A method for selecting the optimal shade of a ceramic restoration is presented. The shade is determined using a direct approach, facilitating communication with the laboratory. The dentist generates a custom shade tab using unfired dental porcelain powder mixed with an organic binder which has a refractive index that is adjusted to the fired material. Hue, chroma, value, and translucency are verified by direct comparison with the tooth to be replicated. Necessary adjustments are ascertained prior to fabricating the restoration, minimizing postfabrication alterations.