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Pigment Information

Hansa Light Yellow

Hansa light yellow is our greenest yellow. The 10G rating refers to a scale used by pigment manufacturers indicating how close to green a yellow is. 10G means 10 steps toward green (compare with hansa medium yellow, rated 2G). Hansa is a monoazo pigment with a very clean hue. Ours is a transparent version of this pigment.

This grade of pigment has a lightfastness rating of “very good” although in acrylics it performs at the upper end of the “very good” category. It is slightly less permanent than, for example, benzi yellow, which has outstanding performance in lightfastness tests.

This colour combines well with phthalo green or phthalo blue to make very clean looking light yellow greens, or “lime” greens. Hansa light yellow works well as a ‘mixing primary’ in a three colour system, though not as well as benzi (6G) yellow, which is better able to reach the colours in the orange range. However, it is less costly than benzi yellow. It is often the best pick for a greenish yellow, which is indispensable for a good colour range.

 

 

Cadmium Light Yellow

An opaque light yellow made from genuine, chemically pure cadmium. It is more opaque than synthetic organic pigments in the same colour range. While it has excellent lightfastness, it is not weatherfast and is not recommended for use in outdoor murals.

For guidelines on safe usage see health and safety information for cadmiums.

 

 

Benzi Yellow

The full name for this pigment is benzimidazolone yellow. It has exceptional lightfastness, superior to any of our other organic yellows. The 6 G rating refers to a scale used by pigment manufacturers indicating how close to green a yellow is. 6 G means 6 steps toward green. (Compare with hansa medium yellow, rated 2G, or hansa light yellow rated 10 G).

Benzi yellow is the yellow that we recommend as a “process” yellow for use in three colour process work. It is close enough to green to make a full range of greens when blended with blue, yet is not so green that it cannot make good oranges when blended with red.

Benzimidazolones (also called benzi for short)  are one of the more recent pigment groups to come on the market. Although their performance matches and exceeds many other pigments in this colour range, benzi pigments are unfamiliar to the public in the form of a single pigment colour, yet are used by manufacturers of artists paint, where several pigments are blended to create a hue. For example “naples yellow hue” has been made from benzi yellow modified with earth tones and white.

 

 

Hansa Medium Yellow

Hansa medium yellow is made from the organic monoazo pigment yellow 74.

The 2 G rating refers to a scale used by pigment manufacturers indicating how close to green a yellow is. 2 G means 2 steps toward green. (Compare with hansa light yellow, rated 10G.) This pigment has many variations, some of which are not as desirable as this one is for artist’s purposes.

The large particle size and high quality of this pigment make it excellent in lightfastness while other variations in this chemical group have only ‘very good’ ratings. The colour, good flow properties and high hiding power make a paint that is similar in nature to the traditional chrome yellow. Chrome pigments are no longer in general use due to their toxicity and their tendency to discolour. Hansa medium yellow is a great choice for a mid yellow, especially if cost is a consideration. Cadmium medium yellow is worth looking at as a comparison.

This pigment has many variations, some of which are not as desirable as this one is for artist’s purposes. This variation is slightly reddish in colour and is often chosen because it is a “sunny” yellow that falls in the middle of the yellow range. This variation has very good hiding power, comparable to a cadmium or a chrome yellow pigment.

 

 

Cadmium Medium Yellow

An opaque mid-yellow made from genuine, chemically pure cadmium. It is more opaque than synthetic organic pigments in the same colour range. While it has excellent lightfastness, it is not weatherfast and is not recommended for use in outdoor murals.

For guidelines on safe usage see health and safety information for cadmiums.

 

 

Nickel Azo Yellow

Nickel Azo Yellow is an azo/nickel complex organic pigment which has a dull, brownish-yellow mass tone with a clean greenish undertone. It is very translucent with strong tinting power and excellent lightfastness. Because of its tinting power and translucency, it is very useful for glazing techniques and watercolour style washes.

 

 

Arylide Yellow

Arylide yellow is a monoazo pigment with a very reddish hue, almost orange. This colour is very translucent and has a surprisingly less orange undertone when used as a wash, a glaze or mixed with white. We have had this pigment available for a long time and have found it to be very useful, particularly for translucent glazing techniques or translucent washes.

