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BROWN Art Supply Pigment Database Watercolor Gouache Acrylic Ink Pencil Color Chart Swatch
Artist reference guide to Brown pigments in art supplies. Color chart swatch cards of common pigments in watercolor, gouache, acrylic paint and ink. Includes lightfast ratings from the brand (and any conflicting fugitive test results from my independent studies). Arranged by ingredient pigment number code (color index for the chemical). Each image shows the brand, manufacturer color name, how the color appears in masstone (full strength) or diluted (with water), opacity, lifting (erasing with a damp brush), layering (2nd coat after dry) and how well it could hold a smooth gradient in wet.
PBr1 Permanent Brown FG: Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated.
PBr6 Iron Oxide Hydroxide Brown:
AKA Brown Ochre. LFI / BW8. Synthetic form of Ferric Oxide (brown iron oxide, including Fe2O3, FeO·Fe2O3, Fe(OH)2·Fe2O3 types). Can significantly vary in hue from a yellow-brown to dull earth red tone. Synthetic inorganic (man-altered pigment, typically a controlled oxidation of PBk11). Granulating and varying degrees of sedimentary trace minerals (flecks of black or deep brown particles) with additional color separation in wet washes. PBr6 is overall uncommon as a pigment choice compared to similar earth browns (PBr7). I have experienced moderate to severe wet to dry shift (becomes pale and desaturated) with PBr6 pigments which makes it difficult to anticipate how your art will look once dry.
PBr7 Brown Iron Oxide:
AKA Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Raw Sienna or Raw Umber. LFI / BW8. Natural form of Ferric Oxide. Yellow-brown, brown, or dull red tones depending on mineral content & processing. Burnt ones have been heat treated (calcined) to darken the color. Natural earth that has been filtered to remove clay and manganese oxides (see PBr8 for unfiltered). This pigment number describes brown earth that is capable of being incredibly variable colors. Each source of iron oxide from around the world may contain trace minerals that alter the hue from yellow, brown, red to near-black. RECOMMENDED PIGMENT: The deep warm dark brown version called "Burnt Umber" is on my palette list. It's a helpful brown for everything from portraits spanning dark to light skin tones, botanical branches/trees, landscapes and mixing your own black or warm/cool shadow colors with Ultramarine Blue PB29. Be aware that some companies substitute PR101 mixed with PBk7/Black pigments to mimic Burnt Umber, which does not have the same gentle granulation and can be more staining than the PBr7 version.
PBr8 Manganese Brown:
Lightfastness varies by batch and brand (raw earth has varying mineral contents) so LF testing your own sample is recommended. Less common than PBr7, but a very similar natural pigment. PBr7 has had the manganese oxides filtered out of it. PBr8 is the earth as it was found including more trace minerals, clay and notable Manganic hydroxide occuring naturally as manganite. Color varies by location mined. Can be deep or pale, similar to raw umber with less granulation and slightly more color separation which was notable via salt reaction. Not to be confused with NBr8 (which is another natural brown earth, but NBr8 includes more fugitive peat soil and coal, available as Vandyke Brown in Holbein or Aquarius).
PBr9 Copper Ferrocyanide:
Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated. Toxic. Historical pigment confused with Van Dyke Brown NBr8, as PBr9 has been called Van Dyke Red. The Blick/Grumbacher watercolors are labeled as PBr9, however I have not verified if they are accurately classified (actually containing Cupric ferrocyanide Cu2Fe(CN)6·xH2O Cupric potassium ferrocyanide CuK2Fe(CN)6 going by the C.I. Constitution number 77430). It is possible the following swatch cards are actually NBr8 mislabeled. Grumbacher and Blick (store brand) are the same paints rebranded. Very gritty, sandy, unpleasant texture similar to dirt.
PBr10 Calcium Orthoplumbate: Uncommon. LFI. Toxic. May contain insoluble lead, and is typically used as a rust inhibitor or primer.
PBr11 Magnesium Ferrite:
Highly recommended, this color is on my main palette (top lightfast pigments page here). Extreme granulation texture. Orange-brown hue, similar to terra cotta clay in color. This lightfast pigment separates out from any color you mix it with. Ideal for use in textural landscapes and purposefully color-separating effect mixtures. Use this pigment to easily mimic replicas of Daniel Smith Primatek mineral colors (like Serpentine, Green Apatite, Burnt Tiger's Eye, Jadeite and Diopside). I have only seen PBr11 offered in watercolor by Daniel Smith and Roman Szmal, but you may also be interested in PY119 Magnesium Brown by Winsor and Newton which is slightly more finely ground (smaller particle size compared to PBr11) and just a touch more yellow. It performs similarly in mixtures, but is labeled as "PY119" with a more subtle texture. I suspect that Magnesium Brown may actually be mislabeled as PY119 but really be PBr11 or a custom hybrid (as PBr11 is the color index code for a Magnesium - not PY119 Zinc - based iron oxide brown).
