Research and Development

colorDNA has created a colour system through which a person’s colour characteristics can be analysed, classified and determined as a unique colour expression.

This woman’s colour expression is light medium orange, with moderate contrast, clear even freckles and blue green highlight eyes

Professor Albert Munsell wrote that: “Music is equipped with a system by which it defines sound in terms of pitch, intensity and duration. So should colour be supplied with an appropriate system.” 

The Munsell colour system diagram shows a circle of hues at value 5 and chroma 6 in the blue violet hue

The Munsell system

Munsell went on to invent a colour system which allows every colour to be identified ‘three dimensionally’, and it is now used globally in areas such as education, science and art.

Picasso, Portrait of Dora Maar, 1937 – in the Picasso Museum, Paris

Humans, however, have a multifarious range of three-dimensional neutral tones, and biological colour characteristic variations and combinations.

Les Origines de la Beaute –

The Munsell system alone is not enough to identify and determine a person’s unique colour expression.

A skin analysis must be taken from across the whole face and include such variables as blemishes, freckles, wrinkles, discolouration and facial hair

Humans require their own multifaceted colour classifying process. A process which includes additional colour and contrast identifiers.    

To classify this man’s unique colour expression, particular contrast classifications are considered

The classification process also needs to consider the organic nature of the aging process, health and lifestyle.

The colorDNA system will still be able to produce a colour expression for this female punk rocker. However, it will not be indicative of her natural biological colour expression

The colorDNA system allows people to analyse themselves as their colouring changes through life.

Colour system research

The quest to create a colour system which can determine human colouring has consumed my life for more than 10 years. 

One development led to another, one discovery led to another, each one providing encouragement, energy and the belief to continue.

We researched all areas, which impact the creation of a human colour system. 

We discovered the Neil Harbisson human colour wheel.

We came across the Austrian professor, Dr Felix von Luschan, who, in 1897, published a chromatic scale for classifying skin colour, which consisted of 36 opaque glass tiles that were compared to a person’s skin.

The original opaque glass tiles used by Dr Felix von Luschan

The von Luschan scale was used to establish racial classifications of populations according to skin colour.

It was later reproduced into a clear, highly saturated commercial version.

The reproduction of the von Luschan chromatic scale, originally printed in 1927

Von Luschan’s scale was used widely throughout the first half of the 20th century in anthropometry and race studies.

However, the results were inconsistent and the von Luschan scale was largely abandoned by the 1950s.

We also discovered the Fitzpatrick scale, a six-category classification developed in 1975 by the American dermatologist, Thomas B Fitzpatrick, as a way to estimate the response of different types of skin to ultraviolet (UV) light.

Fitzpatrick scale

This scale was never intended to be used as a human skin colour classification. However, it has been reinterpreted into many different skin classification formats by individuals, businesses and organisations – most often incorrectly.

Given there is no scientific alternative, both the von Luschan and Fitzpatrick scales remain a reference for some people as a human skin colour classification scale.

The Sutton dermatology interpretation of the Fitzpatrick scale

Considering human skin, hair and eyes include a wide range of hues and tones, a standard classification method of comparing skin colours based on a value scale alone is not a plausible method to analyse skin colour.

‘A personal visual assessment is required’.

Seasonal colour theory

The most significant research and development we carried out came from the study and use of the 12-season human colour theory.

These were my go-to books

For over seven years, I researched and developed colour profiles and palettes using the 12-season colour theory, referencing two main books: ‘Colour Me Beautiful’ and Kathryn Kalisz’s ‘Understanding Your Color’.

They aided me in the process of turning a standard physical human colour analysis into an online human colour analysis and classification process.

Our first colour system and website used the seasonal colour theory

The seasonal colour theory of visually analysing humans through a process of colour comparisons is based on the Munsell system and a number of standard colour principles and image consulting techniques.

The screen shot above is one section of our online colour analysis, which compares warm and cool colours to determine juxtaposed colour harmony

From 2013 to 2018 we developed and launched our first colour system, which included 12 seasonal websites and personal profiles.

Colour analysis profile of True Autumn

The online system worked from an uploaded photo, and a series of AI colour comparisons and multiple-choice questions. Each person would receive a colour profile and colour palettes.

Each of the 12 seasons had a personalised colour palette, neutral palette, colour profile and 10 interactive staple colours, across the base

The colorDNA websites included over 26 full spectrum colour palettes and 30,000 personalised colours.

