I took the time to ask myself this question “What would be useful for both beginner and advanced watercolour painters."
So I came up with ideas to deepen the composition of any watercolour painting according to the chemical composition of the pigments used in their creation. It is really a big world and quite difficult to condense , so that it will be easy readable for all my subscribers and followers.
As I already had more than 800 painted samples of different brands, I gave myself the task of concocting a digest of what is the other world of watercolour. Since it's too big, I decided to do a series of articles taking into account the main color. So I got to work and decided to deliver the articles first by analysing the primary colours (yellow, red & blue), then the secondary colours (orange, mauve & green) adding last earth colours and black.
But to move faster, and show progress, I will update the article for several days or weeks before it is complete.
The information in this article and those to come are based, not only taking into account my tests and studies, but also by consulting a lot of books and websites. I will publish my links and bibliography in a separate article later.
As the first article of this set we will deepen the composition and characteristic of the yellow Hue.
Below you find a summary of the most common pigments. Admittedly, this list is not complete, but treats the mono-pigmented paint of the shade. If subsequently, I find other pigments, I will update this list regularly.
Observations concerning the table of characteristics;
Regarding the pigment used; it is internationally abbreviated name. To better understand, a quick summary. The first letter P is the abbreviation for pigment. The letter (or letters) indicates the color, unfortunately the abbreviation used comes from English. Y means yellow, R means red, B means blue, O means orange, V means purple, G means green, Br means brown, Bk means black and W means white. Follows the number to identify the pigment.
Concerning the trade name: I use here the name most recognised among the brands that I own. Different brands use different names and thus a lemon yellow can become a transparent yellow or a yellow Winsor. This is the importance of knowing the pigment composition used in your paintings, because a PY3 will remain this pigment even if the trade names differ. This will allow you to replace one brand color by another from a different brand.
Regarding the resistance to light; here I use four levels of resistance then of very resistant, Resistant, little resistant and non-resistant.
Regarding transparency; here I use four levels ranging from transparent to semi-transparent then semi-opaque to finish opaque.
Regarding the tinting force; the tinting strength relates to how fast the paper holds. A tingling paint will anchor itself in the fiber of the paper and it's going to be very difficult to remove. Opening blanks becomes almost impossible. But other hand a tinting paint to this advantage, using the technique of glaze, not to mix with the upper layers. I used 4 different degrees to qualify it; non-tinting, slightly-tempting, moderately-tinting and tinting.
Regarding the strength of granulation; to qualify the force of granulation, I use three degrees; no granulation, slight granulation and granulation.
Regarding the tonal variation or dry shift: According to the availability, because not having a spectrophotometer analyser, I indicate here the percentage variation between the dry state and the wet state of a painting with this pigment. So you can get an idea of how much your color will loose in hue and saturation when drying.
It goes without saying that all these criteria can change according to the brand and even from one bath to another. My findings are based on the samples I painted with different paint brands.
On the other hand, to allow the good reading of the samples, I indicate below the abbreviations that I use to indicate the mark of the watercolour paint used.
DR Daler Rowney
DM Dr. Ph. MARTIN
DS Daniel Smith
DV Da Vinci
MG Mijello Mission Gold or MMG
OH Old Holland
PM Dr. Ph. Martin
S Schmincke suivi de T = tube suivi de G ou P = Godet
SE Sennelier suivi de T = tube suivi de G ou P = Godet
SP Saint Petersburg White Nights
SHP ShinHan Professional Watercolours
R Rembrandt by Talens
VG Van Gogh by Talens
W Winsor & Newton suivi de T = tube suivi de G ou P = Godet
WN Winsor & Newton suivi de T = tube suivi de G ou P = Godet
Below is an explanation of the areas used in the watercolor color samples.
The information is what i found on manufacturers' color charts. You can see that it is not always correct. Especially at the level of transparency / opacity there is an opportunity to review this position.
All the samples were painted on Fabriano Academia paper, a 100% cellulose paper of 240g glued outside and in the heart. This gives you a homogeneous overview. Note that if you use a paint on another paper, be it 100% cotton, mixed or cellulose, there will certainly be differences, in both hue and characteristics.
I will detail all the pigments noted in the table above. It is true that there are others, but either they are no longer available or used, where they have less interest in creating works of quality and longevity.
As with all primary and secondary colours, each family has cold, neutral and warm shades. In principle, it is very difficult or impossible to find neutrals in watercolours. But the approximate hues will be classified in the neutrals indicated by the reference color.