Pigments like these started being produced in around 1910. Though we list this pigment as having “very good” lightfastness, it performs at the upper end of the “very good” category and is close to being “excellent”. It is a pigment often used in industrial coatings applications such as steel safety barriers or highway signs because it is priced economically yet can withstand outdoor conditions without fading.

 

 

Cadmium Orange

Typical of cadmium pigments, cadmium orange is very opaque, with a strong glow in its mass tone. This cadmium orange pigment is chemically pure, and is unique in mass tone because of its glowing radiance. It has a natural, weak undertone that is weak compared to high tech pigments. It has excellent lightfastness, but does not like moisture and so is not recommended for outdoor applications that rely on lightfastness, like outdoor mural painting.

For guidelines on safe usage see health and safety information for cadmiums.

 

 

Benzi Orange

The full name for this pigment is benzimidazolone orange; a synthetic organic monoazo pigment. It is a warm, slightly desaturated, opaque orange with excellent lightfastness.

Benzimidazolones are one of the more recent pigment groups to come on the market. Although their performance matches and exceeds many other pigments in this colour range, benzimidazolone pigments are unfamiliar to the public in the form of single pigment colours, yet are used by manufacturers of artists paint, where several pigments are blended to create a hue. For example benzi orange has been used to create “portrait” pinks blended with white and naphthol red.  

 

Cadmium Medium Red

An opaque, orange shade, mid red made from genuine, chemically pure cadmium.

Cadmium pigments are more opaque than synthetic organic red pigments, which are often used to imitate cadmium red. Cadmium red is an artificial mineral pigment, introduced in the 1920’s as a lightfast alternative to vermilion. When used as a tint and in blends cadmium reds create less clean, more “natural” hues than synthetic organic alternatives. This quality makes cadmiums particularly useful when blending colours to create realistic skin tones. Since there are not many lightfast red pigments suitable for artists use, and since we are capable of seeing so many nuances of colour in this area of the spectrum, cadmium has remained an important artists pigment.

While it has excellent lightfastness (better than naphthol reds), it is not weather-fast, and is not recommended for outdoor murals.

For guidelines on safe usage see health and safety information for cadmiums.

 

 

Naphthol Light Red

This monoazo pigment is a highly brilliant orange shade of naphthol red. This particular grade of naphthol pigment has been made to have much higher than usual opacity compared to other red pigments of this chemical group. Naphthol light red has an excellent lightfastness rating, performing at the top of its class, only moving down from excellent to very good in samples which have been made with pale tints using titanium dioxide pigments. This pigment has outstanding flow properties and brushability.

Naphthol light red is often used as the main pigment in blends that replicate the colour and opacity of cadmium red pigments in “cadmium red hues”. The undertone colour is cleaner than cadmium red of the same hue, with much higher tinting strength. It is also more economical in price than cadmium pigments.

Exposure to outdoor environments, specifically wet environments, will negatively affect naphthol’s lightfastness. (But will outperform cadmium red, as cadmium red should not be used in outdoor exposure).

 

 

Naphthol Medium Red

Naphthol medium red is a very clean mid red with a slight bluish undertone. It is a high tint strength pigment that is semi-translucent. It makes good glazes and and is useful for mixing transparent browns.

Naphthols are synthetic organic monoazo pigments and were developed in the mid-1960s. Since there are not many red pigments which are good enough for artist’s use, naphthols are very useful for achieving the full range of nuance in red (since we can see so much subtlety in this colour area).

Naphthols can be used as an alternative to cadmium reds as they are both less expensive and free of considerations of toxicity. However, as they are cleaner, they are less “natural” looking than cadmiums, especially when used in pale tints, and they are not as opaque.

This pigment is often the red used in industrial automotive finishes such as fire trucks. While naphthol medium red may look like a “primary” red, it is not magenta enough (or blue enough) in colour to make a clean looking purple when mixed with blue.

 

 

Cadmium Dark Red

Cadmium dark red is an opaque mid red made from genuine, chemically pure cadmium. All cadmium pigments are noticeably special... but the odd colour of cadmium dark red (dull bluish red) combined with it's extreme opacity make it one of the most unique cadmiums.  It is more opaque than synthetic organic red pigments, which are often used to imitate cadmium red.