Digitalised interactive colour palette and colour bar created from Pantone colour swatches

I processed thousands of mini-Pantone colour swatches into hundreds of thousands of colour palette combinations.

One of the many handmade colour palettes

After five years of trialling the 12 seasons colour system, I concluded there were too many limitations and inconsistencies with a system that classifies all people into 12 labelled categories and it provided incomplete colour palettes.

People need their own classification, their own colour expression.

Colour expression: Dark, low contrast, with an even, clear underlying orange foundation

Our development of comprehensive colour palettes highlighted the limitations of the existing system, and helped us identify what was missing and what was required.

Alternative structures and processes started to evolve; it was time to create a new human colour system.

A human colour system needs to identify and consider every characteristic on every human

We applied more colour theory and human genetic principles in a more structured and methodical process – generally directed towards our colour palettes.

The more we delved into what was required to cover all human colour characteristics, the more complicated it became.

The aging process produces many colour characteristic changes and classification challenges

However, my faith in the process and the outcome never wavered: we had come too far and I knew there was a positive answer to every issue.

The system needed to be able to classify facial scaring and tattoos

We all need a personalised human colour system through which we are able to accurately classify our colour characteristics, and discover the true relationship between our colour expression and juxtaposed colour.

The colorDNA system will work out a personalised colour palette based on a person’s colour expression

I also know what a great benefit it would be for people to have a personal description and name for their own unique colouring. And not be labelled as black, white, coloured – or something else.

I hope the colorDNA colour system will help change the general narrative around describing human skin colour.

All humans are coloured, just differently.

In 2012, I received encouragement from the Australian Government, which recognised the colorDNA project for such activities as creating a human colour analysis, human colour palettes and human colour profiles.  

We were awarded an annual R&D tax incentive grant, which continues today.

We tried many times to secure private investment and venture capital, including wasting tens of thousands of dollars paying people and businesses to write plans, presentations and pitch decks.

What will the system do?

The colorDNA system can determine the colour/s of underlying skin, hair and eye pigmentation.

The system will also determine the level of colour tone and saturation.

The colorDNA system will determine the whitest hair and teeth, to the darkest hair and eyes

It considers any variations within a person’s biological skin, hair and eyes, and how even or uneven the variations are.

The colorDNA analysis will pick up the underlying skin, hair and eye pigmentation, the level of contrast and the uneven skin tone, caused by vitiligo

It determines the level of contrast between colour characteristics and which colour quality dominates the balance and harmony of a person’s colour expression.

Contrast is an important human colour expression classification: this woman has high contrast

With this information the system will provide the answers to which colours, tones and contrasts look best with a person’s skin, hair and eye colouring.

The colours of this woman’s hijab and make-up create harmony with her skin, hair and eye undertones

If we know the full range of colours and tones which match our colour characteristics, we can apply this knowledge to wearing, coordinating and purchasing clothing and make-up.

The colours along the base of this image are staple colours which harmonise with this woman’s colour expression

These colours and tones could also be applied to the environment in which we live, making our daily lives more comfortable and enjoyable.

This Indian woman feels naturally comfortable around red and orange colours

Personal colour knowledge would help us look and feel better – and if we feel more comfortable, our energy is more positive.

The tones of blue these two women are wearing find harmony with the colour qualities of their colour characteristics

Appearing comfortable, with positive energy, will also make people we interact with more comfortable.

The colours of this woman’s head scarf harmonise beautifully with the colours and tones of her skin, hair and eyes

It also means we will make fewer buying mistakes when choosing clothing colours, reducing the number of clothing purchases we need to make.

This will in turn reduce the amount of unworn clothing and clothing wastage by each person in the Western world.

Clothing wastage

Scientific colour theory

Through a series of human colour profiling articles, I will explain how scientific colour theory is used to classify a person’s colouring and determine their colour expression and colour profile.

In our second series of articles on clothing colour theory, I will demonstrate how individual colour characteristics and a person’s overall colour expression create balance and harmony – or discord – when wearing particular colours, tones and contrasts of clothing and make-up.

The vibrant juxtaposed colours this man is wearing create a wonderful overall look. The warmth of his skin, red eyes and red bindi in the centre of his forehead, find harmony with the orange and red tones of the turban. His facial hair links to the violet and green tones. The tone and variable saturation of his skin is also similar to the value and chroma of his magenta shawl and the optical mixture of the turban. The ivory shirt finds a minor link to the man’s beard but, overall, the lightness of the shirt loses connection and creates a level of discord

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