TCI vs. 12 Blueprints

Note: I have since spoken with a TCI-trained analyst who says that she does see more unusual coloring/season combinations, such as DAs with blonde hair and blue eyes like myself, in her practice. I wish Amelia’s website made it more clear that the unusual is not impossible in the way she teaches Sci\ART.

Since True Colour brought its color analysis training to the United States, the color analysis community on Facebook has been rocked by the changes this new perspective on Sci\ART has brought. Analysts that were formerly under the 12 Blueprints banner were retrained, some of them even draping into different seasons themselves.

At first, I was excited about the prospect of a new voice in color analysis in the US. I had had my doubts about the 12Blueprints way of doing things for a while. Many people feel that 12Blueprints produces too many Bright seasons. I’ve seen people say things like Bright Winter was the only way they were visible under the heavy lights used during the draping, or that Bright Winter ended up as kind of a default because it was the closest to providing what they needed. To me, it seemed strange that a season as strong as BW was being used as any kind of default or “well, there’s nothing better, so…” season!

What happened, however, was more disappointing to me than a parade of Brights. It was Soft Party USA.

Here’s a quote from the TCI Facebook page:

“I came into training thinking harmony cleaned things up on a person, or gave them a ‘zing’ or ‘wow’ factor. But I walked out thinking it maintained a person exactly as they were, that harmony looked different for every season, but it would never distort or change what you saw about their face against the neutral gray. And that might incidentally produce a zing, or be cleaner than something less harmonious, but that was not the primary goal.”
Heather Whitely
Fort Worth 2016

Now, here’s the thing. I don’t think looking disharmonious is desirable. I don’t think needing lipstick to show up in your season is a good thing. But I want to look my best.

From TCI’s blog:

I originally became a color analyst in search of harmony, however I started on a path that used Sci\ART terminology but sought and celebrated other things—intensity of eyes, definition of bone structure, the appearance of a slimmer or younger face, removal of redness, and cultural interpretations of beauty that pushed people to a point far more intense than their natural beauty could accommodate. There was heavy reliance on makeup to make the picture work, and an obsession with finding the exact perfect shade of lipstick since so many of them were far too much for the client. “Unusual” coloring became highly usual – “light” darks, “soft” brights, cool-toned people with warm “overtones,” blonde and redheaded winters… So many people walked away surprised by their assigned color space. And these were not just my clients – many more were the clients of my colleagues, practicing with the same philosophy and methodology.

Now, obviously, as a blonde in Dark Autumn, I’m naturally going to bristle at this a little. Dark Autumn just… works. When it comes to lipstick, for instance, this is the first time in my life when I’m finding it easy to find lipstick that works on my face. I never wore lipstick before because the direction I’d been pointed in as a blonde looked odd and unnatural on me, and I had no idea how to go about finding what my correct boundaries were. Same thing with clothes–I basically only wore black and gray. With Dark Autumn, even the colors that many people view as “ugly”–pea green, brownish yellow–look great, and I have confidence that if I have a Dark Autumn color on, I’ll look great.

Anyway, what the vast majority of the redrapings seem to be is putting someone into one of the two Soft seasons. Amelia admits that she sees these two seasons the most often.

When see I Soft after Soft, however, I don’t feel “wowed” the way I often do when someone has been properly analyzed. Soft seasons can look beautiful–this is a great example. Often, though, person is just… there.

But me? I want to look my best. I’m fairly certain I would end up a Soft if I went to a TCI-trained analyst:



Soft top, Dark bottom. Drape images from PrismX11.

I’ve never really tried Soft Autumn, but I remember when I tried the Soft Autumn draping cards–basically, nothing happens. Maybe that’s harmony, I don’t know. But I do know that I prefer how I look and feel in Dark Autumn.

Some people do prefer the TCI approach and results. That’s fine! To me, no matter how much it’s advertised as a “science”–I think it’s actually pretty subjective. What do you want to look like? Which aesthetic do you prefer? My advice is–when you’re thinking about getting an analysis, look at the analyst’s client portfolio. Do you like how the people look in their season? Does your aesthetic match the analyst’s? Don’t just go to whomever happens to be closest. Getting draped is a major investment.