You may see some brands label colors that are very opaque in masstone as transparent or semi transparent. This appears to be due to the fact that you can see through the cracks of sediment in these types of harshly granulating colors in wet washes. Some granulating colors flake into tiny chunks (diluting clear) with no underlying or staining color (such as PBk11 Lunar Black). I will put notes on the cards when my experience differs from manufacturer ratings, since you should go into this knowing it's not a transparent layering/glazing color.
PBr12 Cassel Brown: Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated. Toxic. Confusingly given the names "Oak Stain" (Walnut NBr7?) or also as "Cassel" or "Van Dyke" (NBr8?). I have not yet found a source for PBr12, but it is classified as Sodium salts of humic acid; CAS 68131-04-04.
PBr22 Pigment Brown 22: Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated. No known sources. Noted as a reddish brown made of "Nitro" CAS 29398-96-7.
PBr23 Pigment Brown 23:
Lightfastness not officially rated, independent tests show LFI-LFII with no notable fading before 9 months of south facing window light. Dull red to brown color. More resistant to heat and acid than Brown Iron Oxides. The closest match to PBr25 I've found for a transparent, smooth brown watercolor (but PBr23 is less red leaning, more yellow-brown). Gubbio Red from Kremer has an unusual texture, but the Roman Szmal watercolor, Schmincke or Holbein Azo Brown acrylics are very smooth and highly lightfast. Oddly, Sennelier has four mixtures containing PBr23, yet does not offer it as a single pigment watercolor.
PBr24 Chrome Antimony Titanate:
AKA Naples Yellow or Naples Yellow Deep. LFI / BW8. Color can vary based on production additives. Often used as a non-toxic replacement for Naples Yellow Genuine (lead yellow). Very smooth and opaque, being particularly suitable for gouache and matte acrylic. Some artists use this color in landscapes, but the gouache versions are also very helpful for highlights on animal fur.
PBr25 Benzimidazolone Brown:
This pigment is staining, smooth, non-granulating, rich, dark valued red-leaning brown. Goes under many names such as Permanent brown, Imidazolone Brown, Dragon's Blood and Brown Madder depending on the brand. Offered by a relatively small number of paint makers worldwide, PBr25 is a more expensive pigment than similar earth browns like Burnt Sienna PBr7 or Red Iron Oxides PR101. It is most similar to PBr23 Transparent Brown from Roman Szmal, but not Kremer's version (Gubbio Red appears to be a darker variant). I have found PBr25 in the catalogs of pro grade watercolor brands such as Mission Gold, Daniel Smith, Renesans and Maimeri Blu, but my favorite makers of PBr25 include Holbein, ShinHan and Rosa Gallery for their ability to behave well in controlled washes (hold gradients) and layer cleanly. There is a wet to dry desaturation. Lightfast LFI / BW8.
Recommended pigment, you can see me demonstrate its use and compare it to similar colors in the following video:
Holbein's Greenish Yellow is a very good pigment recipe for replicating PY129 Green Gold.
PBr27 Thioindigoid Brown: Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated.
PBr29 Chrome Iron Brown:
AKA Sicopal® Brown K 2795 FG (BASF), Iron Chrome Brown, Chromium Iron Oxide. Uncommon. LFI / BW8 (Blue Wool Scale 8 test based on information via manufacturer Ferro). Used for industrial purposes. Pigment Brown 29 (C.I. 77500) is a complex inorganic pigment of black mixed oxide of Iron (III) and Chrome (III) with chemical formula (Cr, Fe)2O3 and a hematite structure. It is a brownish to bluish black pigment. For about 5 years Mission Gold was the only watercolor company to offer PBr29, but in 2022 Roman Szmal added Iron Chrome Brown to the Aquarius watercolor catalog. It is a very smooth, opaque dark brown which I have found useful in some dull subjects like female song birds.
PBr30 Pigment Brown 30: Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated. Toxic.
PBr31 Zinc Ferrite Brown: Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated.
