Lightfast Pigments in Oil Paints + Suggested Brands

SUGGESTED LIST OF PIGMENTS IN OILS

The pigments listed here are identified through their Color Index Number which describes their hue (pigment white PW, yellow PY, orange PO, red PR, violet PV, blue PB, green PG, brown PBr, black Pbk) plus an international identifying number that determines its chemical composition. Always the check the labels of artist’s paint tubes: if the pigment is not properly identified then do not buy it! Also, do not buy tubes of colours made with mixed pigments because you can make those mixes yourself.

Lightfastness ratings are also given (I for maximum lightfastness, II for moderately lightfast), together with mixes of pigments to avoid due to possible chemical incompatibilities. I eliminated fugitive colours such as Alizarin Crimson that SHOULD BE BANISHED FROM EVERY PALETTE!

The opacity of a pigment ranges from:

 opaque 1

 semi-opaque 2

 semi-transparent 3

 transparent 4

Opaque colours have high covering power and are generally best for bright highlights and thick impasto as well as scumbling.
Transparent colours are see-through and usually render much deeper shades, ideal as a glaze.
Always check the label of the tube of paint, as transparency or opacity can vary widely between brands even when when using a similar pigment. For maximum depth, we tend to build up our picture using transparent colours in the darks and opaque colours in the lights. For brightness of colour, always use the biggest brush possible with which you can achieve the detail you need. This focuses the painter on technique instead of finicky details. Also avoid smearing the paint back and forth with the brush: direct brushmarks tend to look brighter and cleaner than super blended ones.

The best available primary colours are magenta, cyan and  lemon yellow (not just red, yellow and blue – because there are many shades of these colours but only one shade of red, blue and yellow are true primaries). Aide memoire: the print cartridges in the colour printers are these colours! No ideal primary red or blue still exists, but the ones we have are already an improved version over Cadmium Red and Ultramarine blue that were recommended in the past.

Theoretically you can make all your colours using (1) lemon yellow, (2) cyan blue and (3) magenta. Winsor & Newton’s primary transparent colours are called transparent yellow (PY128), winsor blue green shade (PB15:3) and permanent rose (PR122 or PV19). Mixing equal parts of the three transparent colours together produces black. If you have a transparent purple (blue and red) and you add a transparent yellow (the opposite colour), it makes black. It seems counterintuitive. The beauty of transparent colours is that they absorb light in a way that resembles a jewel, so they easily create a feeling of added depth to the shades in your painting.
For opaque primaries, you can use Cadmium Yellow Lemon, Cobalt Blue and Magenta (no opaque version of magenta exists yet).  If you used an opaque yellow and an opaque purple, it would make a lighter colour (grey). The beauty of opaque colours is that they reflect more light and make brighter pastel tones (for very bright “non-natural” colours you may need separate colour paints, like a vibrant orange, a bright green and a bright purple).

I have included links to the the colour charts kindly supplied by Jim Harris (Gunzorro) who posted comparative tests on the WetCanvas website. Thanks Jim for going through all this work!

The oil absorption is indicated in grams of oil to 100gr of pigment. If you work in layers, the colours with less oil are best for underpainting and oilier colours are best for the last layers. Allow at least a week of indirect sunlight exposure between layers so each layer has time to dry properly before layering on top. If you prefer to work alla prima wet-on-wet, then painting fat over lean is irrelevant. Pigments fall roughly into one of the following categories:
a) Ultra low, 5-15g oil/100g.
b) Low, 15-30g oil/100g.
c) Medium, 35-70g oil/100g.
d) High 75-160g oil/100g.
e) Ultra high, more than 160g oil/100g.

Painters should be careful about paint toxicity. Although most modern paints are not as toxic as traditional formulations, I still avoid touching the paint or eating without throughly washing my hands. Of course, bitting or licking brushes is unacceptable!