We start with:
Hansa Yellow G.
The light resistance of this pigment is low. As a result, most brands have abandoned this pigment in favor of PY3 / PY35. The watercolours made with this pigment are opaque and tinted and non-granulating. This pigment is still used in lower quality paints because the pigment is cheap.
These watercolours have a tendency to tarnish and brownish when exposed to the sun. Therefore I strongly advise you to avoid them.
Hansa Yellow Light also named Lemon Yellow
Depending on the brand, the light resistance varies from resistant to moderately resistant. This pigment is very clear and does not allow much variation in the shade. Most paints made with this pigment have a greenish tendency. During drying , the shade darkens slightly and loses some saturation.
This yellow is a good choice as a primary yellow in a trendy greenish in a landscape painters palette. It is a very interesting yellow in a mixing base to obtain greens. But if you prefer a yellow a little more neutral, it’s better to choose a painti based on PG97 or PY154.
Attention, it seems, based on my different readings, that these yellows can have a tendency to brown or tarnish if exposed to light. If you use this pigment, I advise you to test by exposing a sample to the light for at least a few weeks.
Cadmium yellows are made from cadmium sulphide. It is a yellow with a green tendency if combined with zinc sulphide. This watercolour is semi opaque, tinting and very clear. Normally cadmium is very resistant to light. It clears only slightly when drying between 2 and 15%. Depending on the purity of components other than cadmium (such as zinc sulphide or barium sulphate) the light resistance may be impaired.
One note: Cadmium is toxic. No problem though using this watercolour painting, but avoid getting in direct contact with it.
Potassium Cobalt Nitrite
It is a transparent yellow, lightly staining, very clear but intense. The big problem with this pigment is that it is very unstable to light and has a tendency to get become greyish or brownish after exposure to the sun. As a result, many manufacturers have opted to produce a "new" Aureolin using pigments such as PY97 (better light resistance and transparency) or with modern pigments such as PY150, PY153 or PY110 as a deep yellow.
My advice ; avoid this pigment if you can and opt for another transparent yellow pigment.
Synthetic Iron Oxide Yellow - Yellow Ochre Denomination in Most Brands
Sorry that I put this pigment in the yellows because many brands classify them in earth colour. But since the pigment is called PY (abbreviation of English P = Pigment Y = yellow ), I think it is more appropriate to include it here.
This paint is opaque and staining that variates from a light hue to a moderately dark one. Very resistant to light. By modifications, the manufacturers can change the color of this pigment from a semi-opaque orange-yellow to transparent yellows.
My advice: test your paintings because some can be quite opaque and therefore have a tendency to create muddy colours in mixtures.
Yellow Iron Oxide (Limonite) - Yellow Ochre
Normally, PY42 and PY43 are classified as so-called earth pigments. But as they wear the Y (Yellow = Yellow), I prefer to list them in the yellows.
It is a yellow pigment very resistant to light. Semi-transparent to semi-opaque, this pigment does not dye or dye a little. This color is quite dull and varies in tone according to the different brands ranging from a more greenish hue to reddish one depending on the brands.
As with PY42, this pigment has a tendency to tarnish mixtures by making them muddy. This pigment has been used for several centuries. Currently, many artists prefer to use shades of quinacridone gold which has a shade a bit more orangey, but it is transparent and can be adjusted by mixtures. Sight lack of transparency, this shade is to be used as a last touch, but not as background, because the glazes will be dull in watercolour and so do various mixes with this colour.
Nickel Titanium Oxide
PY53 is a pigment with excellent lightfastness, it is semi-opaque, staining and very clear. Like many other yellow pigments, the paint only lightens slightly as it dries.
Yellow Acrylide or Hansa Yellow Dark
A very light-resistant pigment that produces a semi-transparent watercolour paint, very staining and light valued with a dominant to orange. It is therefore a warm yellow. Alternative to Dark Cadmium Yellow. The paint clears by about 14% by drying.
It is the most saturated yellow pigment ideal for smacking warm, intense yellows. Check the transparency of your colours with this pigment, because according to the brands, there are differences in opacity / transparency.
Hansa Bright Yellow
According to the brands, the resistance to light varies from permanent to weak. The watercolour paint, composed of this pigment, is semi-opaque, moderately staining and has a clear value.