When used as a tint and in blends cadmium reds create less clean, more “natural”, hues than synthetic organic alternatives. This quality makes cadmiums particularly useful when blending colours to create realistic skin tones. Since there are not many lightfast red pigments suitable for artists use, and since we are capable of seeing so many nuances of colour in this area of the spectrum, cadmium has remained an important artist’s pigment. While it has excellent lightfastness (better than naphthol reds), it is not weatherfast, and is not recommended for outdoor murals.

Cadmium dark red is an artificial mineral pigment, introduced in the 1920’s as a lightfast alternative to vermilion.

 

 

Quinacridone Red

Quinacridone red is a rich, bluish red that is translucent with very high tinting power and excellent lightfastness.

The quinacridones are a group of modern synthetic organic pigments introduced in the 1950’s. Quinacridone red can be used as a lightfast alternative to alizarin crimson and is the main ingredient in colours sold as “alizarin crimson hue”.

Quinacridone red is our recommended choice for three colour process work as it is able to mix both clean oranges and violets. The quinacridones make beautiful blends with earth tones and are useful in glazing techniques.

 

 

Benzi Burnt Orange

Benzi burnt orange is a modern synthetic organic pigment on the reddish shade of brown. It is very translucent with high tinting strength. It has both excellent lightfastness and weatherfastness.

 

 

Quinacridone Violet

Quinacridone violet is a rich, transparent red-ish purple with a very high tinting strength. The Quinacridones are a group of modern synthetic organic pigments introduced in the 1950’s. They have excellent lightfastness and are one of the only lightfast pigments available in this colour area. Quinacridone violet is less expensive than dioxazine violet, and has slightly better lightfastness. The quinacridones make beautiful blends with earth tones and are useful in glazing techniques.

 

 

Quinacridone Magenta

The hue of quinacridone magenta falls in between quinacridone red and quinacridone violet. When mixed with white, quinacridone magenta makes bright, clean “hot” pinks. They are translucent with a very high tinting strength and excellent lightfastness. Quinacridone magenta can be used in blends to make both oranges and violets, but is bluer than quinacridone red, which is closer to being a mid red. The quinacridones make beautiful blends with earth tones and are useful in glazing techniques.

Quinacridones are a group of modern synthetic organic pigments introduced in the 1950’s.

 

 

Ultramarine Violet

Ultramarine violet pigment is a version of ultramarine blue with a purple hue. While it is similar in colour to dioxazine violet, it has a far weaker tinting strength and is considerably less expensive. Because of its extremely high tinting strength, dioxazine violet can be difficult to work with, as it can overwhelm the other colours in a mix. Ultramarine violet is useful for subtle effects in glazing or watercolour type techniques, for example, painting shadows. It has excellent lightfastness.

 

 

Dioxazine Violet

The full name for this pigment is carbazole dioxazine. This is a modern pigment developed in Germany with a small particle size and extremely high tinting strength. In mass tone it appears almost black. When diluted with water or clear mediums it becomes a rich translucent bluish purple. It is ideal for use in glazing techniques. While it is an expensive colour, its tinting strength is so powerful that a little can go a very long way.

 

 

Paynes's Grey

Payne’s grey is a blend of ultramarine blue and carbon black that was introduced by an English painter and teacher William Payne. It is a useful way of having a colourful dark colour readily at hand. It is especially useful when darkening or desaturating colours without having to use a less subtle pure black. 

 

 

Ultramarine Blue

A reddish blue with excellent lightfastness; this is one of the most standard and important pigments for the artist.

The name ultramarine comes from the italian oltremare which means “from over the seas”. Natural ultramarine was originally made from rare lapis lazuli stone, mined in Afghanistan and treated in a complex and laborious process to rid it of its non-blue impurities. Ultramarine is now made artificially, and while it is chemically identical to the lapis derivative, it costs a fraction of the price, and is much more intense. Ultramarine blue is sometimes referred to as “french ultramarine” , a name that relates to its development in a contest during the 19th Century where it was first patented in France.

