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Tonal or seasonal analysis?

When I write the Kettlewell blog, I talk almost exclusively in seasonal terms (i.e. referring to the colour palettes as Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter), and within that the different 'types' of each season. However, the palettes can also be divided up according to 'tonal directions' rather than seasons.

In the interests of keeping things clear for all of Kettlewell's customers, not just those who have had a seasonal analysis, a translation guide seemed in order.

Most modern colour analysis systems - including the two UK big names, House of Colour and Colour me Beautiful - use a 12 season analysis system. The difference is not so much in the palettes as in the different names of those palettes. I have dealt with the different seasonal types used by House of Colour in depth in four posts (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter), and today it's the turn of the Colour me Beautiful system to get a little in depth attention, and a translation to the seasonal system.

In the Colour me Beautiful analysis process, the client is assigned a dominant and a secondary tonal direction. These two tonal directions together determine the palette that the client is given. So a client may, for instance, be given 'Clear and Warm', meaning that their dominant tonal direction is Clear, with Warm being the secondary palette signifier.

So what do each of these tonal directions mean? Please note that the translations from tonal to seasonal below may not be exact - every analysis system is slightly different. However, it should give you a good starting point for finding your colours.


A Cool dominant skin tone is one in which the primary, most important descriptor of the client is that they have a cool (blue) undertone to their skin and need cool toned colours to look their best. A Cool dominant person might be a Winter or a Summer in seasonal terms.

Cool + Clear roughly translates to a Cool/Sultry Winter, at the coolest, deepest end of the Winter palette, whereas Cool + Soft translates to a Cool/Deep/Dark Summer, which is the deepest, most saturated end of the Summer - the most 'Winter' end of Summer.


A Warm dominant skin tone is one in which the most important descriptor of the client is that they have a warm (yellow) undertone to their skin, and need similarly warm toned colours to look their best. A warm toned person might be a Spring or an Autumn in seasonal terms.

Warm + Clear translates to a True/Warm Spring, at the warmest, most vibrantly yellow/golden end of the Spring palette, while Warm + Soft equates to a Warm/True/Vibrant Autumn which, like the Spring equivalent, is the most golden, warmest end of the Autumn palette.


Rather than being predominantly warm or cool, the defining characteristic of the Light dominant palette is, well, light. Often fair of skin, hair and eye colour, the lightness of the colour is more crucial than whether the colour falls just to the warm or to the cool side. A Light dominant person might be a Spring or a Summer in seasonal terms.

Light + Cool equates to a Pastel/Light/Cotton Wool Ball Summer, the lightest and brightest summer colours - these colours are the least 'greyed' of the summer palette, and seem to be softened by white more than by grey. Light + Warm translates most closely to a Light/Pastel Spring, containing the lightest and most pastel end of the Spring Colours.


As with the Light palettes, the dominant characteristic of the Deep palette is not warmth or coolness, but depth of colour - tending towards the dark and saturated, and the more neutral end of the spectrum rather than overly warm or cool. A Deep dominant person might be an Autumn or a Winter in seasonal terms.

Deep + Cool translates as a Deep/Dark/Burnished Winter, the Winter palette containing the most neutral (in terms of warmth and coolness) tones, seen as the 'softest' in the Winter palette, as much as any Winter colour can be soft. Deep + Warm is a Deep Autumn, again tending towards the darkest, most neutral (in terms of warmth and coolness) end of the palette.


The Clear dominant palette has as its most defining feature an absence of greying or muted tones to its colours - all the Clear colours are 'true' shades rather than softened versions. A Clear dominant person might be a Spring or a Winter in seasonal terms.

Clear + Cool translates to a Clear/Bright/Sprinter Winter, which falls at the lightest and brightest end of the Winter palette, whereas Clear and Warm equates to a Bright/Clear/Blue Spring, at the brightest and most 'Winter' end of the Spring palette.


The predominant feature of the soft palette is an element of muting, or greying, to the colours, rather than a dominance of warmth or coolness. None of the colours appear at full saturation. A Soft dominant person might be a Summer or an Autumn in seasonal terms.

