Watercolor Pigment Brands:

  • Holbein - Japan. contains many colors that are not found in other watercolor lines. Does not contain ox-gall or any other dispersants that inhibit optimum brush handling qualities. Ideal for japanese watercolor tradition where brushstrokes are preserved. perfect for fine detail work.
  • Sennelier - French. contains honey for a smooth consistency and luminosity. Honey helps the paint stay wet longer on the palette and makes it easier to reconsititute if it has already cured.
  • Winsor and Newton -
  • QoR -
  • Daniel Smith -
  • Grumbacher -
  • Van Gogh -
  • Da Vinci -
  • Schmincke Horadam Aquarell -
  • Blockx -
  • Rembrandt -
  • Daler-Rowney -

Pigment Types:

  • Cakes - contain glycerin,

  • Pans - more glycerin than cakes, available in full, half and quarter pans,

  • Bottles - not usually lightfast and highly concentrated,

  • Tubes - creamy texture easier to use when creating washes and covering large areas


Pigment Color Index (CI):

  • Color Index (C.I.) is the international standard code for each pigment. It states whether a color has been mixed from a single pigment or more than one. It is best if the color is created from a single pigment.

    • C.I. helps clarify the same name, different manufacturer ordeal. even though each manufacturer produces their colors from different pigments. conversely, colors made from the same pigment may be given different names by separate manufacturers.

    • Pigment Key

      • PY - pigment yellow

      • PO - pigment orange

      • PR - pigment red

      • PV - pigment violet

      • PB - pigment blue

      • PG - pigment green

      • PBr - pigment brown

      • PBI - pigment black

      • PW - pigment white


Color Characteristics:

  • Staining vs. Non-staining - does your paint color sit on top of the paper or sink deep into the fibers?

  • permanence / lightfastness - paints ability to withstand exposure to light and humidity without fading, darkening or shifting color.

    • look for the ASTM rating on the packaging and accept nothing less than "excellent" or "very good"

  • transparency / opacity

    • opaque -

    • semiopaque -

    • translucent -

    • transparent -


What is the difference between professional and student grade pigments?

professional-grade tubes have less filler and more color.


Misc. Information:

  • all cadmiums are compatable

  • Mixing Browns: There is no need to buy browns. you can create similar colors by mixing Phthalo Blue with Quinacridone Burnt Orange.

  • Protecting the white of the paper

    • In transparent watercolor, keeping the white of the paper pristine is a major goal. Because white paints are rarely used, sparing the white of the paper and using very light-value colors are the way both white and light are best expressed.

      • avoid the white/light areas by painting around them

      • using artists tape for straight lines

      • using frisket, masking fluid or wax resist to protect any shape you want

  • black - the banned color

    • avoid muddy darks. Clear, transparent, non-muddy darks are essential to a good painting. If you need to go darker, use colors that are the darkest values of their particular hue or color.

      • Alizarin Crimson + Phthalo Green

      • Brown Madder + Antwerp Blue

      • Burnt Sienna + Phthalo Blue

      • Alizarine Crimson + Ultramarine Blue + Phthalo Green