Wheel of Fortune

The Geek

Grand Master Geek
Staff member
With Custom Colour Blending being the ultimate rage (and in my opinion the ultimate necessity) for the next generation of nail artisans, many are scrambling around crazily looking under wrists, behind ear lobes, consulting the mystical colour orb to ask:​

"Am I warm or cool and WTF does the colour wheel do anyway?"

To understand custom colour blending, it is essential to first understand the underlying principals of mixing pigments.

Primary Colours

Primary colours are colours that can not be created by mixing other colours together. In essence, they are the core colours when mixing pigments.
The primary colours are:
  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Blue
Secondary Colours

Secondary colours are those colours created by mixing 2 primary colours together.
  • Orange (Red + Yellow)
  • Green (Yellow + Blue)
  • Violet (Blue + Red)
Tertiary Colours

Tertiary colours are those colours that are made up by mixing 1 primary colour and 1 secondary colour.
  • Red Orange
  • Yellow Orange
  • Yellow Green
  • Blue Green
  • Blue Violet
  • Red Violet
You could go on - but why beat the coloured horse any harder than we already have?

[break=Wheeling on!]Neutralizing

If we hearken back to the colour wheel for a moment, you may notice one colour that seems a little left out. Brown. Brown is a special colour we shall dub Mr. Neutral. Where exactly does Mr. Neutral appear on the colour wheel? Smack dab in the centre really.

Ever wonder what a complimentary colour is? Wonder no longer! A complimentary colour is a colour exactly opposite itself on the colour wheel. For instance, Blue's complimentary colour is Orange, Red's is Green, Yellow is Violet, etc...
An odd thing happens when you mix complimentary colours... They effectively turn to Mr. Neutral (Brown). The importance of this can not be stressed enough. If you want to neutralize an undesired tone: just add some of the complimentary colour!
If your mix is too violet, just add a little yellow to reduce it. However the violet just doesn't disappear, it turns to brown which can deepen and darken the mix.

Pulling colours

Its not always necessary (or even desired) to simply neutralize a colour and increase the brown level of the mix. Sometimes all you want to do is nudge the colour one way or the other.
For instance, lets say we have a cool (violet or red-violet) mix and we just want to make it a bit warmer by making the colour a bit more red.
Instead of neutralizing the mix with yellow and then adding more red, simply jump 2 colours over.
Too violet? Want more red? Add orange (orange pulls violet toward red).

Tints versus Shades

Lets not get into the age old debate over whether white/black is a colour or not. Think of them not as colours, but rather as colour adjusters.

When you add white to a colour, you tint it (lighten it). For instance Pink is simply a tinted red (achieved by mixing Red + White). When you add black to a colour, you shade it (darken it). For instance, Burgundy is simply a shaded red (achieved by mixing Red + Black).

What temperature is your colour?

Flip your clients wrists over and stare at them. Stare at them long enough and you will go insane trying to figure out if they are warm or cool.
Now try the scarf method. Take a gold scarf and wrap it around your clients neck. Now try a silver one. Now go back to gold, no... wait!! Double check that silver one again. You will want to strangle your client with an array of gold and silver scarfs after 5 minutes using this method.

Warm tones are colours on the wheel spanning red to yellow-green (including Gold) and cool colours are those spanning red-Violet to green (and silver).
Want the easiest way to find out what your client THINKS looks best on them without strangling them with a scarf or staring at their wrist?
Look at the colour of jewelry around their hands.
Most people will gravitate to wearing mainly gold (warm) or mainly silver/white gold/platinum (cool).
This is by no means the end all be all to determining their warmth or coolness - however it does show you what they feel looks best on them. Why contrast with their jewelry anyway ;) ?

At the end of the day you are trying to:
  • Compliment the clients skin/nail tone
  • Contrast the clients skin/nail tone
Contrasting is the least desired approach. When you contrast the clients nail, it screams 'LOOK MY ENHANCEMENT IS GROWING OUT' within 5 minutes of applying it.
99.999999% of the time - you will want to compliment the clients skin tone which 99.999999% of the time means matching the custom blend to the colour of the natural nail. That way, there is no strong line of demarcation as the enhancement grows out.

Regardless of whether you are creating a warm or cool mix, you are usually working within a very limited portion of the colour wheel (when creating custom blended powders for Zone 2 and Zone 3 of a Forever French enhancement).
  • Red-violet for cool
  • Red for cool and warm clients
  • Red-orange for warm clients
In the near future I will put up a tutorial specific on recipe's and mixing approaches that I use. Till then, this theory will have to get you started ;)



Shopaholic Geek
Bloomin heck, that made my brain ache!! (not that it's takes much)

Thought you explained that really well, at least now i have some idea what everyone is going on about when it comes to custom blending.

Something else to print off and try and figure out eh!

Just Jo

Creative Geek :)
WOW! Good stuff Mr Sam
I shall be devouring this til you put up the recipes ... I have dabbled and mixed but so far I am getting me screaming ...

"Contrasting is the least desired approach. When you contrast the clients nail, it screams 'LOOK MY ENHANCEMENT IS GROWING OUT' within 5 minutes of applying it." Only been doing it on me so far though so me screaming is not so bad eh since I have such angry red damaged bottom bits ;) lol

I am loving the custom blending :)
Jo xx


Well-Known Member
WEll i thought i was confused before now i am even more so, need to get my head round this its like being back at school
cheers Sam lol


Brush Slayer Geek
You're a superstar :D


Well-Known Member
Fantasic.Really makes your brain do over time though.Where can i get a colour wheel?


Well-Known Member
WOW you described that so well. Now when I look at a colour wheel, I will know how it works :D. Ive not done any custom blending yet but this is certainly going to help when I do.



Thanks Sam. Please hurry with the rest.


Truly, Madly Geeky...
This is brilliant Sam - so what I needed because yes draping scarves around clients' necks is a bit of a drag isn't it!

Cant wait for the recipes and mixes tutorial next.


Well-Known Member
Wonderful Sam, you made a hard subject and turned it into English ;)


Malamute Geek!
excellent stuff Sam! It makes sense (I think) I havent even mastered pink and white yet! lol x


Well-Known Member
Thanks for that but my brain aches so I'll print it out for later!

talented talons

Master Artist
This is a great post, i've never had it explained as simple as this before. Quite easy when you get the hang of it. (in theory as i haven't dabbled yet....)

I'm waiting in anticipation for the next instalment.

Diana Williamson

New Member
you wouldnt believe i spent yesterday afternoon over at my sisters talking about color theory ,she is an artist and she helped me a great deal now i find it here hey ho see all you guys at exbo Monday xxx


CND Shellac Ambassador
This is fab, I cant wait for the rest now xxx
Great Job there Grand Master Geek xxxx


New Member
Thank you much Sam! Very well explained and presented, that was very easy to read and understand. The illustrations were also very good, reminded me of College Basic Design class. Oh, by the way, I saw your pic in Nails Magazine, nice shot, good article!

Diana Williamson

New Member
I am assuming these blends are being added to pink/clear and do they come out opaque like the flawless ;) ;) or clear?might sound thick ,going to exbo on monday will pick your brains there xxd


New Member
Cheers for that! It cleared up something I've just spent 6 months trying to get my head around - now to put it in practice:eek: here goes.


Lelli Loo Loo
Blooming Fantastic :cool: Oh I could read your stuff all day lol

Northern Nails

Well-Known Member
Mmm....it sounds so easy!!...NOT.

Sometimes things sound more complicated when spoken out loud....don't you think?!!