Yellow Diarylide HR
According to the brands, the resistance to light varies from permanent to weak. The watercolour paint, composed of this pigment, is semi-opaque, moderately tinting and has a clear value. This paint makes it possible to obtain a vibrant yellow and hot orangey hue. This pigment comes close to the PY65 and is a little less orange than the PY153.
Acrilyde Yellow FGL Hansa Yellow
The watercolour made with this pigment is very resistant to light. It is an intense yellow slightly warm. The drying variation is limited with a variation of about 10% of saturation. According to the marks the Hue varies between almost neutral until becoming a little more reddish.
Yellow Anthrapyrimide - Indian Yellow or Gamboge
This pigment produces a watercolour with good resistance to light. Semi-opaque and moderately staining with a light value, the watercolour tends to turn brown after exposure to the sun. This hue comes closest to the initial gamboge.
Only a few manufacturers offer this pigment in their range of watercolour paints.
Up to now, I have not found one yet, so I do not have any samples to attach.
It is very resistant yellow to yellow light, the watercolor paint made with this pigment is transparent, moderately staining of a light valued. It loses around 10% of saturation when it has dried. It is a yellow-orange that tends to disperse well in an application in the wet.
Zinc magnesium ferrite - Mars yellow - Yellow or brown Spinel
The characteristics of this pigment is its excellent resistance to light exposure. Very opaque (depends on the manufacturer) and slightly staining and has a dark value. This earthy yellow pigment is close to its burned ones even when it is classified in the yellows. His opacity brings him much closer to Venice's Red.
Copper complex azomethine - Golden Green - Azo Green
It is a watercolour of excellent lightfastness, semi-transparent, tinting of average value producing a dull yellow. It dries more than 30% lighter than in its wet state. Very diluted, it produces very transparent yellows, ideal for glazes.
My opinion: It is also a very interesting yellow to create greens because it is already a little dull and will produce very subtle nuances, natural and vibrant without becoming garish.
Isoindoline Yellow: Permanent Dark Yellow (MaimeriBlu)
I do not have single-pigment samples of this pigment. MaimeriBlu is the only one to produce this pigment and I only have it in two blends (Cotman & MaimeriBlu).
The watercolour produced with this pigment is very light resistant, semi-transparent and moderately staining, of a clear value.
Nickel Yellow Azomethine: Transparent Yellow - Nickel Azo Yellow
Nickel Azomethine Yellow is an excellent resistant yellow, transparent and moderately staining. Without granulation and an average value, this painting, a hot orangey yellow, looses nearly 15% of its saturation on drying.
My opinion: By its transparency and quality of excellent resistance to light it is a watercolour that allows a lot of variations. It must be in the palette of painters who love to use the technique of glazes.
Yellow Benzimidazolone: Modern Auréoline - Azo Yellow
The yellow pigment Benzimidazolone is very light resistant, semi-transparent and staining, of light value the drying produces almost no loss.
My Opinion: M. Graham’s Azo Yellow Aureolin is for me one of the most beautiful achievements of a neutral yellow. By its ability to adhere to the fibers it is an ideal color as under-painting so that it can be covered by a glaze without risking too much unwanted mixtures.
Nickel yellow Dioxin
It is a yellow pigment of a very good to excellent resistance to sunlight. Semi-transparent, slightly staining, non-granulating and of a clear value. This hot orangey yellow pigment is moderately active in wet application and has a strong tendency to create blooms. The paint brightened slightly as it dried.
My opinion: According to brands transparency varies, as is the case for many other pigments. Note that Schmincke's Orange Yellow is nearly transparent compared to Daniel Smith's New Gamboge (indicated as semi-transparent is more opaque or even semi-opaque).
Some reader noticed, and sorry i painted the swatches quite a while ago and before the issue, that the pigment used in Schmincke's Yellow Orange is PY110 and not PY153 as mentioned on the swatch here below. Sorry for this. I found out before and contacted Schmincke. They confirmed that the pigment used is PY110 and not PY153 as printed on the 2 tubes i own. They assured me that they will change it asap when stock runs out...
Yellow Benzimidazolone H3G: Light Azo Yellow - Yellow + Brand Name
It is a pigment with excellent lightfastness, semi-transparent, staining and of a clear value. It does’nt change but slightly when drying. It is an excellent primary yellow without greenish or reddish tendency even if its base is a little greenish.
My Opinion: An interesting yellow to produce vibrant mixes with blues and Phtalo green.
