Key to the Paint Ratings

NOTE: Violet red pigments (commonly labeled rose, carmine, magenta or maroon) have been historically among the most fugitive. The hue range rarely occurs in inorganic pigments and the natural organic alternatives are almost always impermanent. Although modern chemistry has made spectacular advances in filling in this part of the hue circle, this is a group of pigments you should treat with caution, especially if the paints have an intense (highly saturated) color. I suggest you conduct your own lightfastness tests to confirm the paints are reliable for your purposes.

PR60disazo lake (1923)permanent roseHolbein002315303324-203,6

Disazo rose PR60 is an impermanent, semitransparent, lightly staining, moderately dark valued, intense violet red pigment. Unrated by the ASTM, industry and my own lightfastness tests give it a "poor" (IV) rating. Holbein is apparently the only source for the pigment in watercolors.

AVOID. The pigment alters after a few weeks' exposure to light, completely fading away in tints and losing saturation in masstone. Seemingly a useful color for florals, but only if you want your roses of summer to fade forever. The same hue and most of the saturation are available with the much more reliable quinacridone rose (PV19).

lightfastness test sample

unexposed (top); exposed 800+ hours (bottom)

PR122quinacridone magenta (1958)verzino violetMaimeriBlu47333520341-118,8
PR122quinacridone magentaWinsor & Newton22932560313-147,8
PR122rose violetHolbein31843540220-117,8
PR122purple magentaSchmincke3673353022359-107,8
PR122quinacridone magentaUtrecht00343550214-137,8
PR122quinacridone magentaRowney Artists4144348022356-77,8
PR122quinacridone purpleSennelier6712347122354-47,8
PR122geranium lake bluish
[replaced in 2005]
PR122old holland magentaOld Holland18131561323-137,8
PR122+PR171quinacridone magenta + benzimidazolone maroonpurple madder [hue]
[discontinued in 2005]
Winsor & Newton205336803114-87,8
PR122+BV10quinacridone magenta + rhodamine B violetoperaHolbein2132243031358-35,6
PR122+BV10opera roseWinsor & Newton4483143143357-10.,.

TOP 40 PIGMENT  Quinacridone magenta PR122 is a lightfast, semitransparent, staining, dark valued, intense violet red pigment, offered by more than 20 pigment manufacturers worldwide. "Magenta" was originally a violet red aniline dye, first produced by Natanson in 1858, and named to commemorate a battle in that year at Magenta, Italy. PR122 has the strongest violet hue of any violet red pigment available in watercolors; it undergoes a moderate drying shift, lightening slightly and losing saturation. One of the bluest of the quinacridones (along with quinacridone violet, PV19), the pigment was first offered by Winsor & Newton; other companies were quick to add it to their lines, the most recent being Holbein and Daler-Rowney. The average CIECAM J,a,b values for quinacridone magenta (PR122) are: 38, 71, 1, with chroma of 71 (estimated hue purity of 63) and a hue angle of 1.

The ASTM (in technical report D5067-99) rates the lightfastness of PR122 in watercolors as "fair" (III, "may be satisfactory when used full strength or with extra protection from exposure to light"), but other manufacturer and independent tests rate it higher. My 2004 lightfastness tests of the nine paint brands listed above, which show color variations that suggest several different pigment particle sizes or pigment suppliers, revealed very little or no color degradation, after 800+ hours of direct sunlight exposure, in both heavy and diluted applications. This puts the pigment solidly in the "excellent" (I) category (BWS 7+).

quinacridone magenta lightfastness samples (2004)

after 800+ hours of sunlight exposure, the samples show no fading or discoloration:
(left to right) Old Holland, MaimeriBlu, Winsor & Newton, Lukas, Utrecht, Schmincke, Holbein opera

For context, compare these samples to naphthol red (PR170), a pigment with a well established "very good (II)" rating, or with quinacridone rose (PV19), which is considered to have "excellent (I)" lightfastness. This is such a glaring discrepancy that the ASTM test must be flawed or unrepresentative in some way. Because Michael Wilcox relies on the ASTM documents for his pigment ratings, he has been critical of this pigment without any corroborating evidence of its fallability. I suggest you do your own lightfastness test on PR122 paints until a consensus emerges, but at present I see absolutely no reason to avoid this splendid pigment.

