The Color of Art - Making Paints & Pigments

Pigments Properties, Making Paints, Medium Recipes, Pro Artist Paint Color Charts and Free Art Books

Paint Making And Pigment Making for the Artist

Making Paint



Making Pigments



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It's hard to believe all the art information available on the internet. I have searched and found hundreds of free art books & e-books and put them on my free art books page to save you the time of hunting them down yourself. Some of these are the original books with the recipes and secrets of the old masters themselves. There are many books on making pigments, lakes, and mineral pigments including pigment chemistry and historical pigment production techniques.
Check Out my new free art book reference resource page with lots of free information on arts of all kinds and it's all FREE! Yippy!
Making Paint:   ^Top

Rather than reiterate what others have already done very well, I will mostly just put my own experiences and experiments here. I have also assembled some links to some great and informative paint making sites that have far more detail instructions on grinding and mulling your own paints than I have time to create.

For Pigment Information Sorted by Color Index Name Click Here


Some links to paint making information: ^Top

Natural Pigments
has a Step by Step guide to grinding water color paints.
they also have hard to find historical and earth pigments for sale, as well as additives and paint making tools. an excellent site covering all aspects of making paint

Sinopia has a small step by step page as well as hundreds of modern pigments, historical pigments, and additives for sale

The Society of Tempera Painters has useful information and a step by step example.

Paint Making And Color Grinding by Charles L. Uebele. pub.1913 now in the public domain.


Experiments : ^Top

Water soluble oils:

The current water soluble oil paints are not quite up to the standards of a real artists paint, so I tried mulling my own. i used both Dou water mixable linseed oil and Lukas water soluble linseed oil to grind the paints. I added a small amount of Dorlands wax medium as a stabilizer, which didn't seem to effect the water solubility at all. The results were indistinguishable from regular artist grade paints and actually better than most.

Making Pigments:   ^Top

These recipes are for research and study only. I have not tested them and make no claim on the accuracy of these pigment formulas. I do not recommend anyone try to make these. I am not responsible for any damage or injuries by any attempt to produce these pigments. All chemicals and pigment powders can be toxic if not handled correctly. Wear respirator and protective gloves and clothing. Chemicals and pigments should only be handled in strict laboratory conditions away from food, pets and children.

mortar and pestle for grinding paint pigmentsPigment Synthesis Links:   ^Top

MIT Chemistry Videos, video lessons in lab procedures useful for anyone attempting to make your own pigments. has pigment info and some excellent detailed step by step pigment making instructions:
Madder  Cobalt Blue  Indigo  Prussian Blue  Smalt Ultramarine Blue  Verdigris Cobalt Green  
Viridian Cobalt Yellow  Lead-Tin Yellow  Naples Yellow

J C Sparks' pigment info pages have historical and pigment making information.

The Household Cyclopedia has much info on paints

The Chemistry of Art, from the University of Sydney

Chemistry & Art, from Sewanee University

mortar and pestle for grinding paintPigment Manufacturing Recipes and Info:   ^Top

Earth pigments and "Found" pigments:

Many things have the potential to be made into pigments. Most localities have colored earths, minerals and clays that are virtually the same as store bought earth pigments. They simply need to be pulverized, levigated and washed. There are also many unique colors and minerals in many locations.
Dyes, plant juices and other colored liquids may be able to be precipitated on to Aluminum Hydrate to form lakes. Although most dyes and plant colors are fugitive, some may be found that have acceptable light fastness. Only actual experiments can tell if a new substance will be acceptable as a pigment.
Other things can be made into pigments as well. Possible candidates for pigment experimentation could be pulverized bricks, colored glass, pottery, rust scrapings, other "found" substances, etc. I would propose that the qualities for making a good pigment are as follows:

1.) it can be pulverized or ground fine enough to make an acceptable pigment. This can be a matter of personal preference or a desired effect.
2.) it must be stable in it's natural state and not likely to react to environmental conditions or with other pigments.
3.} it should not have an adverse effect on the binder, either chemically or physically
4.) It should be insoluble in all potential binders.
5.) It should be free of organic matter that may decompose or rot.

Other than the above criteria I would say anything goes. Light fastness and other working quality's can only be attained after the paint has been made in the binder of choice and tested, then the pigment can be accepted or rejected according to ones own criteria.

Making Natural Earths and other found substances into pigments:

The first step to making a pigment would be to pulverize and powder the substance. You may need to start with a hammer to brake it up and then grind it down finer with a mortar and pestle. Forcing it through a variety of sieves or screens may help separate finer particles for further grinding.

The pigment can then be washed by mixing with water and allowing the pigment to settle for an hour or so. Carefully pour off the water and repeat until the water is clear.

