Wouldn’t it be nice to have a crystal ball that would let us predict the healed result of any pigment we choose? Think of it. No more worries about blue lips,purple (or pink) brows, or concerns about undertones.

The answer of course is yes! But we live in an imperfect world and work on a living human canvas that resides in a hostile environment subject to attack by sun and chemicals. The most important thing as micropigmentation professionals is to know what to do NEXT when we do not get the desired result. In other words, we need to know what colors will solve our problem or create the desired result on a redhead, a true blonde or a raven-haired beauty. We need to know what to do after their makeup fades over time and they come back for help with their purple brows (or pink or orange for that matter).

Choosing the right pigment or mixing the right combination of pigments involves evaluation of the client’s skin transluscency, melanin content, vascularity, thickness, health, age, topography, presence of scar tissue, disease processes and overall skin tones. So look carefully and closely at the canvas you are about to place color INTO! Do not harm it or tear it or cause it to bleed excessively. Do not overwork it or scar it or believe everything you hear about what works and what doesn’t. Use your sense of sight and touch and listen to your client and your gut and you’ll succeed. Here are a few tips! 

You can't learn too much about color. That is our only business. You must take a look at a fascinating, informative online color resource. Go to: http://www.color-wheel-pro.com which offers Color Wheel Pro - a unique software program that allows you to see color theory in action. With Color Wheel Pro, you can create harmonious color schemes and preview them on real-world examples.

The Basics of Color Theory by: George Davis, Honolulu, Hawaii

As PC professionals we spent a lot of time looking for just the right tools, perfecting our techniques, and finding the products that work best. But one of the most important aspects of our work is often one of the least talked about, and that’s color. Color theory is basically the knowledge of mixing colors as well as combining colors in ways that give you the results you desire. Color is at the very foundation of our profession yet it’s one of the areas in which many of us have not had extensive training. So lets start with the basics.

We see color when light strikes an object and reflects back into our eyes. That’s why we see the stop sign as red and not blue. Although we perceive sunlight as colorless, it actually contains all the colors in the entire spectrum.When the light hits the stop sign, the pigments in the paint absorb all the other colors of the spectrum except the red. The red bounces off the surface of the sign into your eye which then sends a message to the brain and you hit the brakes.

When we talk about color we refer to its:

•Hue is the color itself (red),
•Saturation is the strength of the color (bright or dull), 
•Value is the lightness or darkness of a color (pastel or rich).

Seeing colors in these fundamental terms it makes the art of mixing and combining much more clear.

The easiest visual representation of these fundamentals is the color wheel. Sir Isaac Newton first developed the circular configuration of all the colors in the spectrum in 1666. Since then there have been many variations but they basically divide colors into 4 quadrants. Cool colors on one side with warm colors on the opposite; darker colors opposite lighter ones.

The basic idea is that any two colors of opposite sides of the wheel work well together. Any three colors equally spaced work well together as do any four colors forming a rectangle.

You use the color wheel as a guide to help you determine which colors work together to achieve your goal.

Monochromatic color schemes use a variation in value and saturation of a single color. Values are most easily thought of as a scale from 1- 10 with 0 being the lightest and 10 being the darkest. Saturation is the strength of a color, often determined by the amount of pigment and or how much “black” is present. Monochromatic colors easily work together and produce a soothing and elegant result.

Complimentary color is the most common scheme using colors of opposite hues (which will be on opposite sides of the wheel). Complimentary color has the most contrast because you will always end up with a warm color playing against a cool.

Triadic color schemes use three colors that are evenly spaced around the wheel. It offers strong contrast but appears very balanced.

So now that you have a basic idea of how to look at colors let’s discuss how you put them together.

Your final color slection makes the first impression. It is the first thing the client notices when she looks looks in the mirror after you’re finished. It’s the first thing people see when she leaves your office.

Getting the color just right is absolutely imperative. Not only do you need to know how colors react to each other, but also how those pigments react to skin tones or any existing color already in the skin.

The three primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. They are the only colors that can not be made by mixing any other dolors. Secondary colors are mixtures of two primary colors with hues half way between the primary colors used to make them. Tertiary colors result when you mix a primary and a secondary color.

In mixing black and white are not regarded as true hues but are used to effect the value of a color. Add black and the value gets darker (a shade of that color). Add white and the value gets lighter (a tint of that color). Be careful, black can act like blue; it will make green when mixed with yellow.

You can also darken a color by use of its complimentary color. This method gives you a much richer, and often even darker, color than by just adding black.. The problem is going to far. Mix too many or the wrong combination of colors and you end up with mud.

You must also consider the skin beneath the pigment. Using a cool color on warm skin tones and the end result may be a little duller than you had anticipated.

Any problem can be anticipated and planned for if you think about it ahead of time. And, like everything else, practice makes perfect!

More About Color Color Theory Made Easy by Jim Ames (amazon.com) Color Choices: Making Sense Out of Color Theory by Stephen Quiller (amazon.com) Interaction of Color by Josef Albers (amazon.com) www.colormatters.com