There is noticeable variation in the pigment value, chroma and handling characteristics across paint brands. Winsor & Newton quinacridone magenta is one of the better paints sampled here, with a very fine pigment texture, a chroma just under 60 and a distinct blue bias to the color that shifts toward violet in tints. MaimeriBlu verzino violet and Utrecht quinacridone magenta are close color matches, and the MaimeriBlu paint has a visible pigment texture to my eye. The W&N paint blossoms readily but is only slightly active wet in wet; the MaimeriBlu and Utrecht bronze when applied full strength, indicating a relatively high concentration of gum arabic or glycerin in the vehicle. The Old Holland paint, though the same hue, is noticeably duller with a coarser pigment texture. The Lukas paint is unusually whitish and opaque, indicating significant amounts of brightener or other additive. A few other paints (Holbein rose violet, Rowney Artists magenta and Schmincke purple magenta) are slightly lighter valued and bluer than the others, apparently using a different pigment source; all have good lightfastness but lower tinting strength. Sennelier quinacridone purple is a similar hue but because of the vehicle formulation it is splotchy and unacceptably weak. (See also the paint samples reproduced in the section on black field tests.)

Finally, Holbein opera is a more intense bluish pink hue (chroma of 79), and has long been a favorite of botanical and landscape watercolor painters for its captivating, bright floral or flamingo color. It is unfortunately only marginally lightfast because the fluorescent basic dye rhodamine B (BV10) has been used. (The dye is formulated by dissolving it in an inert, insoluble resin, then crushing and grinding the cured resin matrix to the desired particle size.) In 2005 Winsor & Newton introduced their own opera rose, which has a slightly darker and less intense color and shows pigment separation (resin from quinacridone) in juicy, dilute washes. These paints should not be used in collectible quality artwork.

PR122 is my preference for the "primary" magenta paint for color point 5 of the color wheel. It has a marvelous mixing range, producing the brightest possible mixed violets from red blues such as ultramarine or cobalt blue; deep dark blues and violets with phthalo blues; iridescent purplish grays with cobalt turquoise; deep, sturdy blacks with phthalo green; and interesting, transparent botanical browns and dull yellows in mixtures with yellow, green golds or yellow greens such as sap green.

Substitutions. The main alternatives are quinacridone rose (PV19), a redder color that produces slightly less saturated violets and more saturated warm mixtures; and quinacridone violet (PV19), whose dark but saturated tones produce some lustrous dusky violets and very interesting browns and maroons with other warm colors. However quinacridone rose, assigned an "excellent" (I) lightfastness by the ASTM, was variable across manufacturers in my own tests, and some brands were clearly less lightfast than PR122. See also the section on quinacridone pigments.

PR171benzimidazolone maroon (1960)naphthamide maroonDaniel Smith039336402017-78,8

Benzimidazolone maroon PR171 is a very lightfast, semitransparent, staining, very dark valued, dull violet red. Unrated by the ASTM, industry and my own lightfastness tests give it an "excellent" (I) rating. — Daniel Smith naphthamide maroon is the only commercial watercolor source I am aware of for the pure pigment. The paint shows a large total drying shift (lightening and losing saturation). The average CIECAM J,a,b values for benzimidazolone maroon (PR171) are: 26, 36, 9, with chroma of 37 (estimated hue purity of 35) and a hue angle of 14.

An inessential pigment. The color is easily reproduced with a mixture of quinacridone red (PR209) and phthalo green (PG7). See also the section on benzimidazolone pigments.

NOTE. No manufacturers were registered under this pigment in The Colour Index (4th edition online), which suggests that stockpiles of the pigment may soon be depleted. Winsor & Newton used it in their discontinued color purple madder, listed under PR122.