The next step is to levigate the pigment. This is similar to the previous step of washing except you'll only leave the pigment settle for a few minutes.
Mix the pigment with water as when washing, but this time only allow it to rest a minute or two so that the heavy sand and larger grains settle to the bottom, but the finer particles are still in suspension. Carefully drain off the water into another container so as to get as little as possible of the sandy bottom particles. Now allow the water to settle a day or so until the water clears. Drain off the water and allow the rest to dry. A Buchner funnel will quicken the process up considerably. Then re-grind the pigment in a mortar and pestle and screen through a very fine screen such as a permanent coffee filter.

If the resulting pigment is still to course for your needs, it can be re-ground and levigated as many times as needed.

Michael Price is some more information on levigation techniques & equipment here. (off site)


Chrome Yellow

Glassware needed: 1) 100 ml beaker, 2) small (10 ml) graduated cylinder, 3) buchner funnel, 4) filter flask

Measure 5mL potassium chromate solution using the graduated cylinder and transfer (pour) the solution to the beaker. Rinse the cylinder well with distilled water, then measure 5 ml of zinc chloride solution. Add the zinc chloride to the beaker. Stir with a glass rod. Using a disposable pipette, add 10 drops of sodium hydroxide. Note carefully all changes you observe. Isolate the chrome yellow pigment using a Buchner funnel, filter paper and filter flask. Rinse the pigment with water and allow to dry on the filter paper.


Prussian Blue

Glassware needed:1) 2 small beakers, 2) glass funnel

Weigh 0.410 g of iron(III) chloride [Fe(III)Cl3]in a weighing boat. Weigh 0.470 g of potassium ferrocyanide [K4Fe(CN)6] in another weight boat. Carefully add one or two pipettes of water to dissolve each solid separately in the weigh boat, then also carefully pour each solution into a beaker. if not all the solid has dissolved, stir with a glass rod. Now, add the solution of Fe(III)Cl3 drop wise (using a pipette) to the K4Fe(CN)6 solution. Stir briefly the allow the mixture to sit about 10 minutes.

Drying method 1:
Place the glass funnel into a ring-clamp on a ring stand. Place a beaker 9 any size) under the funnel. Flute filter paper and place it in the funnel. Finally pour and scrape the Prussian blue pigment formed into a fluted filter paper in a glass funnel. Allow the thick mixture to slowly drain the excess solution away down the funnel. Leave the pigment on the filter paper ad place it on several paper towels (labeled) to dry over the next week.

Drying method 2 (preferred; this method can be used for drying most pigment precipitates):
First separate the colored solid from the water by filtration. Set up a Buchner funnel, filter paper and Buchner flask as shown in the diagram. Connect the Buchner flask to the water pump and turn on the water supply. Carefully pour your liquid into the Buchner funnel. The water will be sucked away leaving your colored solid behind.Diagram of Buchner funnel set up

The next job is to remove any remaining water from your solid. Carefully scrape your solid into a small beaker using a spatula. Measure about 10cm3of propanone (acetone) in a measuring cylinder. Take great care not to spill propanone (acetone) on your skin or get it in yours eyes. Don't sniff it, either. Pour the propanone (acetone) into the beaker and stir the mixture with a stirring rod. Put a new piece of filter paper in the Buchner funnel. Filter the mixture as you did before.

Finally, you are ready to make the dried solid into an artists' paint. Transfer the solid to a mortar. Grind it carefully with a pestle. Your pigment is now ready to be stored or ground into paint.

Notes: water is miscible in acetone (propanone) and it will draw the last bits of water from the pigment. It will also remove many the impurities.

Another recipe for Prussian Blue:
Make Solution 1 by dissolving 2g of iron(II) sulphate in 4cm3 of distilled water. Make Solution 2 by dissolving 1g of potassium hexacyanoferrate(III) in 3cm3 of distilled water.
Make your blue colour by adding Solution 2 to Solution 1 drop-by-drop, swirling the flask thoroughly each time. The blue precipitate should be washed and filtered and set out to dry.



Obtain a small and large set of petri dishes. Place the top of the small petri dish inside the bottom of the large petri dish (see example in lab). Using a disposable pipette, place about one pipette (~ 1 ml) of glacial acetic acid into the bottom of the large petri dish, carefully avoiding dropping any acid into the small petri dish. Using the metal snips, cut a piece of copper sheet that is about 30 x 50 mm (1" x 1.5"). Clean the copper using the metal polish provided. Wipe the residue carefully and polish until the metal is a rosy copper color. Carefully place the piece of copper metal on the small petri dish. Place the large top cover on the petri dish and wrap a piece of parafilm around the side.

  Notes:The basic principle here is to expose the copper to the acetic acid fumes in a closed container, without allowing the copper to be in direct contact with the acid. Any number of apparatus that accomplishes that goal should work. Small glass jars or cups and a mason jar would be an easy substitute for the petri dishes in the recipe above.


Verdigris (harvesting)

Remove your verdigris-coated copper plate or pipe from the petri dish or jar and place it on the inverted petri dish top. Allow the verdigris to "dry"; it will become paler and powdery in appearance. Scrape the verdigris off onto a piece of glassine (or weighing) paper. Store the verdigris in a vial and label it.



