Request for information from a Cosmetic Tattooist in NSW
Question: I am confused about what is a warm colour vs. what is a cool colour, there is so much conflicting information about this topic, the ACT site has a chart that says that warm and cool colours are different to what I have learnt previously in art school.
Answer Provided: I would agree with you that the warm/cool publication on the link you provided is at odds with the mainstream view, not very helpful, and more likely to mislead you than anything else and appears to be a very confused idea about warm vs. cool.
The concept of warm and cool are introduced to cosmetic tattoo colour theory in an effort to simplify and help make colour choices a more intuitive process for the technician. If you use the term warm or cool in relation to colour it is fairly subjective particularly in relation to skin colours which are far removed from the primary colours no matter which colour model you prefer. Also I have yet to see any cosmetic tattoo pigments that come close to the primaries of any of the colour models which makes it more difficult for those tattooists who do not have an arts background to grasp the colour relationships particularly with mixing and colour correction.
For the above reasons it is important that any colour charts and colour concepts that are provided by tattoo trainers have a tangible relationship to 'outcomes' that will be of benefit the cosmetic tattoo technician.
Warm vs. Cool does not have any firm footing in modern colour theory but has its origins from paint artists who still sometimes use warm vs. cool in conjunction with the art primaries of Red, Yellow, Blue to assist them to make their colour mixing and painting an intuitive process.
Typically most artists consider the following colours to be warm or cool;
Warm: Red, yellow, browns and tans
(think warm sunny days, sunsets, fire, hot surfaces, skin that is flushed with shades of red/pink due to being hot)
Cool: Blue, green, blue violet, greys
(think cold overcast days, ocean colours, bluish white ice, rain clouds, skin that is chilled with shades of blue/mauve due to being cold)
The above divisions have a tangible relationship to our daily experience of thermal temperature therefore they are naturally intuitive for the majority of people, when concepts that involve perception match our natural intuition they can be much easier to grasp. Some artists have argued about the pivot point for the change in colour temperature but most seem to agree that the intuitive relationships between actual thermal temperature and our daily visible and tactile experience of warm and cool are the most sensible pivot points.
Enter the fashion industry: The fashion industry often use a completely different abstract view of warm vs. cool to help market clothing, for example autumn and winter colours seen in nature such as the colours of autumn leaves may be described as cool colours when used for selling clothes. Spring and summer colours seen in nature may be described as warm colours when used for selling clothes.
In the fashion industry with clothing you might have the counter intuitive situation where a bright green jacket is called a warm colour because it resembles the leaf of a tree in spring time and a yellow shirt might be called a cool colour because it resembles an autumn leaf (with no actual relationship to thermal temperature).
Even though it is not completely consistent with modern colour theory science there is at least some argument for Cosmetic Tattooists to continue using the paint artists view of colour theory using their primaries of Red, Yellow, Blue and warm vs. cool simply because they are very intuitive for most people and being intuitive it may assist with their selection of pigments and with colour correction.
But I agree I can see no logical argument for using the marketing terms used by the fashion industry, how could that possibly help a cosmetic tattooist with their understanding of the relationship between skin tones and tattoo pigments. Unless the concept of warm vs. cool is being used to help a cosmetic tattooist by using the intuitive colour model for colour temperature used by paint artists then it is just introducing an abstract idea that has no tangible relationship to tattooing at all.
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