The pigment has very poor flow properties in oil paint, however, in acrylic they are fairly good. The paint sold by some manufacturers as ‘cobalt blue hue’ is usually made from ultramarine mixed with white. 

 

 

Cobalt Blue

Pure cobalt blue is one of the most expensive pigments that is used in artist’s colours. Our cobalt blue is genuine and pure, not a “hue” made by combining less expensive pigments. In cheaper paints it is often made by blending ultramarine blue with white. This blend achieves the mass tone hue close to cobalt, however this blend fails to match cobalt’s undertones. Cobalt blue was first discovered by Thenard in France in 1802, and has been used by artist’s since the 1820s.

It is a very opaque blue, with a light masstone (when compared to other blues). Cobalt pigment makes paint with beautiful flow properties, and is both very lightfast and weatherfast, with average tinting strength. 

 

 

Cerulean Blue

An extremely opaque light greenish blue. Made with pure pigment from genuine cobalt and tin oxides, not a “hue” made by combining less expensive pigments. It is a very lightfast and weatherfast pigment. The flow properties are terrific and all mixes made with it become noticeably more smooth flowing and opaque. Introduced as an artist’s pigment in 1870, its name comes from “caeruleum”, the latin word for sky. 

 

 

Cobalt Teal

This is genuine Cobalt Teal- an inorganic, synthetic, mixed metal oxide formed by the calcination of cobalt oxide and aluminum oxide. It is one of the most precious, and therefore expensive pigments available to artists. It is often imitated by mixing less expensive pigments (such as ultramarine, however never successfully as an exact match of the genuine hue as it has especially unique characteristics). It was first discovered by Thenard in France in 1802, and introduced as an artist’s colour in the 1820s.

Cobalt Teal has a greenish-blue hue and is an extremely opaque pigment with a very light mass tone (one of the lightest for blue pigments without the addition of white). Its opacity and light value give it a unique glowing mass tone, similar to the dayglow type effect of cadmium orange. It has average tinting strength similar to its relatives, cobalt blue pure and cerulean blue. Cobalt Teal has excellent lightfastness and weather fastness, making it suitable for outdoor applications.

Cobalt Teal displays a unique reading on the spectrograph as it displays two strong arcs, one at the intersection of blue/green and another spike in red. This has made the pigment very difficult to display digitally, and we disclaim that this one particular colour may appear differently on screen than in real life.

 

 

Phthalo Blue

The full name of this colour is phthalocyanine blue, though it is usually shortened to phthalo blue (and is sometimes spelled thalo blue). This modern organic pigment was invented in 1928 and because it is outstanding in all its properties it rapidly became an indispensable colour. Its colour is a full, intense greenish-blue. Sometimes called cyan blue, it is used in three colour process work. Its tint strength is very high to the point of being overwhelming to work with at times. In mass tone this pigment bronzes, which means that it gives the illusion of being a shimmery reddish blue. Phthalo blue and phthalo green blended together make a clean, beautiful turquoise. 

 

 

Phthalo Green

A very clean, transparent “emerald” green, with high tint strength and excellent lightfastness.

The full chemical name of this modern organic pigment is phthalocyanine green, and is sometimes called thalo green.

Phthalo green is similar in hue to the traditional viridian, which is not compatible with acrylic binders.

Phthalo green can be blended with yellows to make bright “lime” greens.

Phthalo blue and phthalo green blended together make a clean, beautiful turquoise. 

 

 

Permanent Green

Our permanent green is made from a blend of two pigments: hansa light yellow and phthalo green. While we generally formulate paint from single, pure pigments, leaving the blending of colours in the hands of the artist, the mid green colour area has less pigments available than most other areas. Because phthalo green has extremely high tinting strength, it can be difficult to work with, overwhelming the other colours in a mix. Permanent green offers a convenient starting point for creating hues in the mid green area. It is semi translucent and has extremely good lightfastness. 

 

 

Chromium Oxide Green

Chromium oxide green is a useful colour for landscape painters but is sometimes overlooked in other applications because of its dull shade.