Glassware needed: 1) mortar and pestle, 2) small crucible, 3) triangular wire support . 4) 150 ml beaker, 5) buchner funnel, 6) filter flask

Obtain a mortar and pestle. Place into the mortar 3 g of sodium dichromate and 0.45 g of sulfur. (Weigh out the needed amount of each solid on a plastic "weighing boat".) Grind the two solids together until they are a fine powder. Transfer this powder to a small porcelain crucible using "glassine" or weighing paper. Set the crucible on a triangular wire support. Heat the crucible in a flame from a bunsen burner until no further gas or smoke is produced. Allow the crucible to cool. When you can safely handle the crucible with your hands, scrape out the solid product and put it back into a **CLEAN** mortar and pestle. Grind it again then transfer it to a medium sized beaker (150 ml) being sure to remove all the powder by washing (rinsing) the mortar with water. Fill the beaker with water approximately halfway and stir vigorously. This process is dissolving ( "extracting") into the water any undissolved reagents (what, if any, color(s) do you observe?). The green chromium pigment will be left undissolved in the beaker. A Buchner funnel, filter paper and filter flask are used to isolate the pigment. Rinse the pigment with acetone to help remove water and speed drying.






Page Top ^

Jump to : Supplier\Manufacturer Codes  |  Binder/Medium Codes


1 = opaque
4 = trans.


I = excel.


Color Index Generic Name:
  Key Top ^ Page Top^
This is the C.I. Generic Name (abbreviated) given by the ASTM and Colour Index International (CII) for that pigment. The first 2 or 3 letters describe the general pigment color and the number is the individual pigment identifier. N/A (not applicable) means that pigment has not been given a color index name or number.

Natural Dye and Solvent Pigments
Naturally occurring pigments. They are all organic and are biological in origin. With a few exceptions, most are plant or animal extracts or dyes that need to be fixed to a substrate to become pigments (i.e. Madder Lake). A few are organic natural earths such as Cassel earth (Van Dyke Brown). They are designated with C.I. Generic name or CIGN of which consists of the usage class "Natural" and basic hue, followed by the CI serial number (i.e. Natural Brown 8). Natural pigment CI generic names are often abbreviated with the usage class N + the hue abbreviation + the serial number. (i.e. NBr 8)
Pigments can be organic or Inorganic. Most modern pigments are given this usage designation by the Color Index. The can be synthetic or naturally occurring, but they do not come from biological sources, they may be based on natural sources (i.e. PR 83 or the synthetic form of Alizarin Crimson). Pigments are designated with C.I. Generic name or CIGN which consists of the usage class "Pigment" and the basic hue followed by the CI serial number (i.e. Pigment Red 106, Cadmium Red). The pigment CI generic names are often abbreviated with the usage class P + the hue abbreviation + the serial number. (i.e. PR83 for Pigment Red 83)
NY = Natural Yellow;
NO = Natural Orange;
NR = Natural Red;
NV = Natural Violet;
NB = Natural Blue;
NG = Natural Green;
NBr = Natural Brown;
NBk = Natural Black;
NW = Natural White;
  PY = Pigment Yellow;
PO = Pigment Orange;
PR = Pigment Red;
PV = Pigment Violet;
PB = Pigment Blue;
PG = Pigment Green;
PBr = Pigment Brown;
PBk = Pigment Black;
PW = Pigment White;
PM = Pigment Metal


The CI (Color Index) Common Pigment Name:   Key Top ^ Page Top^
In this database the common name is the name given in the Color Index (third edition, 1997) by the Color Index International published by the Society of Dyers and Colourists and the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists, and are also used by the ASTM International, American Society for Testing and Materials.

When the Colour Index (3rd edition) has not specified a name, I have used the name that the first manufacturer, inventor or original patent holder has given that pigment. In the case of ancient pigments, historic pigments, minerals or other odd pigments, I have used the most commonly used traditional historic, mineral or chemical name as determined by my research.

Common, Historic and Marketing Names:   Key Top ^ Page Top^

These are the various names that have been used for that pigment whether or not it is the correct usage. This is NOT an endorsement of any particular name, but merely a collection of names that are in common usage or have been used in the past according to historic pigment books & references, paint sales literature, and pigment manufacturers references. They have been collected (in order of importance) from

1.) Paint manufacturers, pigment manufacturers and\or other pigment supplier literature;

2.) Various web sites in particular, Dick Blick Artist Supply,, Kremer Pigments, Natural Pigments, Kama Pigments, Sinopia Pigments, and along with internet forums on art and painting, web sites of paint manufacturers, paint suppliers, chemical manufactures and pigment manufacturers;.

3.) The Color Index, Third edition (published by the Colour Index International, 1997);

4.) Historical books on pigments, oil painting, watercolor painting and other art forms (see Free Art e-Books);

5.) Artist manuals and handbooks (see the bottom of the Pigment Database's main page for a complete list of reference works);

6.) Various dictionaries and encyclopedias (both historic and contemporary).