26 Comments on TCI vs. 12 Blueprints

  1. Dianne
    January 8, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    I think you are so right! I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.
    I’ve been wondering if there is not another 2 components to our palettes. I wold suggest that these are our natural levels of contrast and our body/facial structure essence.

    • stylesyntax
      January 10, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      I don’t think you can use a Sci\ART seasonal designation and have that be it–there are few style guidelines on the PrismX11 palettes, but not really enough to create a whole image. It’s something that works as a component, not on its own–you still need style/line analysis.

  2. Dianne
    January 8, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    Sorry, that was would not would.
    Here is why I’ve been thinking about this.
    My sister was analyzed as a bright Spring many years ago. Those colors seem to be associated with clothing styles that don’t fit her body or her personality.
    Having said this… I want to get the new PrismX11 palettes and see if they feel better.

  3. dia
    January 12, 2017 at 5:14 am

    Yes! I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I think color is a tool that can make us look a certain way, but we don’t always want to look the /same/ way. Sometimes, I want to blend in and harmonize, not draw attention to myself. Sometimes I want drama, to stand out, to clash. The same for body type recommendations: a “flattering” silhouette on me may have more feminine shapes, but sometimes I want to look androgynous, regardless of if that’s harmonious with my given shape. When we look at these systems, we should ask ourselves what we’re trying to get out of them. What does looking our best even mean?

  4. Chiara
    January 19, 2017 at 7:21 am

    Having been to several drapings with Amelia, she is M.E.T.I.C.U.L.O.U.S in her approach, and there has been no doubt by the end that the outcome was the best achievable with those drapes. One person’s draping I went to (a man), there was quite a lot to like in the dark autumn drapes. And the soft autumn drapes looked OK, with SA the conclusion. It is only now that I’ve seen that person in ‘real life’ SA clothing that I appreciate that Amelia’s judgement for the impact of the colours was exactly right; SA produces a richness in hair and eye colour, and gorgeous creamy skin tone that DA does not. However, I think, in a male, the slight heaviness and authoritative appearance of the DA colours was still very acceptable as a ‘look’. So it seemed Amelia was able to see past that ‘societal’ expectation of how a man might present, to how the colours worked. Another draping I went to- the result was soft summer, and there was no doubt that it was correct, the eye colour in the SS greens was just extraordinary. As anrom observation, I suspect that soft colouring may well be the dominant colouring in the population that Amelia works with!

    • stylesyntax
      January 19, 2017 at 3:17 pm

      I don’t doubt that Amelia is very thorough. For me, it’s a question of approach/aesthetics. The same preponderance of Softs was found when she did her training sessions in the US and among drapings by the people she trained there, so it’s not a question of geography. (Just an observation–AFAIK, none of the analysts trained by KK are Softs, and that makes me wonder, too.) If you like the results she gets, I think it’s fine–it’s just important for people to recognize that not all Sci\ART-based work is the same.

      I also don’t like how it seems like she tries to position herself as the only “true” practitioner. For me, the jury is still out on 12 Blueprints as a whole, but Christine seems to accept that different people do things differently and doesn’t seem to feel the need to position herself as the only “correct” option in the same way. That really turns me off. I’ve had some interactions with her analysts and clients on Facebook that just really made me not want to even consider TCI.

  5. Moreau
    February 1, 2017 at 10:03 pm

    I just had to respond to second your comment about how important PCA can be to finding a suitable lipstick. Like you, I hardly ever wore lipstick because I couldn’t find the right shade. And, when I did wear it, I felt self-conscious – as though the lipstick was wearing me, or as though I wasn’t wearing anything at all. My medium brown hair, light eyes, and pale lips seemed to lead makeup salespeople to shades that were either too bright, too warm, or too nude.

    Enter a 12 Blueprints analyst, who draped me as a True Summer. Certain drapes of both Light and Soft Summer worked for me, and I might be able to “cheat” into some of those seasons’ lipsticks. But I honestly wouldn’t want to. I feel as though my palette is broad enough to allow me to have both a “natural” lipstick shade and a “notice me!” one.