PR202quinacridone magenta (1958)quinacridone fuchsiaDaniel Smith132445402315-108,8
PR202quinacridone magentaDaniel Smith073346003210-147,8

Quinacridone magenta PR202 is a lightfast, transparent, heavily staining, dark valued, intense violet red pigment, currently offered by 6 pigment manufacturers worldwide. Unrated by the ASTM, manufacturer and my own tests assign it "excellent" (I) lightfastness. PR202 has the same molecular structure as PR209; the differences in hue arise from differences in the crystal structure. This pigment stands in the middle of the hue span for PV19; it has the same hue as quinacridone rose (PV19), but a darkish value closer to quinacridone violet (PV19). Don't let the name lead you to confuse this pigment with PR122, which is lighter valued and more intense, with a slightly cooler hue. The average CIECAM J,a,b values for quinacridone magenta (PR202) are: 33, 69, 12, with chroma of 70 (estimated hue purity of 63) and a hue angle of 10.

Daniel Smith is the only commercial source for this pigment I am aware of, using it in two paints. The Daniel Smith quinacridone fuchsia is the lighter valued and more intense of the two. Both paints blossom readily, are active wet in wet, and bronze slightly when applied full strength; both show a moderate total drying shift (losing saturation and shifting slightly toward blue).

This is an attractive pigment, especially as a darker "rose" complement to quinacridone red (PR209) or as a more lightfast alternative to quinacridone rose (PV19). The violets mixed with PR202 and a blue paint are somewhat duller than those mixed with PR122 or PV19 rose (which is an advantage if you use purple mixtures primarily as shadow color); it dilutes down to a red violet rather than pinkish undertone, making it a good floral color. See also the section on quinacridone pigments.

NR4cochineal (antiquity)carmine genuineSennelier637445112213-31,5

This natural red pigment, one of the oldest reds, is a very fugitive, transparent, heavily staining, moderately dark valued, moderately dull violet red pigment, first used in Europe when it was brought from the New World in the 15th century. It is made from the dried bodies of beetles native to the high deserts of Central America. (A similar dye, made from a related insect that feeds on oaks grown in the eastern Mediterranean basin, is the source of the carmine of classical times.) The ASTM (1999) rates its lightfastness in watercolors as "very poor" (V), and my 2004 tests agree.

AVOID. Because it is fugitive, the only appropriate use of cochineal is as a food coloring. You may want to buy a small sample in order to find a lightfast color match for "classical" carmine: for that purpose I suggest quinacridone rose (PV19, below), or Daniel Smith's quinacridone magenta (PR202, above). See also the section on natural organic pigments.

lightfastness test sample

unexposed (top); exposed 800+ hours (bottom)

NR9lake of natural madder, rubia tinctorium (antiquity)rose madder genuineWinsor & Newton09040352306-22,4
NR9rose madder genuineDaniel Smith08040601212401,3

Genuine rose madder NR9 is a fugitive, transparent, nonstaining, mid valued, moderately dull violet red pigment in tints and medium solutions, darkening to an impermanent, dull magenta red in masstone. The pigment actually contains two unique dyes, the fugitive, fiery orange purpurin and the impermanent, bluish red alizarin. Like alizarin crimson (PR83), rose madder is widely acknowledged to be a fugitive pigment. The ASTM (1999) rates its lightfastness in watercolors as "poor" (IV), as you can see from the comparable results in my own tests (right).

The Winsor & Newton rose madder genuine, which is still manufactured using the cumbersome and time consuming traditional method of dye processing, has a fairly bright and clear color flecked with interesting bits of vegetable matter; the paint dissolves reluctantly and is relatively weak even in masstone. The Daniel Smith paint is surprisingly dark, dull and fugitive by comparison, and does not seem to represent the color appearance of the historical pigment.

