FUGITIVE PIGMENTS LIST! Lightfast tests, paint fading, rating systems in watercolor and other art supplies.

A fugitive pigment list with independent lightfast test results. Many watercolors, gouache, acrylic paints and other art supplies claim to have a high degree of lightfastness. Large reputable companies are usually accurate with their ratings, but some companies lie. Sometimes they are simply misinformed due to mistakes or limited testing data originating from the ingredient manufacturer. There are dozens of fugitive pigments misrepresented as being lightfast. I will cover all pigments that have been flagged for fading, regardless of established LF ratings. If you've got a large selection of colors, this guide may help you identify problem pigments in your collection. If you'd like to simplify your palette, I recommend my list of top recommended lightfast pigments.

More reasons to question established LF ratings: Sometimes ingredients can vary chemically between different brands. A company may only test a pigment in only one type of paint binder. Acrylic paint can initially appear to have more light resistance due to the thick masstone application plus a polymer binder that serves as a light refractive waterproof coating. A pigment stated to be max lightfast in acrylic, could be fugitive in watercolor. Pyrrol Orange PO73 is rated as perfectly lightfast in all mediums, but even it fades if exposed to prolonged repeat sunlight exposure when diluted (in any medium). I've heard people say that "watercolor is more fugitive than other mediums", mostly because watercolor most often utilizes pigment in its most diluted state. Even so, watercolor is not always fugitive. There are over a hundred lightfast pigments used in watercolors that can withstand daily direct sunlight for several years or more. A thick application of a pigment in acrylic may have its top layers fade first. This degradation is not clearly visible for a long period of time. A manufacturer could determine a pigment to be "lightfast", but later if an artist dilutes it to a thin watery layer they may discover it actually fades. It was never truly a lightfast pigment, it will just take longer to fade in a thick layer. Lightfast testing of both masstone and diluted watercolor paints is one of the best indicators of the UV durability of a pigment.

Watercolor Lightfast Testing masstone diluted fading fugitive UV sun light PO64 pigment database


PROBLEM PIGMENTS QUICK LIST: Organized by pigment code (color family, then chemical ID number). Learn more about what C.I. (color index) code numbers mean on the pigment database here.

--- PB17 Phthalocyanine Cyan (the least lightfast of Phthalo colors)

--- PB27 Prussian Blue ---

--- PG8 Nitroso Green --- 

--- PO13 and PO16 "Benzidine" Orange (and Red Shade) ---

--- PO64 Benzimidazolone Orange ---

--- PO73 Pyrrol Orange ---

--- PR3 and PR12 Toluidine Red and Permanent Bordeaux ---

--- PR48 and PR48:1 variants of Permanent Red ---

--- PR83 Alizarin Crimson ---

--- PR112, PR170 and PR184 types of "Naphthol" Red ---

--- PR176 Benzimidazolone Carmine, also "Alizarin Hue" ---

--- PR177 Anthra Red ---

--- PR242 Disazo Condensation Scarlet, also "French Vermillion" ---

--- PY1 Hansa Yellow (less stable than PY3 variant) --- 

--- PY17, PY55 and PY83 types of "Diarylide" Yellow ---

--- PY40 Aureolin Yellow ---

--- PY74 Arylide Yellow ---

--- PV3 Methyl Violet ---


Natural and antiquity ingredient codes:

--- NB1, PB66 and PB1 natural and synthetic Indigo Blue ---

--- NBr8 (Van Dyke Brown, literally dirt-brown peat/soil). ---

--- NR4 Carmine or Cochineal ---

--- NR9 Rose Madder (root plant) ---


Rarely used pigments (with codes that are no longer common in modern products): The following list is ingredients that are known to be fugitive, but you're not likely to find them in your art supplies. While some kids/bargain paints without pigment ingredients may still use some of these, you could also run into them from powder suppliers and small handmade paint shops (like small business people on Etsy) that offer unusual pigments.

--- Coming soon ---


Rarely used pigments (in production, but without code numbers): These fugitive ingredients are not used commercially often enough to have been assigned a color index number. This includes paints such as Daniel Smith's Primatek or Roman Szmal mineral watercolors, handmade paints from Kremer mineral or gemstone pigment powders. Turner and D.S. offer modern "Mayan" colors that may have been assigned codes after production. This means the labels and color charts of these companies do not specify a number, though the Color Index association may have assigned this chemical a code that can't be verified with the paint manufacturer.

--- Rhodonite, Sicklerite and "Mayan" Colors ---


Chemically unstable colors (for reasons other than UV light. Fading from any environmental reason such as heat, PH changes / acid, humidity etc.):

--- PG24 Ultramarine Green Genuine ---

 --- PV14 Cobalt Violet ---

--- Sodalite, Malachite, Vivianite and Azurite  ---


Other fugitive colorants:

Dye based products such as Ecoline, PH Martin Radiant, fountain pen inks etc. as well as additives in all types of paint to make them "fluorescent", "neon" or "opera" colors.

