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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.
Lightfast varies by brand. 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:
Lightfast. Common. 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:
Typically lightfast, but this 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:
Rarely used pigment. Grumbacher and Blick (store brand) are the same paints rebranded. Very gritty, sandy, unpleasant texture similar to dirt.
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.
PBr23 Pigment Brown 23:
Lightfast. Oddly, Sennelier has four mixtures containing PBr23, yet does not offer it as a single pigment watercolor.
PBr24 Chrome Antimony Titanate:
Lightfast, opaque warm brown, leaning slightly towards red than the similar pigment "Yellow Ochre" (see PY42). Some artists use this color in landscapes, but the gouache versions are also very helpful for highlights on animal fur. Color range and opacity varies by brand.
PBr25 Benzimidazolone Brown:
Offered by a small number of paint makers worldwide, PBr25 is a staining, smooth, non-granulating, rich red-leaning brown. Goes under several names such as Permanent brown, Imidazolone Brown, Polish Brown, Dragon's Blood and Brown Madder depending on the brand. I have found it in the catalogs of Daniel Smith, Holbein, Renesans, Art Philosophy and Maimeri Blu. Wet to dry desaturation. Lightfast.
Holbein's Greenish Yellow is a very good pigment recipe for replicating PY129 Green Gold.
PBr33 Zinc Iron Chromite Brown:
A rare lightfast earth brown offered only by Schmincke Horadam, which they call "Mahogany Brown". This color used to be a deeper cool brown, but around 2016 their older manufacturer discontinued making it and the new pigment supplier had a warmer brown instead. Both versions are actively granulating with minor color separation in wet washes. Particularly useful for animal fur, landscapes and creating color separating combinations (such as the limited edition colors shown in mixtures below).
PBr41 Disazo Condensation Brown:
NBr8 Van Dyck / Vandyke Brown:
The above watercolors are made from the antiquity pigment Natural Brown #8, a rarely offered pigment composed of mixed brown earth (coal/lignite, iron hydroxide - goethite, manganese oxide - pyrolusite, peat and random other local minerals found in the ground). This color is fugitive to different degrees between sources (due to the varied chemical make up of ground minerals/coal in locations around the world). This pigment is available as powder from companies like Cornellisen & Son as well as Kremer. Holbein and Roman Szmal offer it in watercolor. Sadly RS Aquarius watercolor rated this color as BW8 (max lightfastness / LFI equivalent), but it is fadingsubstantially within 6 months. I'll be continuing this test for 1 full year (for fair all-season comparisons to hundreds of other colors I'm testing), but in the meantime wanted to warn artists about this issue since it's notable already. NBr8 is looking similar to LFIII rated paints after this duration of exposure (and in general LFI paints show NO signs of fading at 1 year+ sun).
Bronzite Genuine: 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.
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.
Minnesota Pipestone: A rare mineral.
Piemontite Genuine: A rare mineral.
Sicklerite Genuine: A rare mineral.
Tigers Eye Genuine: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.
Interested in other ways to help this project? Visit me at Kimberly Crick Art on YouTubeor Patreon. If you have supplies that you would like to donate, such as watercolor dot cards or samples from your company that you would like reviewed or displayed in this pigment directory, please email me at email@example.com or use the contact form with details. Thank you :)