AVOID. Rose madder is still occasionally recommended by the "old master" generation of workshop artists, although it is indisputably too fugitive for professional artistic work. Readily replaced by quinacridone rose (PV19) or quinacridone magenta (PR122 or PR202), modulated if desired by a thin glaze or addition of pyrrole orange (PO73) to simulate the effect of the purpurin dye. See also the section on natural organic pigments.

lightfastness test samples

unexposed (left); exposed 800+ hours (right) — Winsor & Newton, Daniel Smith

magenta paints made with pigments in a different color index category

PV11+PR83methyl violet + 1-,2-dihydroxy-
anthraquinone lake
bright roseHolbein3702351131351-113,3

Holbein bright rose is a semiopaque, moderately staining, dark valued and intense violet red convenience mixture. The double hex of alizarin crimson and methyl violet ensures that this concoction is fugitive.

AVOID. Not a paint for collectible artistic work, and repro paintings made with it will not fall within the gamut of lightfast giclée inks.

PV19gamma quinacridone (1958)permanent roseWinsor & Newton075434902319-167,8
PV19quinacridone roseM. Graham156445512124-177,8
PV19quinacridone roseDaniel Smith076334704312-77,8
PV19quinacridone redDaniel Smith073245404121-127,8
PV19primary red - magentaMaimeriBlu256334502416-97,8
PV19rose lakeMaimeriBlu182245203425-187,8
PV19ruby redSchmincke351325304323-147,8
PV19royal purple lakeOld Holland184325203216-157,7
PV19permanent rose (quinacridone)DaVinci182234613212-96,8
PV19quinacridone roseRembrandt366335004315-206,7
PV19red rose deep (quinacridone)DaVinci276345713326-236,7
PV19alizarin crimson (quinacridone)DaVinci202245912227-176,7
PV19carmine (quinacridone)DaVinci225346323225-136,7
PV19permanent roseRowney Artists537324703119-176,6
PV19+PY97gamma quinacridone + arylide yellow FGLrose doreWinsor & Newton089333804428-65,5

The quinacridone pigment classified under the generic color index name PV19 is marketed as two distinct colors. I discuss the lighter valued, higher chroma paints in this section, and the darker valued, lower chroma and more lightfast paints in the next section.

TOP 40 PIGMENT  Quinacridone rose PV19 (gamma quinacridone) is a lightfast, semitransparent, staining, moderately dark valued, intense deep red to violet red pigment, available from about 20 pigment manufacturers worldwide, primarily for high grade paints and plastics. The ASTM (1999) rates its lightfastness in watercolors as "excellent" (I), but I found small shifts in hue and value that put some brands in the "very good" (II) category.

quinacridone rose lightfastness samples (2004)

after 800+ hours of sunlight exposure, some paints have visibly faded: (left to right) M. Graham, Winsor & Newton, Daniel Smith, MaimeriBlu, Rowney Artists, DaVinci permanent rose, DaVinci quin carmine

In watercolors, PV19 undergoes a small drying shift, losing slightly more than 10% saturation with almost no lightening. It's the chemical twin to quinacridone violet (beta quinacridone, PV19), which is bluer, darker, and less intense. (Hilary Page's quirk of adding "R" or "B" to the color index name has no sanction from either the Colour Index International or the manufacturers.) — The pigment used in watercolor paints is quite variable across manufacturers; all brands shift significantly toward blue in undertone. The milling and vehicle formulation affect the handling characteristics of the paint, which are quite different across manufacturers. The paint offerings essentially clusters into two hues:

• ROSE. This shade has an average hue angle of 16 and a value range of 48. It mixes very bright warm colors and violets, and is valuable as a "primary" magenta in a limited palette. Winsor & Newton permanent rose stands out as the most saturated, strongest tinting and one of the warmest among the rose paints available. The Daniel Smith quinacridone rose has the bluest hue but shows a noticeably lower masstone chroma. The Rowney Artists quinacridone rose and MaimeriBlu primary red-magenta are less concentrated, weaker in mixtures and lighter valued. The other rose paints are similar to each other, darker valued, slightly warmer in hue and more lightfast. The average CIECAM J,a,b values for quinacridone rose (PV19) are: 44, 72, 13, with chroma of 73 (estimated hue purity of 64) and a hue angle of 10.