Other paint, inks and colored pencils sold without an ingredient list: 

Bargain, kids and student grade paints that do not have pigment codes listed should be assumed fugitive. Even products like acrylics and calligraphy ink that say "lightfast" (but don't provide ingredients) should be independently tested. Smaller, lesser known brands, are particularly bad about casually writing "lightfast" on their entire color selection. A good example of this is Ziller Ink, sold on Blick, as waterproof acrylic for drawing and calligraphy. Because waterproof drawing inks may be of interest to watercolor painters, I want to warn you about these inks being fugitive:

Ziller ink waterproof acrylic fluid for drawing and calligraphy dip pen pointed nib


Basic Q & A: Before we get to the lightfast test result images, if you're unfamiliar with this type of testing the following information may help.

What is lightfastness and why does it matter? In general, when a color is labeled as lightfast it means that it will not easily fade when exposed to UV (natural sun light, not indoor lamp light). I often hear people dismiss lightfastness as something that might happen "years from now", but fugitive colors can fade very quickly (as little as days for dyes or several weeks to months for pigments) even when placed in INDOOR location such as a brightly lit business offices, a restaurant or gallery with a lot of glass windows. A 3 month window test allows you to detect fading in the most fugitive colors. Most colors that will fade over time will show signs before 1 year. Be wary when someone says they did a lightfast test for a short duration (days, weeks or even a month is not enough).

Ziller Ink flamingo pink lightfast test fugitive calligraphy dip pen waterproof drawing ink

Wall art hung indoors can fade over time, especially in homes near the equator (natural light coming in your windows is stronger in FL, CA, TX or near water with lake/ocean reflected light) or a living room with large sliding glass doors where beams of light regularly shine in from sunrise/sunset etc. For most artists, the concern is that a buyer of your artwork may hang it on a wall. I have not found any UV spray that helps with this (krylon had little to no effect). Thick coatings of resin are capable of distorting light enough to protect watercolors and dye inks from fading, but can reactivate and ruin paintings. UV glass is a scam, as most affordable picture frames that mention UV may or may not have a spray coating that does very little (there is no standard in place and my tests have shown little to no efficacy). Only expensive museum grade glass that is cost prohibitive to the average artist is effective, as well as thicker tinted glass made for cars/house windows. It's cheaper and easier to use lightfast pigments in the first place, rather than try to seal/frame/fix problems later. This is less of an issue for those practicing in sketchbooks, or professionals specializing in print replicated illustrations (book, magazine, prints etc.) website, product design, or short term projects like indoor crafts/card making.

It is sometimes assumed that lightfast paints are more expensive or that they are only available in pro grade paints. This is not the case, but it's easier to tell which ones will fade before purchasing in pro grade paints because of the ingredient labels being more detailed. Many brands, even cheap ones, offer mixed selections of lightfast and fugitive pigments. It is often just as affordable to buy lightfast paints as fugitive ones (such as avoiding the low rated ones labeled as * of *** stars in the White Nights watercolor catalog when picking out the colors you want to buy). Many colors that would fade can be easily replicated by stable ones instead. The exception to that is neon or fluorescent colors, which are abnormally bright including man-made dye additives. There are no lightfast pigments that can replicate them. Any art sold using them should have a note in the listing advising the buyer to avoid storing it near window light. It is unfair to assume that buyers (and likely non-artists) know about pigment vs dye properties and fading potential.

Understanding lightfast rating systems: Here in the USA UV stable paints are labeled ASTM "LFI" to "LFII". (Formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials, it is one of the only systems where the lower number is better. Written in roman numerals on a scale from I-V. LFI and II being lightfast, III being borderline/fair and IV-V being fugitive.) Other lightfast rating systems include the Blue Wool scale of 1 to 8 (BW1 being the worst, BW8 being the best) and star systems with ratings like "+++" or *** (of 3 stars) or ***** (of 5 stars) in a star system that works like review ratings where more stars is better. This varies based on the brand/country of origin with each company deciding which system they prefer.


FUGITIVE LIST in detail with test result images:


--- Phthalocyanine Cyan PB17 ---

Not to be confused with PB15 or PB16 Phthalo variants which ARE lightfast. This Phthalo version PB17 is less stable in its diluted range. It used to be carried by Holbein in watercolor form, but now is limited to their gouache (available in two variant shades including the deep valued "Katsura Blue" and lighter "pure blue"). Paul Rubens, Superior and Super Vision offer PB17 in their watercolor pan sets. All of which are Chinese brands, so it's likely the pigment is still made there and I could not find it anywhere else.

Be aware that other pigment databases provide out of date information (such as Handprint and The Color of Art Pigment Database). They had listed this pigment as LFI and only tested Peacock Blue, the discontinued Holbein color that hasn't been available since 2005. The modern versions fade in tints and diluted (notably fades when pigment is mixed with over 50% water within 1 year). I recommend PB16 offered by a handful of pro watercolor companies like Daniel Smith, Schmincke, Da Vinci or Winsor and Newton instead. PB16 is copper free and better for marine environments in addition to being lightfast, so I overall find it superior to PB17.