Soft + Cool equates to a Soft/Brown Summer in seasonal terms, featuring the least cool Summer colours, such as the jade greens and rose browns. Soft + Warm is a Soft Autumn, at the lightest and most muted end of the Autumn palette.

Louise on Aug 31, 2021 10:10 PM

I’ve recently been analysed by CMB as cool, soft, deep. I would love to buy some kettlewell items but struggling to match the colours to those in my wallet. My stand out colours were; sapphire, cornflower, teal, light aqua, duck egg , pine, blue red, cassis, soft fushia, amethyst, orchid, plum and raspberry. What would be the closest kettlewell colours?

Kettlewell Colours: Hi Louise, look at the darker summer colours and the ones that cross over with winter colours.

Una on Dec 21, 2020 12:14 AM

I must say out of reading all of this and being familiar with Colour Me Beautiful after it changed from seasons to tonal, that I find having had my colours done with House of Colour is by far a much easier way. You have your wallet; we have our assessment chart, and that's it. I wear practically all the Autumn colours but in the right amounts so something say like a warm Rose Pink would be an Autumn but just 25% most. I'm not going to buy a cardigan or a frtock in Rose Pink!

OLIVIA on Apr 19, 2020 7:07 AM

In my PepSi was a Summer....since then...twice been told Autumn and last year..Deep.?grey eyes blue green veins mouse greying ,slightly hair......?

Patricia on Apr 02, 2020 9:42 PM

Years ago I was analyised as deep autumn. Last month had colours redone, I'm now a clear, deep, warm.

Am I to wear bright colours of the Autumn pallet. Please help me under stand.

Kettlewell Colours: Clear, Deep and Warm most closely equates to a Burnished Winter/Deep Autumn crossover. It's likely that the colours which crossover between Autumn and Winter (Pine, Cassis, Pansy, Neon Yellow, among many others) will work well. If you feel unclear, compare with your swatch book and chat to your consultant, who should be able to guide you in the best Kettlewell colours for you.

Chris on Aug 25, 2019 12:29 PM

Once given soft autumn. Will I b this all my life?

Kettlewell Colours: You will always be an Autumn but your type of Autumn might change. This blog post explains it and there is a link to another blog post explaining the different types of Autumns.

Clare Heathcote on Apr 14, 2019 10:54 AM

I was analysed as Cool, light, muted, with my best colour as Light Blue Green 57 in CMB. Blue Green, Orchid, Light Blue Red and Pastel Aqua were the next best. PLEASE could you translate these into Kettelewell colours for me? Many thanks! Clare

Kettlewell Colours: We think that these Kettlewell colours would suit you and are roughly equivalent to the CMB colours. They won't be exact matches. Try Bright Jade, Aquagreen, Light Emerald, Crushed Berry, Soft Orchid, Cherry, Watermelon, Iced Aqua, Mint Ice and Hawaii.

If you go to Shop by Colour on the website, you can search out Tonal Directions which might help you find some more.

Diana on Mar 30, 2019 2:02 PM

Hi Paula, great post, this is a whole science. I keep learning as my life changed when I was analysed and told I’m a Deep Cool Jewel Winter. Although I have found excellent colours through various Winter palettes, I Still have not seen a palette with this description. Please can you give an example of this palette? Thank you!

Kettlewell Colours: You have been analysed using two different systems - seasonal (the Jewel Winter bit) and tonal (the Deep Cool bit!) As far as we know Deep and Cool translates to a Burnished Winter and a Jewel Winter would be classed as Clear and Cool. These two blog posts should help work out which is more appropriate for you.

Lynn on Jan 15, 2019 5:57 PM

I have the same colouring as Edda but with greenish eyes. I was a true spring when younger . With age my hair and skin have changed and I cannot wear brighter stronger colours now, and light colours wash me out. Your quiz says I am an Autumn. Many of these colours are too stong and warm for me, and presumably I haven't changed season. Colours marled with cream or beige to soften them

and mid colours work best. Although soft is limited to autumn and summer I really think there needs to be a soft spring catagory.

Sarah on Nov 16, 2018 6:58 PM

Really helpful article.