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YELLOWS:

Naples Yellow: Lead Antimoniate (PY41) + Synthetic non-toxic version (Pbr24)

A heavy, semiopaque yellow that can be produced in about six shades, from greenish yellow to a comparatively pinkish orange yellow. It is very permanent when compared to the modern imitations.
Notes: Needs varnishing to protect from pollution or a balsam medium mixed with the paint. In watercolours do not mix with cadmium colours, ultramarine blue or ultramarine violet, as this colour is attacked by sulfur – although there is no evidence of this chemical incompatibility happening in oils. When it comes into contact with a metallic iron or tin or zinc, Naples Yellow becomes gray. It is advisable to use a horn or wooden spatula in preparing and/or mixing the pigment. If you take these cautions, it has the maximum lightfastness of a 8 wool scale, either as a mass tone, in tints with white or thinned as a scumble.

 Opaque 1
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Ultra low (10-15gr)
Oil Film: fast drying, tough, flexible. Good for underpainting and impasto. But my tests of Michael Harding’s version dried way too slow for impasto.
Recommended brand: Michael Harding makes the finest Genuine Naples Yellow Light 605 and Dark 606. Please note that his Naples Yellow 218 is a synthetic replacement using pigment PBr24, equally useful, opaque and much cheaper.
Colour comparison chart: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=550538

Azo Condensation Yellow (PY128)
A bright transparent yellow, a permanent alternative to Aureolin and Indian Yellow. Has no known toxic effects.

 Transparent 4, great for glazing
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low (41gr)
Oil Film: NA

Benzimidazolone Yellows (PY 151, 154, 156, 175)
These pigments increase hydrogen bonding to give greater stability and insolubility than any other azo pigment. However, it still has poor alkali resistance, has dull tints, and may be soluble in some organic solvents. The PY156 is said to have good outdoor durability in both full strength and in tints, which would make it the most durable of these advanced azo pigments. Azos are best used in full chroma as glazes to replace traditional pigments of known inferior lightfastness, such as aureolin.

 Semi-transparent 3

 PY156 is transparent 4 (great for glazing) and the most resistant pigment of this group.
Lightfastness: I but PY154 is perhaps just II. Better to use only PY156
Oil Absorption: Low to Medium (PY151: 45-52gr, PY154: 58-60g, PY156: 71g, PY175: 70g)
Oil Film: average, hard, fairly flexible

Cadmium Yellows: Cadmium sulfide (PY 35, 35:1, 37, 37:1)
Slow drying, especially if ground in poppyseed oil. These original “C.P.” or Chemically Pure cadmiums are more expensive, have higher chroma and tinting strength than the newer cheaper cadmium-barium compounds marked :1. (co-precipitated with barium sulfate). NOTES: Sulfides may react with lead and blacken. Therefore cadmiums may be best used with Titanium and/or Zinc whites, not with lead white. Although there is no evidence of reaction in oils, this pigment is chemically incompatible with Lead-Tin Yellow, Naples Yellow or Lead White. Some reports state that copper may react with cadmiums as well, causing concern in mixing with Copper Phthalocyanine blues and greens. Cadmiums may fade or chalk, especially in tints with white. This is more severe in the yellows than in the reds that contain selenium.

 Opaque 1
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low (17-21g)
Oil Film: average to slow drying, fairly flexible

Nickel Titanate: Titanium yellow (PY 53)
Substitute for the less reliable Barium Chromate (lemon yellow). When painting with Lead-Tin Yellow, Naples Yellow and Lead white, it can replace Cadmium yellow lemon without reaction (blackening) or fading. Greater weatherability than cadmiums but with a duller tint, more similar to Naples yellow.

 Opaque 1,  semi-opaque 2  or  semi-transparent 3, depending on manufacturer.
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low (around 15g, depending on composition)
Oil Film: average to slow drying, hard, fairly flexible

Green Gold: Nickel-azo yellow (PG 10)
Accelerated tests indicate that its resistance to fading is high, and it is expected to join the synthetic colours of superior permanence.

 Transparent 4
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low to medium (14-47g depending on manufacturer)
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

Nickel-Azo Yellow: Yellow 4G (PY 150)
A very greenish yellow of excellent lightfastness; however, may be slightly soluble in water and in some organic solvents. Creates a hard, fairly flexible paint film.

 Semi-transparent 3
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low (35-40g)
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

Nickel-Dioxine Yellow: Dioxine-Nickel Complex (PY 153)
A new generation organic pigment with excellent lightfastness. Dull tints. Tinting strength is less than the diarylides and it may be soluble in some organic solvents.