When a manufacturer has has used a common historical name for a pigment that is not the accepted traditional historic pigment name and has not clearly indicated it to be a hue or substitute, I have indicated it with the "(hue)"* in parenthesis. For example calling\naming a paint made with Phthalocyanine Blue as "Azure", "Smalt" or "Cobalt Blue".

*In order to stay within ASTM specification D 4302-05, manufactures are encouraged to use the word "hue" when the paint or pigment marketing name is not the real name of a paint or a pigment. Substitute and tone could be also considered acceptable means of indicating a hue substitute for the actual color. However, the ASTM specifications are usually voluntary and there is little means to enforce them. Also because of language differences, changes in the paint or pigments common identification because of contemporary usage (often perpetrated by manufacturer's incorrect color marketing names), and last but not least - the sheer multitude of historically used paint names for any given paint\pigment, it's nearly impossible to prove or say a manufacturer of art materials is being purposely deceptive.


C.I. Constitution Number or Colour Index Constitution Number (chemical composition):   Key Top ^ Page Top^

These are the chemical constitution numbers given that pigment by the Color Index International published by the Society of Dyers and Colourists and the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists, and are also used by the ASTM International, American Society for Testing and Materials. Each of the numbers in the "Colour Index Constitution Number" has a specific chemical or compositional meaning; for more information see the Colour Index Number Chart or go to the Color Index International and ASTM, American Society for Testing and Materials web sites (these links open in a new window)..

Chemical Composition:   Key Top ^ Page Top^

These are the basic chemical names, or mineral names along with chemical composition. I have also included CAS numbers, when I can fine them. Sometimes multiple names are given because chemical names can be stated in different ways and can also give an indication of the manufacture method. Very often a pigment can be a group of related compounds rather than one specific chemical. I have not included detailed chemical descriptions or analyses, but only basic information that should help you to find further information. I have included references designated with "(Ref)" where further information can be attained.
Adulterants, extenders and other additives may be added to artistic paints to improve the paint rheology, transparency, and\or drying time. Often inert pigments, extenders and fillers are added to the color pigments in student grade paints or to modify paint pigments with overly strong tinting strength, i.e. the Phthalocyanine Blues and Greens.
These extra ingredients are rarely listed of the label.

Color Description:   Key Top ^ Page Top^

This is a general attempt to explain the hue in plain English. The perception of color is as individual as the the people viewing it and any such description can not be completely accurate, but merely give a general idea of the what color looks like to the average person. Many pigments have a range of shades and hues. This range in hues can be due to many things such as different manufacturing processes, exact chemical composition and crystal shape. In most cases, i have not used any of the attempted means of standardizing color descriptions for this (such as the Munsell system), but where the pigment is included in the Color Index International Pigments and Solvent Dyes (The Society of Dyers and Colourists, third edition 1997), I have used that description, when there is no color hue description in the Color Index, I have used other reference sources in particularly manufacturer or supplier literature.

† = Effects of long term light exposure are given when known, this may allow an artist to anticipate color changes and possibly use them as an advantage. These effects are all relative to the pigments inherent light fastness and may take decades or even centuries in museum conditions to be visible.

Fades = Becomes more Transparent
Lightens = Loses chroma but maintains relative transparency or opaque character;
Whitens = Becomes lighter towards white and more opaque;
Darkens = Becomes darker but retains hue;
Dulls = Loses chroma towards neutral but maintains the relative tone;  
Blackens = Turns very dark or black losing chroma;  
Hue shift = Changes hue towards a different color

Opacity - Transparency*:   Key Top ^ Page Top^

This designation is only a general reference to the most common encountered opacity or transparency inherit to the pigment. In paints, the transparency of a pigment can change due to what is used as the painting medium or binder (i.e., oil color, watercolor, encaustic, acrylic, etc.). There are many pigments that are opaque in watercolor but transparent or semi-transparent in oil paints. The transparency of a paint or pigment can often be manipulated by the manufacturing process for a particular purpose. The addition of inert pigments or other modifiers can also change the perceived transparency of a paint formulation or pigment.
When available, i have used the Color index's designation or manufacturers literature to arrive at this figure. When the Color Index description is unavailable i have arrived at a general figure by manufacturer literature or personal experience. A general designation such as given will not always be the case in any particular formulation.
1 = Opaque,
2 = Semi-Opaque,
3 = Semi-Transparent,
4 = Transparent