• RED. This shade has an average hue angle of 27 and a value range of 55 (it's warmer and darker than the "rose" shade). There are fewer paints available in this hue, but because this is warmer than the rose hue, it is an interesting choice as a "cool" red in a limited or split "primary" palette. M. Graham quinacridone rose is the most intense and strongest mixing of the red shades, and relatively less active in wet applications. Both Maimeri and Daniel Smith offer the "red" hue (labeled "rose lake" by Maimeri) with similar color attributes to anthraquinoid red (PR177) but better lightfastness. The average CIECAM J,a,b values for quinacridone red (PV19) are: 33, 71, 25, with chroma of 75 (estimated hue purity of 65) and a hue angle of 19.

Finally, the Winsor & Newton rose dore, a mixture of rose with yellow, is an impermanent imitation of a fugitive historical pigment preferred for floral paintings.

One of the most versatile and widely used crimson/rose pigments. Some manufacturers offer it as the artist's primary magenta. Because it is warmer than a typical magenta, quinacridone rose creates clean, bright mixtures across the red to yellow span of a color wheel. Its violets are not as bright as those mixed from quinacridone magenta (PR122), but I find this creates a more natural color when the mixtures are used for shadows. Gamma PV19 works especially well in florals and, with raw sienna and cobalt blue, in mixtures for healthy pink flesh tones.

CAUTION. The variations in lightfastness ratings in my tests indicate that you should do your own lightfastness tests on this pigment, whatever brand you use, as paint companies can change their pigment supplier. See also the section on quinacridone pigments.

PV19beta quinacridone (1958)quinacridone violetM. Graham15844630223-188,8
PV19quinacridone violetDaniel Smith08924650237-248,8
PV19permanent magentaWinsor & Newton48934620333-198,8
PV19permanent magenta
[discontinued 2005]
Winsor & Newton07334610321-188,8
PV19permanent magentaRowney Artists40933600241-208,8
PV19permanent red violetRembrandt56734600306-128,8
PV19quinacridone violetUtrecht0043358020356-158,8

The quinacridone pigment classified under the generic color index name PV19 is marketed as two distinct colors. I discuss the darker valued, lower chroma paints in this section, and the lighter valued, higher chroma and less lightfast paints in the previous section.

TOP 40 PIGMENT   Quinacridone violet PV19 (beta quinacridone) is a very lightfast, semitransparent, heavily staining, very dark valued, moderately intense violet red pigment that shifts toward blue in undertone. Unrated by the ASTM, my own and nearly all manufacturer or independent tests indicate it has "excellent" (I) lightfastness. Note that it has the same color index name as quinacridone rose (PV19), but is a very different hue and value. (Hilary Page's quirk of adding "R" or "B" to the color index name has no sanction from either the Colour Index or the manufacturers.) The average CIECAM J,a,b values for quinacridone violet (PV19) are: 27, 58, 7, with chroma of 58 (estimated hue purity of 55) and a hue angle of 7.

In watercolors, the violet shades of PV19 undergo a moderately large drying shift, lightening by 15% and losing over 20% of chroma. The measured hue is nearly identical to quinacridone magenta (PR122) but because of its darker value and lower chroma it appears bluer, especially in tints. (This dependence of apparent hue on value and/or chroma is a peculiarity of points 5 and 6 of the color wheel.) It is the parent of the red quinacridone pigments, a superb mixing color, and is now offered as a single pigment paint by most watercolor manufacturers.

The dark shade of PV19 is fairly consistent across paint brands, and most paints that contain it are also active in wet applications (blossoming and diffusion). M. Graham quinacridone violet, Winsor & Newton permanent violet and Rowney Artists permanent magenta have a very similar hue and saturation (chroma of 45); all make a large shift toward blue in undertone (a lyrical characteristic I really like). The Daniel Smith quinacridone violet is darker valued (which cause a slight hue shift toward red), and bronzes slightly when applied full strength. Rembrandt permanent red violet is also reddish and intense, and the Utrecht quinacridone violet, the lightest paint of all, bronzes in full strength and is bluer and less saturated than the other brands, almost appearing to be maroon.