 Semi-opaque 2
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low (50g)
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

Mars Yellow: Synthetic Iron Hydroxide (PY 42) and Yellow Ochre: Natural Hydrated Iron Oxide (PY 43)
Brighter, clearer yellow brown, and several times stronger than ochre or sienna. Permanent with outstanding chemical and weather resistance, economical, with excellent opacity, low tinting strength and dull mass tone. Iron Oxides are said to screen UV light. The best natural yellow ochre sources are said to be from France and should be yellowish, not greenish.

 Opaque 1 (PY42) or  Semi-opaque 2 (PY43)

 transparent 4 also available, usually under the name of Transparent Yellow Oxide and great for glazing. Natural ochre can also be transparent under the usual name of Transparent Gold Ochre
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low (20-30g)
Oil Film: average drying, strong, flexible
Colour chart: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1416266&highlight=gunzorro

Colour chart Yellow + Gold Ochres: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=593839

Anthraquinone Yellows: Anthrapyrimidine yellow and Flavanthrone yellow (PY24, PY108 or PY112)
Transparent pigments of excellent lightfastness and weatherfastness, combined with good solvent and migration resistance. But Flavanthrone darkens considerably upon exposure to light and weather in full shades and deep shades, though it is totally permanent in very light tints.

 transparent 4, but avoid using it without mixing it with white and that makes the mix more opaque.
Lightfastness: I, much more permanent mixed with white than in full body.
Oil Absorption: Low (35g)
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

Isoindolinone Yellows (PY109, PY110)
High-performance pigments of excellent brightness and tinting strength, with comparatively good light- and weatherfastness, solvent and migration resistance. These heterocyclic azomethines produce greenish to reddish yellow hues.
PY109  Transparent 4
PY110 Varies with manufacturer  semi-opaque 2,  semi-transparent 3,  transparent 4
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low to medium (31-42g)
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

REDS:

Quinacridone Red: Permanent Rose, Permanent Magenta, Thalo Red Rose (PR 122)
A transparent organic pigment of excellent permanence, strong tinting strength and low toxicity, it is durable, lightfast, has high alkali resistance, is nonbleeding and exhibits high heat resistance. A blue red that makes wonderful pinks. A good replacement for the Red Lakes in the middle values. (Also PR 192, 207, 209) In use only since the 1960s. Quinacridone also comes in orange tones as PO 48 and 49 as well as the violet PV 19 listed below. Quinacridones are considered some of the most permanent dye-colors available.
Generally  transparent 4 (great for glazing)
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low to high (40-97g)
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

Diketopyrrolo Pyrrole Pigments (PR 254, PR255, PR264)
High-quality heterocyclic pigments offering fantastic heat stability, high coloring strength and hiding power and excellent light and weather fastness in a color range from reddish yellow to bluish violet. Can be produced as transparent or opaque color by controlling particle size in manufacture. In the reds, these are considered the most stable high chroma colors available; the best replacement for the fugitive Alizarin Crimson in a blue red.
Generally  semi-opaque 2
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low to high (40-97g)
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

Naphthol Reds: Permanent Red or Crimson, Naphthol AS-TR, Naphthol Crimson, Red F4RH. (PR5, PR7, PR9, PR14, PR112, PR119, PR168, PR170, PR188)
Organic blue-red pigment created in 1921. Naphthol descriptions can be misleading as several different pigments of considerably varying lightfastness may be found under the same description. Other Naphthol Reds include Permanent Red FGR (Naphthol AS-D: pigment red 112: bright red. aka Permanent Carmine or Red), Naphthol Carbamide (pigment red 168: blue-red), and Naphthol Red AS (B.O.N. Arylide: pigment red 188: yellowish red) which is resistant to fading in Flake White. Other ASTM approved Naphthol reds include PR 5, 7, 14, 119, and 170. This pigment family has excellent chemical resistance but varies in its lightfastness, especially in tints, and can be soluble in some organic solvents. As a coupling component it yields such well-known pigments as Toluidine Red and Dinitroaniline Orange that have solvent resistance, migration fastness and lightfastness comparable to the monoazo yellow pigments. The above pigment reds are better suited to artistic use.

 semi-opaque 2 to  semi-transparent 3
Lightfastness:
PR119 is I
PR112, 168, 188 are usually a I-II
Avoid PR5, 7, 9, 14 and specially PR170 as they can be fugitive.
Oil Absorption: Low PR112 (30g), PR5, 7, 9 (40g), Medium PR170 (40-70g), PR168 (74g) or high PR188
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

Anthraquinone Red: Anthraquinoid Red (PR 177) or Perylene reds (PR 123, 149, 168, 178, 179, 190)
Chemical type anthraquinone is an intermediate synthetic dyestuff derived from the raw material anthracene. It has excellent lightfastness properties in mass tone but is only moderate in tints, though still exceeding the performance of the azos.
Perylene Reds run the gamut from yellowish reds to bluish reds and showing good permanence in oil. They are good for glazing and possess very good tinting strength.

 Semi-opaque 2 (PR123, PR178, PR190)

 Semi-transparent 3 (PR149)

 Transparent 4 (PR168, PR177, PR179)
Lightfastness: I as mass tone but only II in tints. Best to use as a pure glaze.
Oil Absorption: Low PR123, PR190 (32g), PR179 (45g), PR149 (40-50g), PR177 (55g), PR168 (74g)
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

Brominated Anthranthrone: Dibromoanthanthrone (PR 168)
A Vat orange pigment with high transparency, very clean bright yellowish scarlet mass tone with good exterior durability that is used in the automotive industry in high grade paints. It is one of the most lightfast and weatherfast organic pigments known, even at very low pigment concentrations, making it useful in shades and mixtures despite its relatively low tinctorial strength. It is fast to alkali and plaster, allowing it to be used in fresco. It is dull in tints with low tinting strength and is slightly soluble in organic solvents. It darkens if applied as a thick mass tone layer. Said to be more permanent if mixed with a balsam medium or varnished.

 Semi-transparent 3 or  Transparent 4
Lightfastness: I if applied thinly or II in mass tone as it darkens. Add a drop of Canada balsam.
Oil Absorption: Low (74g)
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

Thioindigoid Red: permanent red (PR 88, 198)
Vat pigment with relatively clean reddish-violet color and excellent lightfastness properties. Slight bronzing in mass tone on exterior exposure and only slightly soluble in some organic solvents. Used in plastics manufacture.

 Semi-transparent 3
Lightfastness: I interiors or II exteriors
Oil Absorption: Low
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

Cadmium Oranges and Reds: Selenium Red, Cadmium sulfoselenide. Orange (PO 20, 20:1, 23, 23:1), Red (PR 108, 113)
Orange to deep red (becomes redder the more selenide is present). Cheaper but less chroma and increased toxicity in forms of cadmium-lithopones which are coprecipitated with barium sulfate. (indicated by :1)Although there is no evidence of reaction in oils, there is concern about mixing with Naples Yellow, Lead-Tin Yellow and Lead White and may, to a lesser degree, bleach out in tints with other whites.
NOTES: To be on the safe side, avoid mixing with colours containing lead. Best as mass tone, avoid tints with whites.

 Opaque 1
Lightfastness: I but avoid mixing tints from these colours
Oil Absorption: Low (17-20g)
Oil Film: slow drying, hard, fairly flexible
Colour chart (Cadmium Red Medium): http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=608748

Azo Condensation Reds (PR 144, 166)
Considering the superior permanence of Quinacridones and DPP reds, they should be preferred over Azos.

 Semi-transparent 3 or  Transparent 4
Lightfastness: I watercolour or II oils. Mixed with white they fade more. Use only as a glaze in full colour.
Oil Absorption: Low to Medium (65g)
Oil Film: NA

Benzimidazolone Red HFT, benzimidazolone maroon (PR 175)
A dull yellowish red monoazo pigment of high transparency. Exceptional chemical resistance, provides excellent lightfastness and weatherfastness, although it is slightly soluble in some organic solvents. It does not bloom and is completely fast to overpainting. Use it in full strength or as a glaze, because tints mixed with white might fade.

 Transparent 4
Lightfastness: I but might be just II if mixed with white
Oil Absorption: Low to Medium (45g)
Oil Film: Average drying, hard, fairly flexible

Isoindolin Red (PR 260)
This vermilion hued opaque orange-red is both lightfast and weatherfast in full shades, though it may darken slightly upon exposure and lose some of its gloss. However, this pigment “bleaches considerably in white reductions.” Use only pure as a glaze over dried colours.

 Semi-opaque 2
Lightfastness I in full mass tone, but fades in tints with white

Natural Red Iron Oxides: Mars Red (PR 102), Synthetic Red Iron Oxides (PR 101), Burnt Sienna (PBr 7)
Synthetic iron oxides are gradually replacing naturally occurring ones due to greater tinting strength and cleanness. All are absolutely permanent and have the same general properties as the natural red oxides. Inexpensive and weather resistant. Strong absorbers of ultraviolet light, excellent choices for oil painting. Transparent versions are also manufactured.
Burnt Sienna is a native clay that contains iron. Best pigment found in Northern Italy. Burnt Sienna is usually roasted Raw Sienna.
Oil Film: average to fast drying, hard, fairly flexible

 Opaque 1 Mars Red

 Semi-Transparent 3 Burnt Sienna (varies widely with source and manufacturer)
Lightfastness: I

 Transparent 4 also available, usually named Transparent red oxide.
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low (15-25g) but Burnt Sienna is Medium (60-80g)
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible
Colour chart Mars Reds (the second colour chart on the page):
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=607920&highlight=gunzorro+comparison
Colour chart Burnt Sienna + Transparent Red Oxides:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=560435

VIOLETS:

Cobalt Violet (PV 14)
The best overall violets for permanence.

 Semi-opaque 2
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low (16-24g)
Oil Film: fast drying, hard, fairly flexible
Colour chart: http://s25.photobucket.com/user/gunzorro/media/IMG_5966cobaltvioletweb.jpg.html

Ultramarine Violet, Ultramarine Red or Pink (PV15)
Very permanent with adequate tinting strength, but may have incompatibility with lead white.
NOTES: Avoid mixing with Lead-Tin Yellow, Naples Yellow, Lead White as it might discolour.

 Semi-transparent 3
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low (33-56g)
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

Manganese Violet (PV16)
Moderately dull colour, often used as an inexpensive substitute for Cobalt Violet Deep.

 Semi-opaque 2
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low (23-26g), excellent for underpainting.
Oil Film: fast drying, hard, fairly flexible

Quinacridone Violet, Permanent Magenta (PV 19)
Permanent and resistant to fading, to alkalies and to heat. Very permanent glaze color.

 Transparent 4
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low to Medium (44-70g)
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

Dioxazine Purple, Carbazole Violet (PV23)
Transparent blue-violet that is lightfast and with good to excellent solvent and migration resistance. Due to its cost, it is mainly found in highest quality artists’ colors but, due to its higher fastness in this hue, rapidly becoming a standard violet pigment, replacing the less fast lake pigments. Lightfastness is slightly affected in tints with white.
Listed as  semi-opaque 2 but in reality it renders wonderfully deep glazes of  transparent 4.
Lightfastness: usually II (depends a lot on manufacturer, redder hues might be more permanent than bluish) and slightly more fugitive in tints.
Oil Absorption: Low to Medium (35-94g)
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

Mars Violet (PR101)
Highly permanent in all techniques. Often used by figure painters in place of Indian red, this pure iron oxide produces soft lavender effects from its muddy dull violet color.

 Opaque 1
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low (15-25g)
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

BLUES:

Phthalocyanine Blue: Thalo Blue, Monastral Blue, Winsor Blue (PB 15 and 16)
Transparent bright greenish blue to reddish blue, it has excellent tinting strength, durability and lightfastness. In addition, it is relatively nonbleeding with high chemical and alkali resistance. It is composed of a tightly bound (and thus stable) chemical structure, and is considered to represent the best combination of properties available in any pigment class. A modern replacement for Prussian Blue with which it shares a bronzing effect and, in tints with white, the Cobalt blues. Commercial varieties include the reddish blue; the greenish blue; and the reddish blue. It might fade if mixed with Cadmium colours, although that has not been proven to happen in oils.

 transparent 4
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: PB16 Low (35-45g), PB15 Low to Medium (35-78g)
Oil Film: (PB 15) average to slow drying (PB 16) rapid drying, hard, fairly flexible.