Paul rubens watercolor pb17 pigment blue peacock like holbein fugitive lightfast test


--- Prussian Blue PB27 ---

Some student brands like Daler Rowney Aquafine, as well as Winsor and Newton Cotman, seem to have unusual texture problems as well as dramatic irreversible fading.

Prussian blue watercolor fugitive fading lightfast uv problem student aquafine and cotman

Prussian Blue pigment has a chemical reaction to UV light exposure. It is different than the standard fading that happens in other pigments. This is caused by the oxidation of ferrous ferrocyanide salts. Sun bleaches the FeIII (Iron) which requires time to re-oxidize away from light. Because it is possible to regain color intensity over time in shade, manufacturers have lazily marked it as LFI.

 Prussian blue lightfast test fade uv problem light recover shade daniel smith watercolor paint

PB27 Daniel Smith Watercolor Prussian Blue Swatch CardPB27 Mission Gold Prussian Blue watercolor color chart swatch card lightfast testPB27 Sennelier Watercolor Prussian Blue Swatch Card

Possibly the most widely misrepresented color, Prussian Blue is almost always labeled as LFI / max lightfastness. Some brands have honestly made an attempt to make a note about it's odd tendency to fluctuate in color (thank you Winsor and Newton), but most have no warning that it fades in light and recovers in shade.

winsor and newton prussian blue pb27 watercolor cotman and professional paint

The down side to this warning is that it's not enough information. The problem I've found in my testing is that all brands fade, but only some brands make a nearly full recovery after prolonged shade. The return to the original color can take as little as days, but some brands stay faded indefinitely. This variable is too great to be considered a lightfast pigment. Nor should you have to take a painting off the wall for a nap for it to be considered stable.


--- Nitroso Green PG8 ---

Also called Hooker's or Sap green. Green in White Nights watercolor is one of the deepest valued and light stable versions of this pigment with fading only equivalent to LFII in masstone and LFIII in diluted ranges, often performing much better than colors known to be fugitive like Alizarin PR83.

pg8 shinhan watercolor lightfast test fugitive fading nitroso green pigment hookers sap 

Shinhan PWC / SWC professional watercolors have two options for PG8 Nitroso Green pigment. These colors, called Sap Green and Hooker's Green vary slightly in hue AND in lightfastness. Hooker's Green variant seems to be less lightfast and more easily replaced by Phthalo Green PG7 or PG36. Sap Green has a darker and warmer hue, as if mixed with a yellow for a natural leaf color. In their masstone range these colors can have LFII to LFIII fading, increasingly fugitive as diluted. 



--- Benzidine Orange PO13 (+ PO16 red shade variant) ---

PO13 PW6 Prima Art Philosophy Confetti Melon Watercolor Swatch Card Color ChartPO16 PY14 Prima Art Philosophy Confetti Papaya Watercolor Swatch Card Color Chart

PO13 and PO16 versions of Benz Orange are commonly found in bargain/kids/crafter grade paints including Prima Art Philosophy. It is also available in some "designer" gouache or intentionally vibrant options of watercolors by ShinHan (who has a tendency to prefer bright colors over stable ones in their entire catalog). Though the watercolor set called "Confetti" by Prima is one of the most overall fugitive selections I've ever seen in any brand. Many of the colors in that set fade within a few months, some so completely that it doesn't look like paint was ever on the paper.

Fugitive pigment po13 and po16 benz orange shinhan vermilion hue pwc swc professional watercolor

Even using this color thickly in masstone will not save it from completely disappearing over time. I'm hesitant to even use it for card making, because diluted it can fade within weeks and if someone had their handmade birthday card sitting on their office desk for a while...



--- Benzimidazolone Orange PO64 ---

A new pigment that started popping up in a few professional watercolor brands between 2017 and 2020. Currently rated with max stars in White Nights and Rembrandt brands, but shows fading in masstone equivalent to LFII results. Most significantly, the diluted range (approx. 50% water) starts to fade dramatically in as little as 1 month, which is closer to colors that are rated LFIII to LFIV.

Roman Szmal new watercolor release 2020 aquarius orange po64 pigment fugitive fading lightfast test

In comparison, most lightfast paints can be exposed to multiple years of general daytime sun exposure without showing any signs of fading. LFII paints have minor signs of fading by 1 year, but no where near this diluted test result. Over 200 colors in Daniel Smith's watercolor line show zero fading despite having faced daytime exposure for 3 years in my north facing window. Please note that I do not test in constant or direct sun light, such as sunroof upward facing clear boxes in Arizona like ASTM methods. The day time limitations (indirect, general dawn til dusk lighting) means my tests take longer, but that the time results are a bit more comparable to realistic display scenarios (such as in a room with large windows receiving brief direct light beams every morning at sunrise).