Yellow Benzimidazolone H6G: Permanent Yellow - Lemon Yellow Winsor
Yellow Benzimidazolone PY175 has a very good lightfastness. It is semi-transparent, of a very clear value with a greenish tendency thus cold. On drying, there is only a slight variation.
My opinion: This pigment has a very clear value and not very saturated, so we limit the dilution and opacity mixtures. The created greens have an artificial appearance. Use only if you need a lemon yellow because this pigment is more resistant to light than the PY3.
Bismuth Vanadate: Yellow Bismuth
This pigment PY184 is quite resistant to light (become a little brownish after some hundred hours of exposure), semi-opaque staining and of a very clear value. There is very little saturation loss during drying.
Titanium Zinc Antimony Stannate - Turner's Yellow
This complex is of a good luminous permanence, semi-opaque and moderately staining. It has a clear value that translates into a pretty dull orange yellow.
Very few manufacturers offer this pigment.
My Opinion: This hot yellow, which I find hard to find in the paintings of J.M.W. Turner, has this property to translate a mixture of gouache and watercolour. So why not do like the big master.
Another mythical color in the yellows is the YELLOW OF NAPLES
This color is very opaque due to the use of white pigments in its composition. As a result it produces a colour that is quite difficult to handle, but for some creations it is very important. Reserved for the advanced painters, other wise the mixtures will ruin a painting.
Here are the samples of the various brands
Find here samples with pigments not commented or those whose manufacturers have not communicated the name of the pigments used. (Too bad that Kuretake, despite my interventions with them did not communicate their compositions to me.
Yellow for me is, heat, summer, and conveys a feeling of lightness and happiness, it brings clarity and vibrancy to our watercolours. But which ones to choose? And for what reason ? I give you my personal opinion, unpretentious, so you make your own analyses and opinions.
The big problem with watercolours is that even though the manufacturers say they are transparent, it is very difficult to find one that is not semi-transparent at all.
Its low chroma value makes yellow yield very quickly to other colours in mixtures. One tip: if you want to mix a yellow with another color, always proceed by putting the yellow first on your palette and add little by little, with another brush, the second color. As a result, you will find that it does not take much of the other color to vary your yellow.
What is also important is that the yellow gets dirty very quickly. Try never to take yellow from your palette with a brush that is contaminated with other colours. A yellow palette is not so easy to clean ...
LOOKING FOR PERFECT YELLOW
The Neutral Yellow:
Traditionally, many artists use the Aurelian PY40 as a neutral yellow, but this hue tends to become slightly brownish after exposure to the sun and loses its vibration and tints slightly gray.
As a result, two possibilities are at our disposal with the most recent pigments PY74 - PY97 - PY 151 - PY153 & PY154. Naturally, it is necessary to choose, because the shades are different according to the manufacturers. A notion for the PY93 The Yellow Sophie Sennelier is one of the most beautiful yellow, slightly cold and my base color for a lot of paintings.
The Cold Yellow:
As for the yellow Aureoline as the neutral, the choice is Lemon Yellow PY3. The PY3 also has a tendency, but less than the PY40 hue, to tarnish or even become a shade of brown gray at sun exposure. I recommend the PY175 which is significantly more resistant to light.
For landscape painters consider adding to your palette the yellow PY129, which is excellent for varying the colours of the earth and creating interesting green.
The Warm Yellow:
It's easy enough to get a warm yellow with a neutral yellow and adding some warm red to it. But there are a lot of yellow pigments that can give a stable base for your mixtures. The PY110 and some variants of PY150 and PY153 can intervene in this shade called Gamboge or Indian yellow.
PY42 and PY43. Although the PY42 is synthetic and the PY43 natural, the difference lies in the stability in quality and impurities of these paints. Yellow Ocher and Sienna are often seen as essential in watercolour.
Yet it's easy to reproduce mixtures close to these hues, with the advantage that they are transparent. As a result, I rarely use them. Especially because I do not like their opacity which makes, in case of pronounced use, produces dull works. Mixtures with these yellow earth colours also produce, very quickly, muddy and opaque mixes. Never mix 2 opaque colours as the result will be quite disappointing and soulless.
The advantage is that these pigments are often granular and add as such texture.
Often used as yellow in the sky, because it does not green in contact with blue, but neutralise itself. My opinion is that it is better to use a cold red or even a pink between yellow and blue and so this will give more depth to your skies.
It's up to you to see if you put these ochres in your palette, but I will not add them them.
Now that you have samples of a lot of yellow pigments used in different brands, it's up to you to choose which ones are right for you.