    Interesting, though, that TCI seems to favor the Soft seasons over the Brights. (And interesting, too, that 12 Blueprints seems to have a lot of Brights.) I could see that I could have been draped as Soft Summer, and that the results would appear more or less “natural,” though perhaps lacking some of the oomph I get from True Summer.

    TL;DR I wouldn’t be able to chose a lipstick properly without 12 Blueprints. But, I’m neither a Bright nor a Soft season.

    • stylesyntax
      February 2, 2017 at 11:32 am

      Yeah, I think it really helps to have this guidance. Most of us grow up with learning how to figure out what makeup colors to wear by overall darkness level/hair color/eye color, which just isn’t enough. The colors I end up with using that metric are my worst!

  6. Leslie
    April 17, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    I was draped by both by two different analysts and had the same feelings you mentioned. I was draped TW first and had never felt more beautiful or alive. Then had an analyst in the TCI system doubt my winteryness and draped me DA. While I could agree that it looked “natural” sometimes, I felt so drab. I had always worn autumn colors but more to blend in. I never felt good or confident. Maybe I wasn’t wearing the right colors or style (I’ve since honed in as a yang classic, so that makes a big difference for me as well) but I still gravitate towards TW as I believe it makes me pop and gives me the best look overall.

    • stylesyntax
      April 18, 2017 at 11:37 am

      Yeah, you have to trust what *you* think looks best.

  7. Kelsey
    October 19, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    I was draped (by a 12Blueprints analyst) a few months ago as a Bright Winter. I was shocked, as I assumed I was a Soft or maybe True Summer. But the draping was very convincing, and I’m super happy with the results.

    I have to laugh, though, at the dismissive attitude toward “intensity of eyes, definition of bone structure, the appearance of a slimmer or younger face, removal of redness” that 12 Blueprints emphasizes. I don’t know many people who don’t want to look younger, clearer, with better bone structure and brighter eyes. My analysis absolutely revealed a “wow factor” that – instead of pushing me beyond my natural beauty – showed me how far my natural beauty could take me.

    Style is an important element of this. I will look like I’m in a costume in anything super trendy or glamorous – even in BW colors. But I’m restrained, relaxed classic/natural clothes with a touch of gamine, I look like myself. Color is just one, albeit important, piece of the puzzle.

    • stylesyntax
      October 19, 2018 at 2:48 pm

      I’m not going to pay hundreds of dollars if there is no “wow” factor involved, that’s for sure!

  8. Elizabeth Stewart
    November 2, 2018 at 6:22 am

    I have been draped three times by House of Color analysts (we don’t have the Sci/Art system anywhere near where I live in England). The results were: Summer (definitely not! I looked terrible in Summer colors); Autumn (classified as Warm Autumn) which was much better: finally Paintbox Spring (like Bright Spring but not quite as cool). The Spring season is certainly correct, but I always look and feel better in the warm shades of True Spring and can also wear some Warm Autumn shades. I am not at all happy about all the contradictions in this system. I was previously draped (very well and really accurately) by Color1 in the US, and classed as a Gentle. The colors were all warm, light to medium, and very slightly softened. This is still the best for me, but my little swatch book is literally falling apart so I wanted to get a replacement. Color1 is no longer in operation, so what can a newbie do if she/he wants to get a really brilliant analysis? I also very strongly disagree with all the “style” adjectives that 12blueprints apply to their seasons. As a definite Spring of some type, I am a quiet, introverted person – not at all the happy-go-lucky extrovert their system describes. I know many, many exceptions to this rule. I think it spoils the overall impression of 12blueprints. I do wish Color1 would come back to life again, as they were certainly the best for me.

  9. Ing-Marie Koppel
    January 29, 2019 at 4:53 am

    This syntax thing made me think if it would not be possible to expand the titles of the seasons a bit. I mean adding the system name to each season. There are many versions of each season. For instance, Light Spring could be palettes like Light Spring/12 Blueprints, Light Spring/TCI, Light Spring/CMB etc etc. You could pair all the Light Spring palettes and see if you look better in one or the other. Then there are the 16 tones palettes and new systems coming up continually.