PO64 Orange Pigment White Nights watercolor fading fugitive lightfast test Schmincke Saturn Red White Nights peach pastel watercolor fugitive po64 py3 pw6 pigment database lightfast test

PO64 White Nights Orange Watercolor Lightfast Fugitive Fading Pigment List Database PO64 Rembrandt Watercolor Brilliant Orange Pigment Database Professional Pro Grade Paint PO64 Schmincke Horadam Watercolor Saturn Red Art Pigment Database Orange Paint Swatch  

This modern pigment has not had enough testing for the LFI-II/max star rating to be taken seriously. I have done multiple tests and in masstone it has only minor fading, but when diluted it fades much faster. Called "Saturn Red" by Schmincke Horadam, "Brilliant Orange" by Rembrandt and "Orange" by White Nights.

PY3 PO64 PW6 White Nights Watercolor Peach

White Nights also put it in their color called "Peach" (a pastel mixture with white - which is particularly fugitive due to the pre-diluted mixture). 



--- Pyrrol Orange PO73 ---

Little to no change when used in masstone. Caution in diluted range. Problem for long term display (office, gallery etc.) with repeat UV or environments using Fluorescent bulbs.

PO73 Winsor and Newton Professional Winsor Orange Red Shade Watercolor Swatch CardPO73 PB29 PG18 Paul Rubens Tube Watercolor Royal Purple Swatch Card Color Chart

PO73 is NOT universally fugitive in every brand/medium/thickness. It appears that this pigment is only notably fugitive in tints/when diluted. Widely regarded as lightfast when in mass and midtone, it suffers only when UV exposure is prolonged (or consistent over a period of months, such as daily sunsets) and the paint was diluted (est. with more than 50% water).

PO73 orange pigment fading winsor and newton watercolor lightfast test

In the Winsor & Newton watercolor lightfast test above, you can see there is minor fading present in the diluted swatch for PO73 Winsor Orange Red Shade. This is not dramatic, being roughly equivalent to LFII level fading. However, if you dilute it with water even more this fading can increase. This can be problematic in buildings with large windows or homes near the equator that receive even an hour or two a day of sunrise/sunset beams of light.

Daniel Smith moonglow and shadow violet pr177 po73 fading fugitive lightfast test results watercolor 

While not as fugitive as PR177 found in the popular Daniel Smith color "Moonglow", I did see signs of fading in the color called Shadow Violet. PO73's fading also causes a loss of warm hue in the similar color by Paul Rubens called Moonlight Purple. When PO73 is such a small part of the mixture, the overall lightfastness suffers. I have mixed feelings about calling this paint lightfast when there's an "IF" statement attached. This will be a color I continue to test over a variety of brands to see if some pigment sources are more stable than others.




--- Toluidine Red PR3 and Permanent Bordeaux PR12 ---

Used in Shinhan Korean Color watercolor paints in "Carmine" and "Crimson" colors.

fugitive pigments shinhan korean color watercolor paint lightfast test red

Shinhan has used PR12 and PR184 in red mixtures with PR3, a particularly fugitive combination. This can result in so much fading it's like nothing was ever painted after about 1 year.


--- Perm. Red PR48 and PR48:1 variant ---

LFIV used in ShinHan, Holbein and Renesans watercolors often called "Scarlet Lake" or "Carmine Hue". There are times where a manufacturer might increase the LF rating by adding a lightfast pigment to a mixture. This is another reason to be suspicious of ratings, particularly in multi-pigment mixtures. Unfortunately there is very little PR108 (the lightfast Cadmium Red) in this mixture, so the fading was quite extreme:

pr48 fugitive watercolor lightfast test pigment list


--- Alizarin Crimson PR83 ---

PR83 Daniel Smith Alizarin Crimson Fugitive Pigment Rose Red UV Lightfast Test Fading Art PR83 lightfast test alizarin crimson rose red daniel smith watercolor paint sun uv fading

PR83 was offered in almost every major brand of paint for decades as a rose-red color loved by botanical artists. It can show extreme fading when diluted with water (about 50% water to paint ratio):

alizarin crimson winsor and newton watercolor pr83 fugitive lightfast test

Many companies have changed their paints to be called "Alizarin Permanent" when they switched the pigment ingredient to a similar, slightly more stable red such as PR264 or PR177 mixtures. I like Winsor and Newton's PV19 and PR206 combo because of its superior lightfastness. Be aware that the more common replacement - PR177 - is still prone to fading in it's diluted range but has a more stable masstone than PR83 had. The original PR83 pigment, by popular demand, is still offered by many brands though it is often appropriately labeled as fugitive LFIII to IV at this point.


---  Naphthol Red variants including PR112, PR170 and PR184 ---

These (similarly to PR177) have a tendency to fade in tints or when diluted with water. Often marked as LFII-III, can vary greatly based on pigment source and thickness of application.

Naphthol Red AS-D PR112 is sometimes called Naph Scarlet, Carmine or even Cadmium Red Hue. Rated LFII in acrylic/oil, LFIII in watercolor, with severe fading when diluted in any medium.