PV19 can be used to anchor the "magenta" side of warm colors in a palette: the question is, which hue to use? The rose or red shades of PV19 are more extraverted, producing bright warm mixtures, bright tints, and lighter valued violet mixtures with blue paints. The violet shade of PV19 is more evocative: the dark value and "violet" reflectance mixes unusual, complex browns with orange or yellow paints, moody reds and oranges with orange or red paints, and subdued, atmospheric violets and blues with dark blues such as phthalocyanine blue (PB15) or ultramarine blue (PB29); it also mixes shimmering violet grays with dull blue greens such as cobalt teal blue (PG50) or cobalt turquoise (PB36). See also the section on quinacridone pigments.

PV32benzimidazolone bordeaux (1960)bordeauxDaniel Smith00834551117-96,7

Benzimidazolone bordeaux PV32 is a lightfast, semitransparent, heavily staining, dark valued, moderately intense violet red pigment. Unrated by the ASTM, it is rated "very good" (II) by the paint manufacturer and my 2004 tests. — Daniel Smith bordeaux is apparently the only commercial source for this pigment in watercolors. The color appearance is very close to quinacridone violet (PV19), but it is slightly less intense when dried. The CIECAM J,a,b values for this benzamida bordeaux (PV32) are: 30, 56, 18, with chroma of 59 (estimated hue purity of 52) and a hue angle of 18.

Like most benzimidazolones, this paint is relatively inert in wet applications and shows a moderate total drying shift (losing saturation and lightening slightly). — An infrequently used pigment; the manufacturer suggests using it to paint cranberries. Quinacridone violet (PV19) provides almost exactly the same hue and handling attributes with a higher lightfastness rating. See also the section on benzimidazolone pigments.

PV42quinacridone pink (1958)quinacridone pinkDaniel Smith013345512116-207,7

Quinacridone pink PV42 is a lightfast, semitransparent, heavily staining, dark valued, intense violet red pigment, available from only one registered pigment manufacturer (CPMA). Unrated by the ASTM, and rated "excellent" (I) by the manufacturer, in my own tests it was slightly less lightfast than other red or rose quinacridones.

Both Daniel Smith quinacridone pink and Schmincke magenta present a hue that is intermediate between quinacridone rose (PV19) and quinacridone magenta (PR122), which are already close in hue; both paints shift to the magenta hue in tints. The average CIECAM J,a,b values for quinacridone pink (PV42) are: 35, 74, 16, with chroma of 76 (estimated hue purity of 68) and a hue angle of 12.

The paint is relatively inert in wet applications and shows a moderate total drying shift (losing saturation and lightening slightly); the Schmincke paint presents an interesting, gentle flocculation when dried. — An infrequently used pigment. Quinacridone rose (PV19) provides almost exactly the same hue with better saturation at lighter values, and good handling attributes. If you choose to use PV42, I suggest you conduct your own lightfastness test to make sure of its permanence for your applications. See also the section on quinacridone pigments.

KEY TO THE PAINT RATINGS. Summarized as numbers: Tr = Transparency: 0 (very opaque) to 4 (transparent) - St = Staining: 0 (nonstaining) to 4 (heavily staining) - VR = Value Range: the value of the masstone color subtracted from the value of white paper, in steps of a 100 step value scale - Gr = Granulation: 0 (liquid texture) to 4 (granular) - Bl = Blossom: 0 (no blossom) to 4 (strong blossom) - Df = Diffusion: 0 (inert) to 4 (very active diffusion) - HA = Hue Angle in degrees of the CIELAB a*b* plane - HS = Hue Shift as the undertone hue angle minus the masstone hue angle, in degrees of the CIELAB a*b* plane - Lf = Lightfastness: 1 (very fugitive) to 8 (very lightfast) for paint in tint,full strength - Mentioned in pigment notes: Chroma: For the masstone paint on white watercolor paper. - Drying Shift: Change in masstone color appearance from a glistening wet to completely dry paint swatch, in units of lightness, chroma and hue angle in CIELAB. For more information see What the Ratings Mean.