PBr33 Zinc Iron Chromite Brown:
A rare lightfast (LFI/BW8) earth brown offered as a single pigment in paint only by Schmincke Horadam as "Mahogany Brown". This color used to be a deeper cool brown known as "Walnut Brown", but around 2016 their older manufacturer discontinued making it. The new pigment supplier offered it in a warmer brown instead, due to being heated with a different chemical modifier such as oxides of Aluminum, Nickel, Tin, Titanium in small amounts (Zinc Iron Chomite + Al2O3, NiO, SiO2, SnO2 or TiO2). The current chemical supplier for Schmincke's paint might be Ferro, as Mason Color Works in the USA still offers both the warmer and cooler variant in pigment powder. As of 2022, no other watercolor company has yet to offer either version. I really hope this changes in the future, as both versions are beautiful - actively granulating with minor color separation in wet washes. Particularly useful for animal fur, landscapes and creating color separating combinations (such as Schmincke's "super granulating" colors shown in mixtures below).
PBr34 Nickel Ferrite Brown: Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated. Toxic. Synthetic compound of Iron Oxide & Nickel Oxide in varying amounts.
PBr35 Iron Chromite Brown: Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated.
PBr37 Manganese Niobium Titanium Brown: Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated. Toxic.
PBr39 Zinc Manganese Chromate: Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated. Toxic.
PBr40 Manganese Chrome Antimony Titanium Brown Rutile: Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated. Toxic
PBr41 Disazo Condensation Brown: Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated. Heavily staining dark brown color.
PBr42 Azo Golden Brown: Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated.
PBr43 Iron-Manganese Oxide: Uncommon. LFI. Toxic.
PBr44 Cobalt Tungsten Titanium Buff: Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated. Toxic.
PBr45 Manganese Tungsten Titanium Brown: Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated. Toxic.
PBr46 Chrome Iron Manganese Brown Spinel: Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated. Toxic.
PBr48 Aluminum Iron Titanate: Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated.
NBr3 Catechin: Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated. Tannic juice or boiled extract of Mimosa catechu, Catechin is a type of natural phenol and antioxidant.
NBr6 Ganga: Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated. Extract from fruit of the Terminalia Chebula (chebulic myrobalan a species of Terminalia). Also called cherry plum or myrobalan plum, Indian gooseberry (Emblica or Myrobalan; Emblica officinalis or Phyllanthus emblica) a fruit tree native to South Asia.
NBr7 Walnut Stain: AKA Walnut extract or Juglone from the Walnut family of trees (Juglandaceae).Can produce a poisonous organic compound. Uncommon. Fugitive - LFIV. Historical uses included paint, ink, and as part of a natural herbicide C10H6O3. In addition to UV sensitivity, walnut inks are acidic and not recommended for archival art.
NBr8 Van Dyck / Vandyke Brown: FUGITIVE - While the lightfastness is not officially rated, it varies between low LFII to LFIV depending on the ratio of fugitive organic matter including humus (decomposing soil), lignite, peat, brown or black coal (asphaltum / bitumen) which are all prone to fading. This dark brown earth pigment is essentially a multi pigment mixture including other earth browns (like brown iron oxide Pbr7, iron hydroxide - goethite PY43, manganese oxide - pyrolusite PBk14 etc.) which are more stable and help give it some lasting color. It is named after Flemish artist Sir Anthony van Dyck, which is translated into different languages as Van Dyke, Dijk, Dyck or Vandyke.
Take extra care to examine pigment codes listed on colors named Van Dyke Brown as this may include NBr8 (fugitive) or any combination of PBr7 mixed with black pigments (lightfast). None of the brands match each other and Van Dyke Brown look-alikes properly are rarely labeled as "hue" to properly indicate a replica and not genuine NBr8.
Sadly RS Aquarius watercolor rated this color as BW8 (max lightfastness / LFI equivalent), but it faded substantially within 3 to 6 months. Each brand fades a little differently depending on the ratio of fugitive to lightfast brown earth particles in each batch. NBr8 is looking similar to LFIII-IV rated paints after this duration of exposure (in general LFI paints show NO signs of fading at 1 year+ limited vertical window sun =3-5 hours/day).
NBr9 Sepia: Uncommon. LFIV. Expensive and difficult to harvest. From the ink sac of cuttlefish.
NBr11 Bistre: Uncommon. LFIV. A deep yellow leaning brown prepared from the soot of burned wood, typically Birchwood. Prepared as a shellac ink by Kremer pigments.
Bronzite Genuine: Uncommon. LFI. A pyroxine mineral. Bronzite is not a distinct species, but a variant of Enstatite (a magnesium silicate, MgSiO3) and Bronzite has more iron resulting in a brown coloration with golden-flecks in it. Bronzite has the chemical formula of (Mg,Fe)SiO3. This brown mineral is rarely used in paint making and only offered by Daniel Smith. It has a weak masstone and can be slightly difficult to re-wet from dry. There is a subtle sparkle effect, similar to coarse pearl mica PW20.