    • stylesyntax
      February 3, 2019 at 8:48 pm

      I think that would make the situation even more confusing, because you have different parameters for what “Light Spring” is. Personally, I have given up on subseasons altogether.

      • AG
        February 18, 2019 at 4:57 pm

        Great posts, interesting discussion about the future of color analysis!

        As a 12Blueprints analyzed Light Summer, falling back to only colors for the closest main season color palette True Summer (I use TCI color palettes), would make me look drab. About half the TSu palette would be too dark, too cool, too heavy or too muted creating a tired, pale, depressed look for me. The other half is okay, but each TSu shade has a better LSu alternative.

        Why give all this vital nuance (lighter shades and a little warmed versions of the cool colors+own yellows+own exact best neutrals in my case) going back to 4 main seasons? The idea of neutral skin tones of different kind seems pretty compelling at this point.

        Merriam Style (great style videos!) is also advocating a ”new” color model going back to 4 true tones of the 1980s. Her argument seems to be there are no neutral people. If you are warm (bright or delicate in her system for True Spring and True Autumn) then no cool color can compliment you like warm colors do. So no blues,purples or fuchsia for warms. No yellows for cools…

        Perhaps the 4 season model is some sort of a ”safety-play” which works ok if the (Kibbe, Truth-Is-Beauty…) lines are correct? Perhaps lines really are a more important element than color. People do tend to converge to neutrals black, white, gray, beige in most everyday situations and even in media and redcarpets.
        In the big complex picture maybe that is ’good enough’ given the simplifications it offers?

        I don’t think TCI and 12BP are in any way inconsistent approaches. The palettes and their esthetic principles seem the same. I am willing to bet a Scandinavian Sci\ART-analyst would find neither Soft nor Bright biases but a ”Light”-bias. There is no reason to think the 12 color spaces are equally distributed. People flattered by Soft and Bright seasons could well cover most of humankind.

        • stylesyntax
          February 18, 2019 at 5:19 pm

          People who charge money to tell people their “Kibbe type” make me shudder and I follow exactly zero of these people on YouTube, but I have also long abandoned 12 seasons for four–this post is pretty old! I do like David Kibbe’s approach, which I suspect is what MerriamStyle is emulating. I find the 12 palettes far too limiting. I’d rather go VERY controlled (Zyla) or have a basic color space that is easier to live with. I don’t see the benefit in 12, or 16, or 24 color spaces. I would not view it as a Light Summer dipping into Soft Summer and True Summer; I would see it as going for lush cool colors, versus Winter’s cool jewel tones. David has told me I’d be either a Bright Spring or a Gentle Autumn, which refers to color use and not the palette you’re given, so I just look at the bright colors of Spring–without being a “Bright” Spring in the 12 season sense. It is easier to find the better lines for you if you’re more flexible with color, and I’d rather have a wardrobe with colors ranging from B+ to A+ for me with A+ lines than a wardrobe of plain t-shirts in colors that fit a single color setting.

          (Also it is entirely untrue that warm people don’t have blues or purples, etc. I haven’t seen an orange on a four-season Winter or Summer palette, but everyone has a yellow, and certainly Springs and Autumns have purple and blue.)

          • AG
            February 18, 2019 at 5:57 pm

            Does the color use of Bright Spring or Gentle Autumn refer to you wanting a bright/lively or a gentle look? How do you find the ’gentle’ autumn colors in the Spring palette? It sounds like those two palettes would be contradictory in terms of harmonizing?

            MerriamStyle — agreed she merely applies Kibbe and probably in an unsolicitated way. But while waiting for David Kibbe himself to step up and claim the territory he deserves the Merriam Style videos offer nice visuals to what iine differences mean and look like. I would not pay for that advice either although I do not regret paying for my color analysis, given it worked out so well. As we’ve read here and elsewhere the ’hit ratio’ of various schools and types of analysts could be much improved. I guess the vague, non-specific and non-messurable artistic approaches yields more lucrative market for consultants. A workable Kibbe test based on objective exact body measurements seems straight-forward to develop (by him) if he wanted to.

            I totally agree that at some point all color optimization and line tinkering needs to become ’simple enough’.

