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.

13 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.


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