Naphthol Red AS PR170 also called carmine or crimson in some brands is rated as LFIII with scores as low as 4 on the Blue Wool Scale in tints. This pigment can vary chemically, with some brands having stronger lightfastness. The opaque form (F3RK) usually noted as PR170-F3RK on a label, is said to be the most lightfast version. I have seen this less fugitive "-F3RK" version used in student grade paints, such as Liquitex Basics acrylic.

PR206 PR202 Liquitex Basics Acrylic Alizarin Crimson Hue Permanent color separating granulating pigment shimmer metallic

White Nights watercolor uses the one that easily fades in tints/diluted, such as their pastel color "Rose Quartz:

pr170 pigment fading pigment database lightfast test watercolor paint

Naphthol Rubine PR184: Shinhan Korean Color (gansai-like watercolor paints) have a particularly fugitive mixture using this pigment (see PR3) called "Crimson 2". Neither PR184 nor PR3 remained on the paper after 1 year in a window. Brief daily sun erased them clean from existence.

(No individual PR184 sample, see PR3 mixture.) 


--- Benzimidazolone Carmine or Alizarin Crimson Hue PR176 ---

Offered by Lukas and Daniel Smith in watercolor form. Like many reds, this pigment suffers the most when diluted. It is easy for PR176 to pass most lightfast tests due to it's strength in masstone. It has a tendency to hue shift towards blue before fading completely when very watered down in long term tests.

pr176 lightfast test daniel smith carmine hue lukas alizarin crimson hue pigment fading 


--- Anthra Red (Anthraquinone) PR177 ---

  PR177 anthraquinone red fading fugitive lightfast test paul rubens madder anthra watercolor paint paul rubens madder red pr177 anthraquinone red scarlet fugitive not an alizarin crimson replacement

The use of PR177 is not very common as a single pigment red choice. It's rarely available as a red in pan set assortments, but it is used in convenience mixtures. The most popular of those mixtures is Daniel Smith's Moonglow which is rated as LFI however this is incorrect. PR177 has a tendency to be more stable in masstone, and it's original pigment rating stems from it's use in acrylic and oil paints. Diluted it is known to be closer to LFIII in watercolor paints (which is also reflected in the notes of other popular pigment database sites like Handprint and The Color of Art Pigment Database if you're looking for further tests/info).

Daniel Smith watercolor moonglow 1 year lightfast test window uv fugitive fading red pr177 pigment

In my test I can clearly see that the red component of this mixture has faded away after indirect general daytime window lighting within 1 year. Regarding Moonglow's LFI rating, this should have meant no changes within this time frame. I did notice that in Daniel Smith's materials, it's also commonly noted as "NR" in color charts and dot cards meaning "not rated in ASTM". This implies that at least one pigment was never thoroughly tested in all mediums/tints/diluted, yet they are passing along a guess (without testing it themselves? or have they...). It's hard not to feel like this is intentionally misleading. The comparison of how this color fades when up against paints they rated LFIV (poor lightfastness) concerns me:

Daniel Smith moonglow compared to opera pink and alizarin crimson lightfast test fugitive fading watercolor

Unfortunately in recent years this color has gained so much popularity among artists that this unusually color-separating and granulating mixture containing PR177 has been copied by other brands such as Da Vinci and Roman Szmal Aquarius (who also labeled them as lightfast). It's possible that a pigment manufacturer (such as Kremer Pigments, or a automotive coatings company) rated this pigment as highly lightfast after testing it in masstone in acrylic or oil paint, which could be a very different result from diluted watercolor.

PB29 PG18 PR177 Daniel Smith Moonglow Watercolor Lightfast Fugitive Pigment Database PB29 PG18 PR177 Da Vinci Artemis Moonglow Dupe Look-A-Like Watercolor PB29 PG18 PR177 Daniel Smith Moonglow Watercolor PAN versus Tube masstone

A note about Daniel Smith Moonglow "dupes" "knock-offs" "look-a-likes" vs "inspired by" paints by other brands. Daniel Smith has had a lot of success over the past decade and a great many watercolorists have celebrated their color-separating convenience mixtures. This has not gone unnoticed by other brands, and colors just like Daniel Smith's Moonglow, Shadow Violet and Imperial Purple are popping up in other brands catalogs. Sometimes the way these colors are named along with their mixtures is a fairly straightforward "dupe" or blatant mimicry. The closest Moonglow-like mixture in hue and pigments used is from Da Vinci which they called "Artemis". There are two other brands with similar colors to Moonglow - Roman Szmal Aquarius "Przybysz's Grey" which does include the PR177 and PB29 but swaps out the PG18 for Cobalt Green PG26.

PB29 PG18 Paul Rubens Tube Watercolor Royal Purple Swatch Card Color Chart 

*Shadow Purple likely includes PR177, but is not labeled*

The other similar color to Moonglow is Paul Ruben's Shadow Purple (which is named oddly considering P.Rubens also has a "Moonlight Purple" that is similar to D.Smith's Shadow Violet. Yes the names seem switched, more about that later under PO73.) This color contains more Ultramarine and leans more Blue than the other look-a-like paints. The big problem with Paul Rubens dupe is that it is incorrectly labeled as only containing PB29 and PG18 without any mention of the red it obviously contains. Is it PR177 just like Daniel Smiths? Probably, but it could also be a dye and therefore not disclosed under pigment info. 

Because each pigment manufacturer has access to different raw materials all of these paints vary in how they look and perform. Part of the issue for all of these paints is that some of the ingredients are natural minerals which change batch to batch or mine to mine. A pigment mined in one part of the world is never exactly the same as a pigment mined in other, for example red iron oxide the red rock of a mountain in Arizona may look completely different from one in Spain, yet will both be labeled as PR101 since they are chemically the same thing. In this regard, buying "dupes" or the same pigment code paints from multiple brands may actually be worthwhile if they are different enough.

Moonglow Daniel Smith watercolor color separation changing tube granulation lightfast fugitive 

Above: A problem that I noticed with color separating paints is the fact that they also separate within the tube over time. The lighter, thinner particle PR177 often separates out with the liquid binder away from the heavier PG18 Viridian and PB29 Ultramarine Blue. If you are not often mixing these back together (ideally a toothpick or a lot of kneading) each sample you remove from your tube will be gradually a different color. This means that some of your paintings may be much more fugitive than others (if the paint released from the tube that time had a higher content of PR177). Here is an extreme example of a tube that was allowed to sit for over a year. This of course would be less severe for less time/more frequent mixing, but is also something to be aware of when you see color comparisons online. It was not enough to knead/press on the tube, I had to put a toothpick in and thoroughly stir it back to it's original color. I recommend mixing your own version of this color using the single pigment ingredients (and perhaps Schmincke's "French Ultramarine" for the PB29 which has particularly active granulation texture) along with a more lightfast red or violet. I'll be doing some tests with PR122 and PV19 in the future.


--- Disazo Condensation Scarlet, also called French Vermillion PR242 ---

This pigment may vary slightly by brand. It's also more or less stable depending on the amount diluted. It appears to be very sensitive once it hits about 20% pigment to 80% water ratio. It appears to go from borderline lightfast when in masstone or slightly diluted, to completely fugitive when very diluted. Here is a one year lightfast test of White Nights Coral color, as well as Lukas Permanent Red:

pr242 lightfats test white nights watercolor 


--- Hansa Yellow PY1 ---

Much more prone to fading than the more common PY3, Hansa Yellow 10G. I have seen drastic fading in the diluted range of Paul Rubens "Yellow Light" PY1.

py1 hansa yellow fugitive watercolor lightfast test


--- Diarylide types of Yellow PY17, PY55 and PY83 ---

Several Asian watercolor companies (such as Paul Rubens, Superior and Shinhan) use PY83.

py83 arylide yellow pigment fugitive fading watercolor paul rubens shinhan superior

Shinhan Korean color uses PY17 in mixtures, such as in "Green Dark". It darkens slightly in masstone, but completely disappears when diluted with 50% or more water to pigment ratio.    


--- Aureolin (Cobalt) Yellow PY40 ---

  winsor and newton aureolin watercolor professional lightfast fading fugitive pigment PY40PY40 Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolor Aureolin Fugitive LFII Fading Lightfast Test PY40 Aureolin Cobalt Yellow Lightfast test fugitive fading discolor watercolor pigments to avoid

PY40 doesn't just fade, it discolors into a dull brownish gray. This can cause paintings to appear dirty as if they have suffered water damage over time and completely alter the artists original color harmony. (Test images show Winsor and Newton's then Daniel Smith's 1 year results.) While some companies still mark this paint as LFII, it is widely regarded as a pigment to avoid for traditional art for sale/wall display. With so many alternative yellow pigments out there, I would avoid Aureolin. Note that some brands have paints called "Aureolin" "Aureoline" "Aureolin Hue" etc. that have been updated to use a more lightfast pigment instead (such as White Nights or Rembrandt's Aureoline PY150). These new lightfast "hues" (a look-a-like replacement pigment) are often not suggested by the color name. This poor choice in wording may hurt the marketing on those colors for those who don't look at the pigment ingredient and just assume it's PY40.


 --- Arylide Yellow PY74 ---

PY74 is often used as a primary mixing yellow. While often independently rated high, this pigment can suffer in tints / diluted. In some colors, like Paul Rubens Yellow Green, where only a tiny amount of PY74 was mixed with PG36, the yellow part of this mix has totally disappeared over a year.

py74 yellow pigment fading fugitive lightfast test diluted not masstone

I prefer Sennelier's PY153 or Holbein's PY175 as mixing yellows instead. See my choices for top lightfast pigments here.