          • stylesyntax
            February 18, 2019 at 8:03 pm

            I believe the “Bright” or “Gentle” refers to my own coloring–so I would be higher contrast among all Springs, but among all Autumns, I would be lower. Many of his Autumns, for instance, are draped Winter in other systems. It’s not a question of combining them; I’d be only one, but he would have to see me to know for sure. I am just going with Spring for now because I feel like Autumn got heavy on me, especially since I realized I was T4 in DYT.

            David Kibbe makes himself very accessible on Facebook, and I hope he expands into YouTube and things like that, but the YouTube gurus of today don’t do a better job of presenting his work accurately than the “gurus” of five years ago. They hinder people in understanding his work rather than help.

        • Elizabeth Stewart
          February 19, 2019 at 5:20 am

          Interesting comment, and I agree that there is no inherent contradiction between the different 12-season approaches, but they are hard to get absolutely right. I do find the warm/cool approach works best for me. Nothing cool (although some warm purples are good on me), no blues, absolutely no fuchsias, and I need to keep my colours on the lighter side. Anything cool makes me look ill, and anything dark shows up my lines and dark circles, and makes me look about ten years older. I have figured that much out myself, and the best method I’ve found for deciding which colours are best for me is the simple “drop the drapes” test that Christine Scamann describes. Basically you start with a series of drapes of various shades of one colour – cool, light, warm, deep and so on – culled from your own wardrobe or in my case, including husband’s and kids’ shirts too. Place them one on top of the other around your neck and shoulders, covering up what is underneath. Sit in front of a big mirror in daylight. Note the effect of the first colour, then remove it and quickly note the effect of the different colour underneath. Keep going. After a few tries, you will get a pretty good idea of what colours are best and what are dreadful. Worth trying, I think. And it gives you a truly personalized result.

  10. Tina
    February 8, 2020 at 6:37 am

    Very late to the party with my reply, but what bothered me the most was being told “don’t trust your instincts. They have been swayed by the fashion industry and media.” It was a subtle ploy to sell color services of course.

    Due to my blog, I tried out many color analysis systems. I was dubbed everything from True Summer (NO) to Light Summer (gives me fuzzy fat face syndrome) to Bright Spring (much better, but too warm). It wasn’t until getting my hands on the Bright Winter Classic fan that I found authenticity. It felt like coming home…..the colors I wore as a teen. A follow up draping done to assist a talented student showed me I was right about my instincts all along.

    Now I am at that point YAFD (yet another ****ing draping) is the last thing I need or want. To be honest, Amelia’s article made me question everything and threw me into a tailspin. I am sure in TCI I’d be placed in Light Summer…..but that does not work for me and I would rebelliously revert to BW anyway. Moral of the story: listen to yourself a little bit more.

    • stylesyntax
      February 8, 2020 at 3:10 pm

      “Don’t trust your instincts” is definitely a “yikes” moment. The further along I get, the more I am convinced that we basically know ourselves, and the job of an analyst is to help us along and see what we already know. But we also should look better when we walk out than when we came in, which also isn’t the case for many color analysts, unfortunately. What comes out may be “correct” according to a theory… but if you can’t look at the “after” pics and feel like you’d want to look like that, what’s the point?

  11. Tina
    September 14, 2020 at 9:36 pm

    Funny thing….a few of the ladies who retrained with TCI either are no longer practicing, or they went on a certain FB group and sold all of their tools, including the drape sets. I find that very telling.

    • stylesyntax
      September 14, 2020 at 10:05 pm

      Very interesting! I just went on the site and there were much fewer U.S.-based analysts than I remembered…

      • Tina
        September 16, 2020 at 10:49 am

        Of real interest is, the two US analysts who were in Amelia’s story are no longer practicing. I am not saying anyone’s method is better or worse, but you hit the nail on the head in an earlier blog post. Look through the analyst’s portfolios. If you like what you see, then you should be in good hands. ?

        • stylesyntax
          September 20, 2020 at 2:09 pm

          Interesting that they left the profession all together… I long ago grew disillusioned with the Sci\ART offshoots and I wonder if they felt the same and that’s why they stopped, or if there just isn’t a big enough market for all the analysts being trained.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *