After the first two primary colors, here is the last BLUE ... The other primaries have already been commented here are the direct links:
To know the abbreviations used in the samples as well as my bibliography (in progress and will be updated soon, use the following link:
The color of the sky and yes in all its states, pure or reflected in water, there are few elsewhere ... some flowers like forget-me-not or more purple like wild hyacinths or violets.
Blue is the coldest color and is often associated with winter. In watercolor, the shadows in the snow are often painted in diluted blue. Blue is used for both the sky and the shadows (heritage of the Impressionists) or to tone down reds and greens.
Blue is one of the most used shades in painting, reason to have many different shades of blue in its palette.
In antiquity and Renaissance period, the blue used was the original ultramarine, which was made from the semi-precious stone Lapis Lazuli. This process was already known by the Egyptians, who used it to adorn the sarcophagi of the Pharaohs. Medieval and Renaissance painters used it for the dress of the Virgin and also skies seen in the Sixtine Chapel in Rome.
The price of the pigment could far exceed the price of gold! Currently, Schmincke and Daniel Smith offer watercolorists a color made from the pigment of Lapis Lazuli, but they do it from crushed stone and not from the traditional extraction based on the purification of crushed stone to extract lazurite, process based on the peculiarity of hydrophobicity because only lazurite is water soluble. It should also be noted that lapis lazuli harvested in South America has a lighter shade than that of Afghanistan.
But this is history, yet in the near future we should see, for the first time, for almost 2 centuries, a new non-toxic and inorganic blue pigment, very intense and completely resistant to light, Blue YInMn.
Discovered in the laboratories of the University of Oregon by Professor Mas Subramanian, the first limited outings are done at Matisse Acrylics under the name of Oregon Blue in Crayola under the name Bleutiful. The research continues to create new colors including other primary and secondary using other compositions. Blue is made from Manganese and replacing this component with others like copper etc will provide other colors. Of course, research is concentrated on finding new pigments, less toxic than cobalt, zinc or cadmium, the discoveries will certainly change the art world in the decades to come ...
Here is the link to a professor's presentation
Now back to our colors...
We see that there are significantly fewer blue pigments today that there are reds or yellows.
Yes, we can not find Smalt, Indigo Pure or Manganese Blue (often because of their ecological or economic impact) and we tried to imitate these shades with Phtalo blues.
Note that blue, even with a single pigment, can vary from turquoise blue (dominant green) to purplish blue (trend red and warmer)!
Table of properties of watercolor paints composed with blue pigments
The PTHTALO Blues
This pigment is often found with the blue names preceded by the brand name of the manufacturer (especially for PB15, PB15: 1 and PB15: 3 pigments) cfr. Winsor Blue, Blockx Blue...
This blue is very intense and a little delicate in mixtures (it takes very little to change the color and you have to be careful because it dominates the mixtures very quickly). It is therefore advisable to add very little to the other color of the mixture or to use a lot of water to dilute it.
They are distinguished in different shades; PB15: 1 and PB15: 6 are medium blue to warm blue with a reddish sub-tone and PB15: 3 has a green sub-tone.
Different manufacturers do not mention the subtype and mention that the base pigment PB15 ... There is a big difference between the colors even from the same manufacturer, as well regarding the level of the staining force, at the level of the chroma and the variation of the sub-tones. The fineness of the particles makes that there are a lot of differences in hue.
PB15 • Copper phthalocyanine •
Very staining and very intense (Strong coloring power) blue with a very good transparency. It has one excellent resistance to light. The variation of tones between different brands, even between different formulations of the same brand, makes it necessary to test these paints before deciding which ones are suitable for you.
PB15: 1 Copper Pthtalocyanine
Intense dark blue with a reddish undertone. Otherwise same characteristics as the PB15
PB15: 3 Copper Pthtalocyanine
Intense blue approaching a cyan blue or neutral with a greenish sub-tone. Otherwise same characteristics as the PB15. Blues in watercolor paint based on the pigment
PB15: 6 Copper Pthtalocyanine
Deep dark blue with a reddish or greenish sub-tone varying between brands. This shade is not unlike some Outremers. Otherwise same characteristics as the PB15.
PB16 Pthtalocyanine without metal.
A greenish blue, intense and dark. Otherwise same characteristics as mentioned in the description of PB15.
PB27 ferricyanide named Blue Steel and later Prussian Blue
Discovered in 1704
This pigment is semi-transparent, staining and of a very dark colorimetric value. Its resistance to light varies very strongly. We can see a partial degradation varying between the marks at first but which stabilizes afterward.
The drying variation is between 5 and 30%. This shade is increasingly competing with the Phtalo blue which has better resistance to light.
PB28 Cobalt Oxide • Name: Cobalt Blue
Cobalt Blue is very light resistant, semi-transparent and has a medium staining strength. It is a shade that has a dark value and is moderately in terms of its intensity. It granulates or flakes but to different degrees according to the marks. This is an expensive pigment, which explains why Fine or Student paints replace them with "shades" often created from Phthalo Blue or PB29. The variation during drying is about 10%.
PB29 Sodium Aluminum Sulfosilicate - Ultramarine Blue
The PB29 was discovered by the industrialist Lyonnais Jean-Baptiste Guimet in 1826. Before, Lapis Lazuli was used to produce this shade that came beyond the seas (Afghanistan).
The PB29 is very light resistant, semi-transparent and staining and of a very dark value. It is a purplish blue and the warmest blue approaching a bluish violet. According to the manufacturer, this pigment creates granulations or not. The variation of tone during drying is between 15 and 25% Some brands offer dark ultramarine, which is darker and more reddish. There are noticeable differences between hue and behavior by brand.
PB33 Barium Manganate sulfate • Manganese Blue
PB33 Manganese Blue is very light-resistant, semi-opaque and slightly staining. In a medium tone it is a greenish blue of medium intensity which is very granular. The variation during drying is of the order of 10%. Currently this pigment is no longer produced because of its impact on the environment.
PB35 Cobalt tin oxide • Cerulean Blue
Highly light-resistant, semi-opaque shade of moderate staining strength. It produces a beautiful granulation. It is a deep mid-value blue. Its variation on drying is of the order of 15 to 22%. There is a wide variety of nuances between different brands.
PB36 Cobalt magnesium oxide • Cerulean Blue
Highly light-resistant, semi-opaque shade of moderate staining strength. It produces a beautiful granulation. It is a blue of a deeper and more intense value than the PB35 Its variation in drying is of the order of 5 to 14%. There is a wide variety of nuances between different brands.
PB60 Indanthrone (Aminoanthraquinone + potassium Hydroxide) • Indanthrone Blue
PB60 has a very good near excellent resistance to light, this blue is semi-transparent or transparent, a very dark value quite dull. According to the brands, there is a difference in the sub-tone that varies from neutral to purplish. The variation during drying is very important ranging from 20 to 30%.
PB72 & PB74 Cobalt Zinc Aluminate / Cobalt Silicate - Dark Cobalt Blue
Dark Cobalt Blue varieties are all very light resistant. Semi-opaque, with a medium staining strength and a very dark value these shades (PB72-PB74) undergo a slight variation in drying of about 10%. It is a deep blue rather neutral which produces a beautiful granulation.
PB82 Pigment inspired Maya Blues a mixture of organic component and inorganic.
Used only by Daniel Smith who gives it a very good lightfastness, semi-transparent, slightly staining a trendy blue color green and a dark tone to very dark. The Blues Without Information on Used Pigments Watercolor blue with PB80 pigment Daniel Smith
Other Blues without information about the pigments used
There are significantly fewer new pigments for blues. The upcoming arrival of the YInMn can change the game. It can be seen that currently, manufacturers are increasingly tending to create shades with Phtalo pigments.
Because of their impact on the environment (Manganese Blue) or their toxicity (Cobalt, Cyanides ...), we do not have much choice. Even Ultramarine Bleu can cause health problems when mixed with paints made of chromium ... Yet it is this color that allows us to mix greens and purples.
It is therefore indispensable in each palette. Although we have a lot of nuances in Phtalos ranging from turquoise to purplish blue, the problem with Phtalo is that they are very staining and very concentrated ... So we must learn to use them in small doses in your mixtures and glazes.
Which blues then choose?
- The PB15: 3 very close to cyan, but you have to check because the color varies according to the manufacturers.
- The PB28 significantly less staining than the PB15, it is not as transparent but gives a nice granulation.
- The PB60, but choose your brand because the subtones vary from greenish to purplish, while those of Lukas, Mr. Graham and Da Vinci are the most neutral.
- PB27 is a very deep blue, but you have to choose the brand because not everyone is equal in light resistance.
- PB35 & PB36 apart from its semi-opacity we like it or not its granulation and light staining strength. The blue manganese, today only available in "Hue" made with Phtalo pigment, very staining but transparent.
- Naturally, Ultramarine Blue PB29 which is semi-transparent, staining and vibrant
- Some warmer shades of the PB60 that have a slightly purplish tone, transparent to semi-transparent, very staining and less dazzling but darker than the PB29.
You see, it's not easy to find a blue, suited to certain techniques and most importantly, do not look for a transparent, non-staining glow, because there is none today. Will the YInMn change the game? The future will teach us.
I wish you to find the blues that suit you. I am now starting to prepare the secondary, oranges, purples and greens. I'm not going to do as for the primaries. Beside the pure pigments, I will also show how to get them from the primaries and comment on my observations.
If you need more information and / or you have any questions or comments, feel free to comment on this article or to send me your questions via the contact form.