This pigment has a very pleasing olive coloured green hue and has been in commercial use as an artist’s pigment since the 1800’s. It is a synthetic inorganic pigment made from metal oxides. Very opaque, it has fairly low tinting strength. Chromium oxide green pigment is often used in the making of coatings for tennis courts as it is both inexpensive and lightfast. Its opacity lends a unique quality to mixes, for example, chromium oxide green mixed with quinacridone red makes a very opaque brown with an unusual rich colour. It is a comparatively expensive colour compared to other dull earth tone colours, but inexpensive compared to other greens.

 

 

Sap Green

Sap green is traditionally derived from buckthorn berries (not lightfast) of varying degrees of ripeness. There are many versions of this blended colour on the market; ours is a transparent, high tinting strength earthy green composed of phthalo green, benzi burnt orange, and benzi yellow pigments. In its mass tone sap green is very dark, almost black. It’s most unique properties are shown in glazing techniques by experimenting with washes and tints using zinc white and clear mediums. Sap green is also a useful alternative to using less subtle black. 

 

 

Yellow Oxide

Also called mars yellow, this colour is from the pigment group, synthetic iron oxides, which also includes mars black, red oxide and violet oxide. These pigments are derived from the oxidation of metallic iron. Some paint manufacturers label paint made with this synthetic iron oxide pigment “yellow ochre”, though ochre is actually a naturally occurring mineral pigment that is similar in colour. This is an important colour for the artist when altering bright yellows to make them duller. Yellow oxide is an opaque pigment with excellent lightfastness, dull colour, and fairly low tint strength. For certain applications, its cousin transparent yellow oxide is a better choice such as when opacity is not desirable, as in glazing. 

 

 

Transparent Yellow Oxide

Transparent yellow oxide is a variant of yellow oxide. Because of its translucency, this version is more suitable in glazing techniques and watercolour style washes. It can be used in blends to desaturate clean translucent colours (such as phthalos and quinacridones) without affecting their transparency. This colour is from the pigment group, synthetic iron oxides, which also includes mars black, red oxide and violet oxide. These pigments are derived from the oxidation of metallic iron. 

 

 

Raw Sienna

Raw sienna is a natural brown iron oxide pigment that has a slightly translucent quality producing complex undertones of colour. Named for its original source; open pit mines near Sienna in Italy, it is a pigment that has been known since antiquity.

Raw sienna is a special type of ochre that contains a high proportion of silica (a translucent material).

This is a very useful colour for mixing and glazing with excellent light and weather fastness. It is great for water wash and staining techniques. Because it can be difficult to find good sources of this pigment, many paints of varying quality called raw sienna exist on the market which do not exhibit these good undertone and transparent qualities.

 

 

Transparent Red Oxide

A warm earth tone useful for glazing techniques. Transparent red oxide along with transparent yellow oxide are both ideal for desaturating transparent pigments such as the phthalos and quinacridones without diminishing their transparency. Their transparency allows subtle, warm undertones to be visible, creating more complex colours than their opaque equivalents.

The sienna pigments available today tend to be more opaque than those available in the past. This means that transparent red oxide and transparent yellow oxide can be seen as closer equivalents to historical raw and burnt siennas than today’s usually more opaque sienna pigments.

 

 

Burnt Sienna

Burnt sienna is a natural brown iron oxide that has a slightly transparent quality producing complex undertones of colour. Named for its original source; open pit mines near Sienna in Italy, it is a pigment that has been known since antiquity.

Burnt sienna is a special type of ochre that contains a high proportion of silica (a translucent material). When raw sienna is heated in a furnace it changes shade to give a fiery–red colour called burnt sienna.

This is a very good choice for glazing techniques, washes and staining, as well as a pleasing colour in mass tone applications. It makes great mixes with red pigments. 

 

 

Red Oxide

Also called mars red, iron oxide red and sometimes venetian red (although true venetian red has long been replaced with synthetic iron oxide). It is a very useful and low cost colour with incredible opacity and surprisingly high tint strength for a simple inorganic pigment. It has the best possible lightfastness. This colour makes attractive blends with quinacridone red and magenta. It is also useful for desaturating cleaner red colours without shifting their colour or darkening their specific effects and purposes however one should review the properties of bone black and carbon black pigments. (See choosing blacks article under the colour information option in the top menu).