Cobalt Blue: Kings Blue, Thenard’s Blue. Cobaltous aluminate (PB 28)
High temperature calcination of mixture of oxides of cobalt and aluminum. True cobalt blue has a hue like Ultramarine but with a top-tone considerably lighter and an undertone more green than violet or reddish. Cobalt, left unvarnished, will become whitened with age. But it is restored upon varnishing. (If a good varnish cannot be applied before sale, it may be best to avoid true cobalt. It can be replaced by less expensive mixtures of white and the red shade of Phthalocyanine Blue.)

 semi-opaque 2
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low (25-37g)
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

Ultramarine Blue (PB 29)
Complex polysulfide of sodium alumino-silicate. It is a synthetic equivalent of lapis lazuli, but brighter, with a higher tinting strength and inexpensive. When ground in oil, ultramarine normally has one of the most difficult painting consistencies of any of the pigments and tends to make paints of erratic and usually stringy nature; it is therefore much diluted with waxes and other stabilizers by the makers of colours who require all their paints to have the same buttery plasticity. However, artists who grind their own colours in pure oil or use unadulterated paint brands find that they are able to paint with it in a stringy (long) form, especially since it is so often mixed with white or other colours that impart a more normal consistency to it. It is a beautiful pigment, which mixes easily toward the violet side of the palette. It is practically as permanent in oil and watercolour as is the natural material, lapis. A variation produces Ultramarine Green. Due to sulfur content it is incompatible in watercolour mixtures with Lead-Tin Yellow, Naples Yellow or Lead White. – although there shouldn’t be a problem with oil paints.

 semi-transparent 3 or  transparent 4
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low (25-40g)
Oil Film: average to slow drying, fairly hard, somewhat brittle – best to use on rigid boards
Colour chart: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=593844

Cerulean Blue: Cobaltous stannate (PB 35), or greenish Cobalt Chromite (PB36)
A semi-opaque light greenish sky-blue of very good permanence. Quick drying. True Cerulean is expensive but has great solidity and hiding power and is absolutely permanent.
Cobalt chromite blue-green spinel (PB 36) is not too different in hue to cerulean blue 35 although perhaps slightly brighter, is of outstanding chemical and light stability and is one of the strongest, cleanest, and brightest inorganic pigments.

 semi-opaque 2
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low (15-25g), good for underpainting
Oil Film: average to fast drying, fairly flexible

Indanthrone Blue: Indanthrene Blue, Anthraquinone (PB 60)
A violet blue that could be a lightfast substitute for Indigo (although Rublev sells an indigo Maya Blue claimed to be lightfast). Very good permanence and tinting strength to this transparent color while having minimal toxicity. It is even more weatherfast than copper phthalocyanine pigments, especially in light tints. Indanthrone blue is highly durable even in light white reductions and of high tinctorial strength, though weaker than the excessively intense phthalo blue which is of similarly reddish blue hue. PB 60 shows very good fastness to organic solvents. PB 60 is fast to acids and alkalies, and is heat stable up to 180 degrees Celsius. This exceptional permanence recommends it for industrial purposes with long-term exposure. Printing inks made of PB 60 are used to print banknotes.

 transparent 4
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low to medium (37-45g)
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

Prussian Blue: Milori Blue, Paris Blue (PB 27)
A strong tinting strength green-blue mineral (ferric ferrocyanide) color. It is said to fade somewhat in mixtures with white, but in general it is fairly permanent. The more permanent Phthalocyanine blue (PB 15, 16) can replace it today.

 transparent 4
Lightfastness: I in mass tone or II in tints with white
Oil Absorption: Low (45g)
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

GREENS:

Phthalocyanine Green: Thalo Green (PG7 and PG36)
Chlorinated copper phthalocyanine PG7 is a bright blue green. A yellower shade PG36 is obtained by replacing some of the chlorine with bromine. Like Phthalocyanine Blue, it has very strong tinting strength and is very permanent with high chemical resistance and lightfastness straight or in tints. It might fade if mixed with Cadmium colours, although that has not been proven.