--- Methyl Violet PV3 ---

This fugitive pigment has been used in White Nights Russian watercolors (this will likely change, as they have been changing formulas in recent years to increase lightfastness) as well as some Asian watercolors like Shinhan from Korea. Toxic - this pigment has chemically been used as a way to kill mold and fungus. The old White Nights version darkens in masstone, but as shown by Shinhan Korean Color "Red Violet" below, it can fade when diluted. Inferior to PV19 or PR122, which could be mixed with a touch of blue or even PV23 Dioxazine Violet to replicate the color.

pv3 methyl violet pigment lightfast test shinhan watercolor fugitive 


Natural, Antiquity and uncommon mineral pigments: 


--- Natural Indigo Blue NB1 vs synthetic (chemical equivalent) PB66 vs Victoria Blue PB1 (also sold as "Indigo"). This mixture with PB29 Ultramarine Blue was fugitive despite adding a more stable blue into the mix:

pb66 indigo watercolor lightfast test fugitive blue pigment

The fugitive NB1 natural indigo is a blue flower processed for it's dye. When the juice from this plant is bound to salt particles it becomes solid enough to make "pigment" often called a laked pigment lake dye. NB1 and PB66 are not to be confused with Victoria Blue PB1 sometimes also labeled as "synthetic reproduction of Indigo". I found PB1 to be lightfast in Utrecht brand watercolor despite being rated LFIV and I have seen it used in brands like Blick / Grumbacher.


--- Van Dyke Brown NBr8 ---

Quite literally dirt brown, often made from soil, peat and any dark ground matter. Usually rated as fugitive. Currently testing exactly how fugitive. Offered by Holbein and Roman Szmal as watercolor.


--- Carmine or Cochineal NR4 ---

This red dye is laked from the cochineal insect. When the red fluid from this bug is bound to aluminum salt the dye is considered a pigment, a more solid sedimentary state. This pigment is commonly found in lipstick and other makeup products as well as a food colorant in licorice/red candy. It is sometimes used in watercolor such as less commonly used brands like China's Super Vision and Germany's Kremer Pigments. 


--- Rose Madder Genuine (root of the madder plant) NR9 ---

Also referred to as a lake pigment "Rose Madder Lake" (regarding "lake", see dyes below). Surprisingly durable in masstone, the majority of fading in this pigment is only when extremely diluted (at least 50% water to pigment ratio). Winsor and Newton Pro Watercolor:

NR9 rose madder genuine watercolor lightfast test winsor and newton professional paint 


--- Rarely used pigments - Mayan colors, Sicklerite, Rhodanite. ---

Four Daniel Smith "PrimaTek" colors. The "Mayan" colors are also available from Turner and pigment powder sources, all of which are weaker (sometimes being prone to streakiness/texture issues) as well as being less lightfast than desirable.

Made from minerals, gemstones and reproduction of ancient Mayan pigments not commonly used in any other brand or art material. Due to that, many of these types of colors do not have common pigment code numbers. The Mayan colors were rated as LFII, which is close but the diluted range is showing more significant fading than present in other LFII paints. Their website notes the Mayan colors as being dupes of colors that "despite exposure to severe heat and humidity, the color has hardly faded over a thousand years"... That was vague enough that I'm not sure that they meant outside walls, or inner caves/buildings and therefore protected from sunlight? They certainly faded from my window lighting.

Daniel smith fugitive watercolors primatek rhodonite sicklerite mayan blue and violet fading lightfast 

Modern reproductions of ancient Mayan colors: Supposedly environmentally friendly. Mayan Blue: LFII in masstone, but fading can be more severe when diluted LFIII-IV. Mayan Violet PV58: --- LFII in masstone, but fading can be more severe when diluted LFIII-IV. Mayan red also fades, but it is on par with LFII in diluted range.

Sicklerite: This brown mineral is rated LFI but has shown minor fading in over the 6 months to 1 year of nearby window light exposure. While minor, this is definitely closer to LFII level fading in masstone and can be LFIII diluted (blue wool scale indicates BW6, varies with diluted rate of at least 50% water).

Rhodonite: A beautiful pink stone that creates a delicate cool-red to pale-pink similar to PV42 Quin. Pink in its diluted range. It lacks the unique granulating, shimmer or color separating characteristics of Daniel Smith's other mineral paints. Combined with it's fading for a paint that is rated as LFI, I would pass on this one.





There are a few pigments that can change color or fade over time due to exposure to humidity, chemicals, changes in PH/acidity levels, and repeat heat exposure (such as sunlight even in beams that come into a room at sunset each day). Some colors, like Malachite, can also start their color change process (in this case from a cool green to a warm green-yellow) due to exposure to metal rollers or tubes at the factory, even if sold in plastic pans later.

Environmental changes have been detected in: PV14 Cobalt Violet, PG24 Ultramarine Green, Sodalite, Malachite, Vivianite and Azurite minerals.



