You Know Which System is Best for You?

It really comes down to whether or not you have a certain characteristic that is really dominant in comparison to your overall coloring. For example, you could be a 'Winter' color type which is a cool bright season, but your dominant characteristic could be that you are very bright overall. In this case, you would be better off using the 'Bright' tonal color palette. The brightest and purest set of colors will really harmonize with and bring out the bright tones in your skin, eyes, and hair. Or you could be really soft or deep in coloring overall. 

For example, this model has coloring that is in the medium range but as you can see her coloring contains little to no visible warmth. Her hair is cool and ashy (silver overtone), her skin has an obvious red-violet or pink tone, and her eyes are a cool green.  She is a 'Summer' seasonal color type, however here dominant characteristic is that she is very cool overall. 

Cool Coloring

Image Source: Pinterest

While this model below is also a 'Summer' color type, if you compare her coloring to the model above you will notice that she is not as cool overall. Her skin and her hair contain a little bit of warmth. This is what sets them apart and why this model would be better off sticking with the standard 'Summer' seasonal color palette and the green-eyed model is better off using the 'Cool' tonal palette. 

Summer Coloring

Image Source: Pinterest

Another example would be to compare two warm color types. The model below is an 'Autumn' color type. However, you will notice that her coloring is very warm. Her hair is red, her skin is a warm apricot tone, and her eyes are golden brown. Her natural coloring contains no visible coolness whatsoever. She could utilize the 'Autumn' seasonal color palette, but because she is so warm she would be much better off in the colors contained in the 'Warm' tonal color palette. 

Warm Coloring

Image Source: Pinterest

On the other hand, this model below is also warm and soft overall and fits into the 'Autumn' seasonal color type but notice how her eye color contains some cool tones. She is not as warm overall as the brown-eyed autumn in the first example. This is why the first model is better off using the tonal system instead of the standard seasonal system. 

Autumn Coloring

Image Source: Pinterest

I hope the above examples have helped to better clarify the difference between these two systems, why they are needed, and who fits into them. 

Think you may be a tonal color type? Take our FREE ONLINE QUIZ now to find out.

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