 Transparent 4, ideal for glazing
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: PG7 is Low to Medium (22-62g), PG36 is Low (24g)
Oil Film: average to slow drying, hard, fairly flexible

Oxide of Chromium: Chromium Oxide Green, Chrome Oxide (PG 17)
Chromium sesquioxide is a dullish yellow green, it is extremely opaque and very permanent, being the most weatherfast green pigment available – it was used to print US$ notes. It makes an excellent green for landscape painting.

 Opaque 1
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low to medium (12-43g)
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

Viridian: Vert Emeraude, Transparent Oxide of Chromium (PG 18)
Hydrated Chromium Oxide is a transparent color of relatively weak tinting strength best used for glazing. Outstanding permanency.

 Transparent 4, ideal for glazing
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Medium (90g)
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

Cobalt Green: Cobalt Titanate Green Spinel: Light green oxide (PG 50)
A mixed metal oxide of calcined cobalt and titanium. An absolutely permanent, lightfast pigment of low-intensity color and weak tinting strength. A pale to dark yellowish green with a bluish undertone that is difficult to match by mixing.

 Semi-opaque 2
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low (16-20g), good for underpainting
Oil Film: average to fast drying, hard, fairly flexible

Green Earth (PG 23)
A native clay colored by small amounts of iron in magnesium. Occurs in many localities, the best varieties being found in small deposits or pockets. The best European grades are known as Bohemian (pure green tone), Cyprian (yellowish), Verona (bluish), and Tyrolen (similarly bluish, but dull). It is quite transparent and of extremely low hiding and tinctorial power; therefore, it is of slight value as a body color in opaque oil painting but is used in glazes and as a watercolour wash. It was popular in Italy from the earliest recorded times, especially in tempera and fresco painting. Stable in all media and with all other pigments. May darken if oil or varnish penetrate the particles.

 Semi-Transparent 3 (but it varies widely, depending on the source and manufacturer)
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low (20-30g)
Oil Film: slow drying, soft, flexible

BROWNS:

Raw and Burnt Umber (PBr 7)
An earth consisting chiefly of a hydrated oxide of iron and some oxide of manganese, used in its natural (Raw) state as a cool brown pigment (aka Sicilian Brown, Terra Ombre, or Turkey Brown) or, after heating (Burnt), as a warm brown pigment (aka Spanish Brown). Occurs in Italy but the best grades are said to come from Cyprus (Turkey Brown or Umber). Burnt Umber contains slightly more oil than Raw Umber.

 Semi-Transparent 3 (varies widely with source and manufacturer)
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Medium (60-80g). Although it’s not a low oil content colour, it can be used to underpaint as it dries very quickly
Oil Film: fast drying, hard, fairly flexible
Colour chart comparison (the second chart on this page, in blackish browns):
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=560435

Mars Brown (PBr 6)
A color variation of synthetic iron oxide. Absolutely permanent and has the same general properties as the other pure red oxides. Outstanding chemical, heat, and weather resistance. Low tinting strength.

 Opaque 1
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low (28-43g)
Oil Film: average to fast drying, hard, fairly flexible

BLACKS:

Mars Black: Black Iron Oxide (PBk 11)
Created by oxidation of ferrous hydroxide followed by calcination. It is a very dark brownish black (from the Iron), yielding warmer tonalities of grays in mixtures with white than do the other carbon black pigments, and it is also a better drier, is nongreasy, and develops good, fairly flexible paint films in oil. A good black for underpainting.

 Semi-opaque 2
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low (15g), good for underpainting
Oil Film: average drying, hard, fairly flexible

Ivory Black: Bone Black (PBk 9)
The most commonly employed black pigment, it is made of carbon, calcium phosphate, and calcium carbonate, calcium sulfate, or other impurities. It has a brownish undertone as compared to the vine black series, but is cooler than Mars Black. Made by charring animal bones or (originally) ivory scraps which make it finer, more intense, and of a higher carbon content than bone. It is light and fluffy, but less so than Lamp Black. It takes up considerable oil in the grinding process (making it less suitable for underpainting), and it dries slowly, creating a soft, brittle film. It serves well as an all-around black and tinting color in mixes, but it’s not good when used pure. It is the only member of the impure carbon group that is recommended as a permanent artist color. However, it is one of the worst pigments to use full strength or in nearly full strength as an undercoat in oil paintings: a film of any other pigment laid over straight ivory black is extremely likely to crack. It is probably better to use Mars Black for underpainting and Ivory black for glazing mixed with a fat medium to add flexibility.