Light Fastness Rating**:   Key Top ^ Page Top^

The light fastness rating can only be a general guide, when available, i have used the ASTM rating or manufacturers literature to arrive at this figure. The ASTM has not rated all pigments, and I believe will no longer be rating pigments. For that reason the rating in this database will not always be the ASTM rating but a rating culled from other sources, most importantly manufactures literature. The ASTM ratings have a 5 increment scale and the blue-wool scale is 8, in this database lightfastness ratings have been condensed or averaged to a less specific 4 designations. Very often, pigments in tints are less light fast and this should be taken into account when determining if a pigment or paint will meet your needs. I can can not cover every possible paint, binder, or pigment formulation in this chart as it would take too much time and space. There are so many variables as to make this designation, in this database, of only marginal use. In particular the quality of the actual pigment manufacture has much influence on a pigments fastness to light, heat and other chemicals. Additives, binder, and many other factors all have a influence on light fastness or fastness to other environmental influences. Whether a paint is watercolor, oil color, tempera, etc. has an effect on light fastness. Varnishes and other treatments to the painting surface or support can have an influence too. The only way to be sure, is to make your own tests on the paint or pigment you have. Reference the following: (ASTM D4303 - 10, Standard Test Methods for Lightfastness of Colorants Used in Artists' Materials, or ASTM D01.57, the Subcommittee on Artists' Materials doc here, opens new window); or this ( Thread - opens new window)
I = Excellent,
II = Good,
III = Poor (may last many years in museum conditions, but should be used with caution for permanent works of art)
IV = Fugitive/Very Poor

Oil Absorption: is given in g/100g or grams of oil per 100 grams of pigment   Key Top ^ Page Top^
or as H, M, L (see below)

The oil absorption figure has been arrived at from the pigment manufacturer's literature or artist reference sources (see the bottom of the Pigment Database's main page for a complete list of reference works). The higher the oil absorption, generally, the longer it will take to dry when used in oil painting. The addition of driers, siccatives, retardants and other additives can effect the drying time of any specific formulation, or they can be added by the artist to speed up or slow down the drying of oil paints. In some literature the oil absorption rate is given as ml/100g, although not tectonically the same as g/100g, for the purposes of this database they a virtually he same (a ml is a gram of water, not oil).

Depending on the specifications i have available I may also use the following designations:
H = High;   - These pigments absorb a lot of oil.
M = Medium;    - Average drying or cure rate
L = Low;    - Usually very fast driers

Toxicity***:   Key Top ^ Page Top^

Under this heading will be a general designation of a possible hazard. It is assumed intelligent people will use at least ordinary care when handling all paints or pigments. The designation has been arrived at from, in most cases, the manufacturer's literature, art books and art reference works (see the bottom of the Pigment Database's main page for a complete list of reference works), MSDS sheets, the EPA manual: Environmental Health & Safety in the Arts: A Guide for K-12 Schools, Colleges and Artisans (full PDF here), The Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI), The Health and the Arts Program - Great Lakes Centers at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health (UIC SPH), The American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works has a collection of articles on art safety, The Consumer Product Safety Commission's Art and Craft Safety Guide (PDF, 250 KB) and Art Materials Business Guidance

All paints and especially dry pigments can be hazardous if carelessly handled, but, if handled properly with common sense all but the most dangerous pigments can be used safely. Very few pigments used in the arts are edible, and even so called "Food Colors" are not meant to be used in large quantities and may have unknown side effects or allergic reactions.

WARNING: Always use a dust mask when working with any dry pigments. Work in a separate area of your studio away from children, pets or other living things. Do not smoke, eat or drink around any art materials. Dispose of all waste materials in an environmentally safe way.

A = Low hazard, but do not handle carelessly;
B = Possible hazard if carelessly handled or ingested over long periods of time;
C = Hazardous, use appropriate precautions for handling toxic substances; 
D = Extremely Toxic, only attempt working with these pigments (especially the dry form) in laboratory like conditions with proper safety equipment (see "Prudent practices in the laboratory: handling and disposal of chemicals" at google books opens new window);

PDF - Booklet Safe Handling of Colour Pigments Copyright © 1995: BCMA, EPSOM, ETAD, VdMI - link from VdMI

The Side Notes Column:   Key Top ^ Page Top^

These are typically interesting things I have read, or information collected on a pigment that may be worth further study. Please remember that they are NOT statements of absolute fact. Many pigment qualities are rumors, old wife's tales and misconceptions repeated over and over until they accepted as fact without any scientific proof. References (Ref) may be provided for further info.


(hue) = When the word "hue" in in parenthesis (hue), it refers to a hue color not designated on the label, when the word "hue" is not in parenthesis is part of the pigment name as per ASTM guidelines.

(Ref) = A link to a reference source. This may be the reference source of the information that I have given, or just a link to more detailed information.

? = a question mark next to a name, note, or data code indicates that it may or may not be correct information due to conflicting information, questionable references, possible typo or other discrepancies in the manufacturer or other reference documentation. Further study is needed to clarify.

Paint or Pigment Manufacturer Code & Art Medium:*****   Key Top ^ Page Top^
Paint/Pigment Manufacturer Code:
The manufacturer code is to indicate companies that make or supply paints or pigments using the particular pigment. Only those products that are single pigment only will be indicated in this database. In a few cases, the Color Index International has listed a mixture of pigments or chemicals under a single color index pigment name or code, and these will also be designated as if they were a single pigment. The codes next to the pigments in above Color of Art Database may take you off sight where you can find more info or even purchase, if you so desire. These codes are not part of any standard, but were made up by me for this database, with purpose of making them as short as possible.
The links below next to the manufacturer code below are to the official manufacturer web site and will open in a new window.