Burnt Bronzite Genuine: Lightfast mineral pigment. Daniel Smith offers this pigment in watercolor and it is otherwise rarely used in paint making.
Egyptian Mummy: AKA Caput Mortuum. Uncommon. Historical references say that it was made from ground-up mummified human remains. May be imitated in modern times using Asphaltum or iron oxide earth pigments (the most common of which is PR102 Caput Mortuum a granulating earth red).
Hematite Genuine: Daniel Smith offers three colors of this mineral, all of which are lightfast, extremely granulating and have varying degrees of color separation. Hematite is a near-black pigment with subtle dark brown color separation displayed in wet washes. HematiteViolet is a dark brown-black with subtle red-brown separation. HematiteBurntScarlet is much more brown than black compared to the other versions and has a brighter orange-brown color separation in wet washes. All are very helpful colors to use in landscape and animal (fur texture) paintings. These minerals fall within the brown section of Daniel Smith's color chart, which seems accurate as even the darkest valued one (Hematite Genuine) is still quite warm leaning for a near-black.
Manganous Chromate: Uncommon. Lightfastness not rated. A yellow powder reportedly used in cosmetics, but rarely in art materials. Noted as CrMnO4 or MgCrO4 CAS Number 55392-76-2
Minnesota Pipestone: A rare mineral.
Piemontite Genuine: A rare mineral.
Sicklerite Genuine: Uncommon. LFI. Comes from Lithium Manganese Iron Phosphate. High Manganese content can lead to dry paint in some mediums.
Siderite: Uncommon. LFI. Natural version of Iron Carbonate. AKA Iron Spar, a yellow to reddish brown mineral composed of iron(II) carbonate (FeCO3).
Tigers Eye Genuine:Uncommon. LFI. A member of the Chalcedony mineral class family. Used as a gemstone, it a hard stone (Mohs 7), reddish brown with iron stripes. The stone, but not the ground pigment, has a glass-like shine described as a "silky luster". This lightfast, granulating brown is made from a natural mineral rarely used in paint making. It can be hard to rewet, requiring extra scrubbing when dried in a pan. Tigers Eye Genuine is capable of subtle color separation, it has a lighter pale brown element that separates out from speckles of darker brown in wet washes.When dried in a panthese different colors can separate out into sedimentary layers, like shells of varying browns. Thiscan result in getting a different color each time you scrub a dry layer with a wet brush.
Below you can see that the heat treated variant, "Burnt Tigers Eye Genuine" is very dark. Some layers of standard "Tigers Eye Genuine" can also appear very dark, but when used fresh from the tube this paint normally appears to be a notably lighter brown than the burnt version:
Yavapai Genuine: Natural Red Iron Oxide mineral made from Arizona rocks. Lightfast, minorly granulating. Not particularly unique or useful compared to easier to find or more affordable earth browns.
Swatch card template available for download here, or get the rubber stamp here. Swatch cards were painted on Legion Black or Arches Cold Press 100% cotton watercolor paper. Paper and brushes are available at Jackson's or Amazon here:
I buy most of my art supplies online at Blick or Jackson's art materials.
I use affiliate links only to places I have personally shopped for art materials. When available I'll include multiple reputable stores so you can compare and decide where you'd like to shop. Dick Blick ("DB" links below) is a large art supply chain store here in the USA that ships worldwide. Jackson's ("Jack" links below) is a great UK based art supply store which also ships worldwide, but carries some harder to find European products with quick low cost shipping to the USA. Amazon USA ("Ama" links below) often offers unique brands, including small business and Chinese off brand watercolor sets, that can not be found anywhere else. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Arches 100% cotton cold press 140# watercolor paper is one of the most durable surfaces for technical pen, scrubbing and lifting. It's surface sizing (coating) and texture is a good middle ground compared to the extremes of different brands. Due to these traits, and it being around for long enough to be the most commonly recommended paper for professionals, all of my swatches are done on this paper for consistency. Only white (and mica paints that do not show up on white) use the Legion Black paper instead. I buy my arches paper at Blick, and if you are in the USA this is likely the most affordable place to buy it:https://shrsl.com/2765w
Alpha by brand shopping directory:
Daniel Smith watercolors -- available onDB,JackorAma.
More direct links coming soon, but those links and banners are the main sites that I purchase paints from.
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