 Semi-opaque 2
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Medium (50g) but too slow drying to use for underpainting
Oil Film: slow drying, soft, and brittle. Use some flexible medium with it.

WHITES (INCLUDING THE RESULTS OF YELLOWING TESTS):

Flake White: Cremnitz White, Lead White. Basic Lead Carbonate (PW 1)

Yellowing test: Michael Harding “Cremnitz White #1” (PW1), Gamblin “Flake White Replacement” (PW6), Dave Corcoran “Fake White” (PW5+PW18+PW6)

Lead white creates a tough, lean, flexible film, has good tint resistance and opacity and is very permanent. The lead also aids in the drying of oil colours with which it is mixed. Lead poisoning is accumulative but basic precautions prevent “painter’s colic.” A coat of varnish over the dried film prevents darkening from contact with sulfur in the atmosphere. Although there is no evidence of adverse reactions in oils, this pigment is chemically incompatible with Cadmium colours, Ultramarine Violet or Ultramarine blue because it may darken. Its flexibility makes it very good for priming.

 Semi-Opaque 2
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Very Low (10-15g), excellent for underpainting
Oil Film: very fast drying, hard, flexible
Recommended brands: This pigment has been discontinued due to its toxicity. The only true Lead white I’ve tried, by Michael Harding, yellowed horribly – it also had an excess of oil that kept dripping from the tube. Unfortunately, the other two replacements tested above also yellowed considerably. On the other hand, a true lead white gives more flexibility to the paint film. If you still have an old tube, then use it mixed with a top quality Titanium white to mask its yellowing. I suggest you leave your white paints on blotting paper for a few minutes to absorb the excess of oil and reduce the yellowing of the painting.

Titanium White (PW6)

Yellowing test: Roberson (PW6), Lefranc & Bourgeois (PW6+PW4), Mussini (PW6+PW4).

Yellowing test: Williamsburg (PW6), Blockx (PW6), Old Holland (PW6), Michael Harding#2 (PW6)

Gradually replacing Flake White. Early pigment formulations did have problems with film strength so it was always mixed with zinc oxide. Some older documents warn that Titanium does not react with oil to create a mixed paste, so it is less likely to mask yellowing of the oil. Modern pigments have been produced with greater film stability, resisting well the effects of heat, light, and atmosphere. It possesses the highest tint resistance of any white, is the most opaque, and, in its present form, it is very permanent. But the pigment still creates slow drying and brittle films.

 Opaque 1
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Low (18-30g)
Oil Film: slow drying, brittle
Recommended brands: from the tubes tested above, only Lefranc & Bourgeois, Mussini and Blockx stayed white over time. I suggest you leave your white paints on blotting paper for a few minutes to absorb the excess of oil and reduce the yellowing of the painting.

Zinc White: Chinese White, Snow White, Zinc Oxide (PW4)

Yellowing test Winsor & Newton: W&N Underpainting White (PW6+PW4), W&N Transparent White (PW6+PW4)

It is a brilliant cold white that is very stable, but it dries much more slowly than lead white. It creates a hard, brittle film which should not be used for priming or layered painting techniques as it creates one of the least elastic oil films. It is acceptable for alla prima painting and is recommended for the impressionist or sketch artist who wants a brilliant white. Unlike lead white, zinc does not yellow when it comes into contact with sulfur fumes. The pigment might not change, but its transparency will reveal the yellowing of the linseed oil. It creates a hard, brittle film of soapy crystals that can chalk and speed the appearance of fading in organic colors, though it is said to be stable in mixtures with inorganics. In mixtures with Titanium it is said to be beneficial, making the paint more weatherfast. It does absorb UV radiation (used in sunblock) which may reduce the effects of UV on paint film deterioration. It is the most transparent of the available white pigments.

 Semi-Transparent 3
Lightfastness: I
Oil Absorption: Very Low (10-22g) but too brittle for underpainting
Oil Film: very slow drying, hard, brittle, only acceptable for alla prima technique on rigid boards
Recommended brand: not recommended, it’s transparency tends to reveal the yellowing of the oil paint. Very brittle, it tends to delaminate.