 

 

Alizarin Crimson Hue

Alizarin crimson is a cool, bluish-red. Synthetic variations of the colour often appear quite bright. Our blend aims to represent its traditional dull reddish-brown mass tone, and bright, glowing undertones, which make up a complex character of orange and violet. It is a composite of modern lightfast pigments that are both transparent and have high tint strength. This colour is excellent for glazing and building up translucent layers.

The colour Alizarin was originally extracted from the madder root for artist’s use in 1826 and synthesized for greater distribution in 1868.

Alizarin was named after the Arabic word for madder used in the Eastern Mediterranean region, Alizari. Red of this kind has long been used by artists all over the world, from Egyptian tomb paintings, its presence in Greek and Roman art, to its association with the British Army’s red coat during the seventeenth century. Considering its global usage and popularity many renditions have been conceived throughout time.

 

 

Violet Oxide

This pigment is a type of synthetic iron oxide modified to have the most purple cast of brown. It produces very pleasing dull lavender colours and mixes well with white. It is a great mixing colour, especially with quinacridones. High tint strength combined with very high hiding power and low cost make this a very useful colour. It is often overlooked in favour of the more usual iron oxide red.

 

 

Burnt Umber

This is a modification of the raw umber pigment producing a much warmer more red brown. It works well for desaturating red pigments as well as being a desirable colour on its own. It exhibits better flow properties than raw umber and is very lightfast.

  

 

Raw Umber

Raw Umber is a natural iron pigment that has a large percentage of manganese in its composition. High grade raw umber has a pleasing yellowish cast, without being a reddish shade of brown. It is a semi-opaque and lightfast pigment.

This is a crucial pigment for modifying colour in that it darkens and desaturates a colour while only minimally shifting its hue. When blacks are used to desaturate colours, they tend to make reds look bluish, yellows look greenish etc. When placed beside other colours, raw umber can look greenish, reddish, or bluish depending on the surrounding colours thus making it a useful neutral pigment. When lightened with titanium white it makes a neutral grey hue. Its slight transparency makes it also useful in mixes for glazing, staining or washes.

 

 

Vancouver Grey

Each dated annual batch is a different grey varying from warm to cool depending on the range of colours milled through the year. Vancouver grey can be a very useful colour for subtly desaturating your mixes. Used in a composition, it shows off the surrounding colours, and is a beautiful colour in its own right. 

 

 

Raw Titanium

Raw titanium is a less processed form of titanium white pigment and is sometimes marketed as unbleached titanium or titanium buff. Titanium pigment begins manufacture in a black powder form and is progressively lightened using different bleaching processes until it is pure white. Raw titanium is characterized by a yellowish brown colour because it is not fully bleached out. This beige colour is particularly convenient in portraiture as a base for blending skin tones.

Using raw titanium produces very opaque blends and tends to give the paint surface an unusual enamel like appearance. The flow properties (which are how the paint feels and behaves when spread around or manipulated) are very smooth and fluid.

This form of titanium is very useful for colour mixing, especially when using a muted or “historical” palette by making it possible to make clean modern pigments appear more like their historical counterparts. Traditional mineral pigments are expensive and not always readily available – using blends of modern pigments with raw titanium is a very economical alternative.

Blending with raw titanium is a very effective and convenient way of reducing the saturation level of a colour (making colours duller) in a very precise and subtle way.

Modulating a colour using darker earth tone pigments to create colour matches or precise shades often results in overshooting and backtracking.

 

 

Iridescent Gold

 

Modern pearlescent pigments are made from powdered mica that has been bonded with metal oxides. Mica is a type of natural quartz, which occurs in the form of compressed thin sheets or plates that divide easily.

It makes a very translucent, shimmery golden paint that has weak tinting power.

Iridescent gold blended with earth tones such as the siennas make copper/bronze colours.

 

 

Pearlescent White

 

Modern pearlescent pigments are made from powdered mica that has been bonded with metal oxides. Mica is a type of natural quartz, which occurs in the form of compressed thin sheets or plates that divide easily.

The addition of Pearlescent white can create a metallic version of any colour. It is particularly effective when blended with transparent colours such as the quinacridones and phthalos. Silver can be made with pearlescent white mixed with black.