DG = Daniel Green

EP = Earth Pigments

GB = Gamblin

GEN = Common Generic term

GO = Golden

GR = Grumbacher

GU = Guerra Paint & Pigment

HO = Holbien

JO = Jo Sonja

KA = Kama Pigments

KP = Kremer Pigmente  (USA site)

Paint medium or binder code:  Key Top ^ Page Top^

Clicking on the paint or pigment manufacturer code next to the pigment name will take you off site where more information can be found. The link will most often take you to an art supplier where you can find more specific art medium or paint binder info, purchasing source, pigment properties, pigment history, MSDS sheets, and whether it is the artist premium or student economy grade. If you find this site helpful you can help support this site by purchasing through these links.

d in italics next to the pigment manufacturer or art supplier code indicates a discontinued pigment or paint.
All art medium or binder codes in italics mean the pigment under that name is in the "student" or economy grade, not the "artist's" grade paint.

a = Acrylic Paint, heavy body;

ab = Acrylic Airbrush colors;

ad = Aqueous pigment dispersions;

af = Fluid Acrylics;

ag = Matte Arylic or Acrylic Gouache;

ao = open acrylics or slow drying

k = Alkyd paints;

c = Casein or milk paint;

d = Discontinued

e = Encaustic paints;

g = Traditional Gouache;

i = Ink (printing ink or pigmented drawing inks);

o = Oil Paint;

p = Dry Pigment;

t = Tempera or Egg Tempera;

w = Watercolor Paint;

wo = Water mixable oil paint or water soluble oil paint.


am = Acrylic medium, may have a wide variety of ingredients or uses

om = Oil painting Medium, may have a wide variety of ingredients or uses

wm = Watercolor Medium, may have a wide variety of ingredients or uses

GEN = Where there is a generally accepted common historic name associated with a pigment, I have used "GEN" to denote the generic or common historical name of a particular pigment.

Other than gouache, only single pigment paints and pigments are included. Gouache is designated distinct from watercolors because it is often mixed with white or additives to make it matte and/or opaque and that is not usually indicated on the paint manufactures literature. Other art material or medium forms such as pastel, oil pastels, oil bars, dyes and ceramic glazes will not be designated with a artists medium or binder code, but may still be listed under the pigment name with a company code.

©2010 by David Myers, All Rights Reserved. Please email me with corrections, additions or comments.

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Artist Reference Resources:

Natural Pigments, Pigments, Education, The Best source of Natural and Historical Pigments
Dick Blick Artist Supply: Full Range of art supplies at discount prices, Guide to Watercolor Pigments, Bruce MacEvoy 2008



Artist Reference Resources:

Historical Artist and Pigment Reference Sources:  
This is just a partial list, for a more complete listing of Historical Pigment References see the
Free Art Books Page.

  1. The Industrial and Artistic Technology of Paint and Varnish,
    By Alvah Horton Sabin, Published by J. Wiley & Sons, 1904
  2. The Painters' Encyclopaedia,
    By Franklin B. Gardner, Published by M.T. Richardson, 1887
  3. The Science of Painting,
    By Jehan Georges Vibert, Published by P. Young, 1892
  4. A Treatise on Painting,
    By Cennino Cennini, Giuseppe Tambroni, Mary Philadelphia Merrifield, Translated by Mary Philadelphia Merrifield, Published by Lumley, 1844
  5. A Treatise on Painting,
    By Leonardo Da Vinci, John Francis Rigaud, Published by J.B. Nichols and Son 1835
  6. The Book of the Art of Cennino Cennini,
    By Cennino Cennini, Cennini, Christiana Jane Powell Herringham, Translated by Christiana Jane Powell Herringham, Published by G. Allen & Unwin, ltd., 1899
  7. The Chemistry of Paints and Painting,
    By Arthur Herbert Church, Published by Seeley, 1901
  8. A Handbook for Painters and Art Students on the Character and Use of Colours,
    By William J. Muckley, Published by Baillière, Tindall, and Cox, 1880
  9. The Household Cyclopedia,
    By Henry Hartshorne 1881
  10. The Chemistry of Pigments,
    By Ernest John Parry, John Henry Coste, Published by Scott, Greenwood, 1902
  11. Facts about Processes, Pigments and Vehicles: A Manual for Art Student,
    By Arthur Pillans Laurie, Published by Macmillan, 1895
  12. The Manufacture Of Earth Colours:
  13. Materials for Permanent Painting,
    By Maximilian Toch 1911


Modern Pigment and Artist Reference Sources:

  1. The Artist’s Handbook,
    by Pip Seymour, Arcturus Publishing (September 16, 2003)
  2. The Artist's Handbook, Revised Edition,
    Ray Smith; DK Publishing 2003
  3. The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques,
    Third edition, by Ralph Mayer; Viking Press 1979
  4. Artists' Pigments: Volume 1: A Handbook of their History and Characteristics
    Edited by Robert L. Feller
  5. Artists' Pigments: Volume 2: A Handbook of their History and Characteristics
    Edited by Ashok Roy (Oct 2, 1993)
  6. Artists' Pigments: Volume 3: A Handbook of their History and Characteristics
    Edited by Elisabeth West Fitzhugh (Oct 1997)
  7. Artists' Pigments: Volume 4: A Handbook of their History and Characteristics
    Edited by Barbara Berrie (Jun 7, 2007)
  8. Collins Artist's Colour Manual,
    Simon Jennings; HarperCollins Publishers 2003
  9. Color Index International Pigments and Solvent Dyes,
    The Society of Dyers and colourists, third edition 1998
  10. A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques,
    Ralph Mayer, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969
  11. The Materials and Techniques of Painting,
    by Jonathan Stephenson (May 1993)
  12. The Painter's Handbook,
    Mark David Gottsegen; Watson-Guptill Publications 1993
  13. Painting Materials A Short Encyclopaedia,
    by Rutherford J. Gettens and George L. Stout; Dover Publications 1966
  14. Pigment Compendium,
    by Nicholas Eastaugh, Valentine Walsh, Tracey Chaplin, Ruth Siddall; Butterworth Heinemann 2004



Web Resources and Art Suppliers with Excellent Reference Materials:

  1. American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC):

    National membership organization in the United States dedicated to the preservation of cultural material, establishes and upholds professional standards, promoting research and publications, educational opportunities, and fostering the exchange of knowledge among conservators, allied professionals, and the public.

  2. AMIEN:
    a resource for artists dedicated to providing the most comprehensive, up-to-date, accurate, and unbiased factual information about artists' materials
  3. Blick Art Materials;
    has done a extremely thorough job of indicating the pigments used in most of the paints they sell, making the Dick Blick art supply website much more than just a store to purchase paint and art supplies.
    Dick Blick also has the MSDS sheets
    for of most of the products they sell , making the Blick site a valuable resource for toxicity info and the health and safety of artist materials.
    a large and thorough site on pigments, in Finnish
  5. Conservation and Art Materials Encyclopedia Online (CAMEO), The Materials Database,
    developed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), to be a more comprehensive and well-rounded encyclopedic resource for the art conservation and historic preservation fields. The MATERIALS database contains chemical, physical, visual, and analytical information on over 10,000 historic and contemporary materials used in the production and conservation of artistic, architectural, archaeological, and anthropological materials.
  6. Conservation OnLine (CoOL):
    A freely accessible platform to generate and disseminate vital resources for those working to preserve cultural heritage worldwide.
  7. The Handprint,com;
    site by Bruce MacEvoy has loads of excellent information on watercolor pigments and Has a excellent color wheel showing where the actual pigments are in color space. Truly an awesome site, the site is directed at watercolors, but is a good general reference for any paints or pigments.
    Great pigment sight that even includes step by step instructions for making you own pigments.
  9. The Real Color Wheel;
    by Don Jusko is also a great color site.
  10. Studiomara;
    has a fantastic pigment reference database sorted by the marketing paint color name and brand.
  11. Health and Safety in the Arts;
    A Searchable Database of Health & Safety Information for Artists
  12. Household Products Database;
    Health and safety information on household products from the US Department of Health and Human Services
  13. Natural Pigments:
    One of the best sources of rare natural and historical pigments and information.
  14. Pigments and their Chemical and Artistic Properties; by Julie C. Sparks, is part of The Painted Word Site. Wonderful stuff.
  15. By Tony Johansen, Great Paint making site with all types of useful pigment and binder information for the artist.
  16.; Paint & Coatings Indusry
        2010 Additives Handbook by Darlene Brezinski, Dr. Joseph V. Koleske, Robert Springate, June 4, 2010;
        A History of Pigment Use in Western Art Part 1;
        A History of Pigment Use in Western Art Part 2
  17. Dick Blick Artist Supply:
    Full Range of art supplies at discount prices and has pigment info on most paints they sell
  18. Kremer Pigmente EuropeKremer Pigments USA site;
    Has a huge amount of pigments and information.
  19. Earth Pigments:
    Specializes in earth pigments.
  20. Guerra Paint and Pigments:
    Many rare and out of production Pigments mostly in aqueous dispersions
  21. Sinopia:
    Lots of Pigments & info

Health and Safety in the Arts References and Info:

  1. Art and Craft Safety Guide (PDF, 250 KB)
    Consumer Product Safety Commission
  2. Art Materials Business Guidance
    Consumer Product Safety Commission
  3. Art Safety
    Environmental Protection, Health & Safety, California State University at Monterey Bay
  4. Artist Safety
    Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology, Oregon Health & Science University
  5. Environmental Health & Safety in the Arts: A Guide for K-12 Schools, Colleges and Artisans
    U. S. Environment Protection Agency
  6. Exposing Ourselves to Art (PDF, 6.83 MB)
    Scott Fields. Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 105, Number 3, March 1997
  7. Health & Safety Bibliographic Resources and Resource Guides in Art Conservation
    CoOL – Conservation Online, Stanford University Libraries
  8. Health and Safety Guides and Publications
    American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Work
  9. Art Safety
    Office of Environmental Health and Safety, Connecticut College
  10. Health and the Arts Program
    The Occupational Health Service Institute, University of Illinois at Chicago
  11. Online Health and Safety in the Arts Library
    The Occupational Health Service Institute, University of Illinois at Chicago
  12. Arts, Entertainment and Recreation
    New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health
  13. Studio Safety
    Gamblin Artists Colors














Color Index pigment info on brand name paints

The Color of Art Pigment Database Reference of artist paint and dry pigments, pigment powders, and pigment dispersions along useful for artists and illustrators painting or drawing in oil or watercolor, acrylics or other art media that uses color in their artwork. it is a complete painting resource for the artistic palette, showing the meaning of the color index pigment codes usually indicated on the paint tube label. The color index pigments numbers can be found on acrylic paints, watercolor both water color tubes or dry watercolor (often called "pans", "half pans" or "watercolor cakes"). Watercolors can also be in the form of water soluble drawing sticks and water soluble colored pencils.
Tubes of oil color with the pigment names on the oil paint tubes contain important info on the pigments the paint is made from. The CI generic pigment name codes on tubes of professional artists paints in any media oil color, watercolor, alkyd paint, pigmented inks, or even contemporary manufactured historic egg-oil emulsion tempera are an international standard and can be looked up in the Color of Art Art is Creation Pigment Name Database. The color of art database also Includes info on casein milk paint and gouache opaque paint. Oil paint and historic egg-oil emulsions and tempera were often used by the old masters of painting in their artwork. The reference pigment information found here will assist in the artistic creation of all artists, skilled craftsmen, craft women or craft persons, and other crafters or hobbyists of all types. The pigment database can also be put to good use by artisans in all the fine arts and visual artists, and is also the info necessity for art conservators and art restoration, particularly painting restoration professionals or art restorers. The pigment reference is even a useful resource for Graphic illustrators, commercial artists and graphic designers.

This page of the Art is Creation Color of Art has the art supplier and manufacturer color charts indicating color index pigment names of their products. All artist paints and pigments that are ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials) and ASTM D4236 - 94* compliant that are sold in the United States must have the pigment identification number or generic chemical names of the pigments that were used to make the paints or dry pigments (either powdered or in the commonly found "pigment dispersions") and should be have the generic pigment name printed on the paint label. The oil paint tube or jar, oil color paint label, along with the label on tubes of acrylic paints, or jars of acrylic paint, or even including the label on tubes of watercolor often found as pans, half-pans or dry cakes in often sold as a complete palette or "watercolor set", will have the pigment or pigments index number on the label, or the paint label or pigment id is printed directly on the paint tube.


*other ASTM specifications used the the labeling of artists materials are:

D4236-94(2011) Standard Practice for Labeling Art Materials for Chronic Health Hazards

D4302-05(2010) Standard Specification for Artists' Oil, Resin-Oil, and Alkyd Paints

D4303-10 Standard Test Methods for Lightfastness of Colorants Used in Artists' Materials

D4838-88(2010) Standard Test Method for Determining the Relative Tinting Strength of Chromatic Paints

D4941-06(2010) Standard Practice for Preparing Drawdowns of Artists' Paste Paints

D5067-05(2010) Standard Specification for Artists' Watercolor Paints

D5098-05a(2010) Standard Specification for Artists' Acrylic Dispersion Paints

D5383-02(2010) Standard Practice for Visual Determination of the Lightfastness of Art Materials by Art Technologists

D5398-97(2010) Standard Practice for Visual Evaluation of the Lightfastness of Art Materials by the User

D5517-07 Standard Test Method for Determining Extractability of Metals from Art Materials
See also WK41263 proposed revision

D5724-06(2010) Standard Specification for Gouache Paints

D6801-07 Standard Test Method for Measuring Maximum Spontaneous Heating Temperature of Art and Other Materials

D6901-06 Standard Specification for Artists' Colored Pencils
See also WK27266 proposed revision

D7354-11 Standard Guide for Artists’ Paint Waste Disposal in Private, Non-Commercial Settings

D7355-10 Standard Guide for Artists' Paint Waste Disposal in Smaller Commercial or Educational Settings

D7733-12 Standard Specification for Acrylic Dispersion Ground

WK28388 New Specification for Traditional Artists Watercolor Paints
WK37409 New Test Method for Measuring Aspiration Potential of Aerosol Products
WK37916 New Specification for Standard Specification for Artists Pastels


© 2013 by David Myers