Edda whiteside on Jun 21, 2018 3:57 PM

Help! I’m confused, I can’t determine my colours 😊

I’m fair skinned with a little pink, medium brown/dark blonde hair, bright blue eyes!

Sometimes i think I’m a summer, then i think I’m a spring?!!!

What do you think?

I’m naturally drawn to medium colours, pastels wash me out, black makes me look ill, very bright colours are over powering! Though i have got a cobalt blue jacket that has got me some compliments, as does turquoise and green.

Hoping you can be of some help, thankyou 😊

Kettlewell Colours: Have you tried the colour quiz on our website? This might help you decide. :-)

Lorna on Nov 28, 2017 11:51 AM

Hi Paula, I am soft, warm and light in CMB, which makes me a soft autumn in other systems, however due to my lightness I find it confusing and feel like a spring! It's been about seven years since my analysis...

Trisha on Oct 30, 2017 1:21 PM

Paula Walter (above) you are still a Spring as I understand CMB. I am also Clear, Warm and Light (was rediagnosed last year by them) and have gone from Deep Autumn to Clear Spring with age and lighter, brighter eyes. Paula Bishop (above) Clear, Warm and Deep is in effect on the border between the old Deep Winter (cool, deep and Clear) and Deep Autumn(warm, deep and muted).

Jane on Apr 21, 2017 11:35 PM

Interesting article, but I find the HOC system so much easier to understand and explain to other people.

Sharon on Apr 11, 2017 11:38 AM

Years ago I was categorised as a Light Summer, which I guess puts me into the cotton wool ball category. Does this mean that I only have twelve colours to choose from? Or can I use all of the colours in the 'Light' palette?

Kettlewell Colours: You can use all the colours in the Light Palette but the ones in your category will be especially flattering.

plain jane on Apr 08, 2017 12:21 PM

at last some clarity! could never understand the 4 seasons analysis, often judged different seasons by different analysts- new there were people who made much better springs. summers and autumns than me... and looked much better in the colours than I did- I am a completely neutral skin tone , mousy hair, grey eyes dominant feature soft :}..soft and cool or soft and warm

plain jane on Apr 08, 2017 12:20 PM

at last some clarity! could never understand the 4 seasons analysis, often judged different seasons by different analysts- new there were people who made much better springs. summers and autumns than me... and looked much better in the colours than I did- I am a completely neutral skin tone , mousy hair, grey eyes dominant feature soft :}..soft and cool or soft and warm

Paula Walter on Apr 08, 2017 9:28 AM

I had a colour update with Colour Me Beautiful recently. I was previously a Spring. I'm now a light /warm/clear - How amazing - I knew I changed! The tonal system is much easier to understand and, it seems CMB have 24 palettes. They only mention 12 in their books, but when I saw my consultant she mentioned that they personalise your shades even further. Love the Kettlewell clothing!

Barbara on Apr 07, 2017 2:05 PM

Over the years I have had both sorts of analysis fortunately with the same result. With a large palette to choose from I wanted to refine it so I had a refresh with HOC to identify my very best colours with their new grading approach. It was very useful.

jayne smith on Apr 07, 2017 10:14 AM

Very good article. Love the fiesta Orange. Just wish there was more in it

Georgina on Apr 06, 2017 9:26 PM

Very interesting post. I'm still not sure if i'm a soft or a cool summer; i'll just have to try different co,ours till i find the right ones!

Artist Helen on Apr 06, 2017 5:11 PM

Very interesting but more difficult to understand. When I had my colours done, I was told that I was a "Bright Jewelled Winter" so I'm guessing that this would translate as "Clear and cool" judging by the colours? Thanks for all this excellent guidance - we all need it!

Pauline Bishop on Apr 06, 2017 12:05 PM

This is clear and interesting as far as it goes (and thankyou for making the point that there is an alternative to the seasons!). However, there are actually 24 palettes, as every palette takes account of the 3 colour aspects (light/deep, muted/bright, warm/cool). For example, I am CLEAR and warm, but also deep, so along with the Spring-like colours I also wear deeper shades, such as mahogany and mustard. The 3rd dimension in each palette can sometimes make a lot of difference.

Rhona Light on Apr 06, 2017 11:49 AM

Thank you, really helpful.