--- PG24 Ultramarine Green Genuine --- 
A fugitive version of Ultramarine that went into production during the 1820s, but is no longer mass manufactured. This color is created as a step in the process of making Ultramarine Blue (before heating further with sulfur). With that in mind, it's possible that the sun's heat (not just UV light) is responsible for the hue shift in the lightfast test results:
Kremer Pigments watercolor ultramarine green pg24 pg55 fading fugitive lightfast test


Its popularity and demand dwindled by the 1960s. Kremer Pigments, a German based dry pigment supplier who also offers a small collection of rare ready-made watercolor paints, is the only large business currently offering PG24. It is very opaque and is similar to Cobalt Green Deep in masstone. The color separates to expose an ultramarine blue color when salt is applied, suggesting color separation as well as granulation when used in very wet washes. The green fades with UV exposure, almost entirely returning to a standard Ultramarine Blue color within 6 months of window light.


PG24 Kremer Pigments Ultramarine Green Ready Made Watercolor Paint Swatch Card


--- PV14 Cobalt Violet --- 

This color is one of the most bright purple-pinks available for a highly granulating color. It pains me to remove it from my palette due to its usefulness in florals and creating color separating mixtures. It's an expensive pigment that is sometimes hated by artists for being gummy and weak, but it offers a unique color range and textural mixing properties otherwise not possible with any other currently known pigment. Unfortunately I live in Florida and it is more important to me in a warm humid state to abandon the use of it than it would be if I lived in a cooler dry northern climate. Here are the lightfast test results and my conclusions about the problem with this pigment:

PV14 Cobalt Violet Pigment lightfast test Winsor and Newton watercolor davinci fading fugitive heat 

--- Sodalite, Malachite, Vivianite and Azurite ---
All have the potential to change in the pan/tube BEFORE painting. I have not seen these colors change on the page after painting, which leads me to believe that humidity plays a big role in the environmental color changes.


For example, the following image shows how the paint in the pan looked in 2016 compared to four years later painting from the same pan. No other colors in the 36 palette set had any changes in this time frame, only Sodalite was unstable with the humidity/ph/unknown chemical changes. This may not happen to you if your climate is cooler, more dry, different PH or certain chemicals in your surroundings.
Daniel Smith Sodalite Genuine watercolor pigment mineral primatek color change problem lightfast

In addition to my finding that Sodalite changed over time (elaborated upon on my Daniel Smith review page) I've also heard speculation that this mineral varies by batch. This is not the case in my sample, but it is also possible that people are getting a cool black with very little blue color from brand new tubes/pans. I did notice a negative review on Jackson's from someone who tried the dot card, loved the blue granulation and was upset to find that the tube she ordered was black-gray. See the paint availability and if that review is still up at Jackson's website here.



---  DYES (and sometimes "lake" pigments made from dyes) ---

The majority of DYE based products fade over time. Many dye colors show signs of fading in as little as a few days to weeks with nearby window lighting which is quite fast in contrast to stable pigments that can last many years with constant UV exposure. Dyes are an easy thing to avoid once you realize which products are prone to including them.

Dyes are available as printer inks, fountain pen inks, inside Copic and other  markers for illustration, as well as "liquid watercolors" that don't specifically state "pigment based" as well as craft supplies like ink sprays, rubber stamp pads, brush pens and alcohol inks. Dyes are also frequently slipped into pigment based products that are called opera,neon, bright or brilliant and marketed to professionals as "designer" paints that are abnormally vibrant. Dyes are capable of achieving bright neon colors artists might want for botanical, neons, street lights and other design elements that require fugitive fluorescent colors to replicate.

Dye ink fugitive lightfast test copic markers alcohol inks tim holtz ranger distress watercolor

Dyes are typically an intense or vibrant transparent liquid. Often man made, chemically altered or extracted for it's vibrant qualities. Dyes can be made in a lab and sometimes extracted from plants where the bright color is taken away from the rest of the plant matter in a liquid state. In this state it can be used to dye clothing (such as indigo dye), or similarly dye particles like salts and polymers to become thick enough to use in a paint (which is often referred to as a "lake pigment" meaning a dye coated base particle). On rare occasions a color named "--- lake" can be lightfast, but it's good to investigate any testing information on the specific one in question. In general dark dyes such as browns and blacks may be less prone to fading than bright pinks, reds and purples.

Dyes offer bright saturated color not typically found in lightfast natural minerals, so many people choose to use dyes even though they are fugitive because they offer vibrant colors that you can not achieve with more stable pigments. "Opera Pink" is very popular among botanical artists who otherwise struggle to replicate bright floral pinks

PR122 Fugitive Dye White Nights Watercolor Neon Pink Opera PR122 Winsor and Newton Watercolor Professional Opera Rose Neon Pink Fugitive Fluorescent Dye Swatch Card 

Some artists are not aware that they can be frequently found mixed in with pigment based watercolors, gouache and acrylic. Dyes are most frequently found in art supply products like "liquid" watercolors (ecoline, radiant), markers and alcohol ink. They are also used as a way to boost the vibrancy in all "FLUORESCENT" COLOR paints such as most brand's "Neon" colors or the super common "OPERA PINK" which = PR122 + DYE. It's the dye that is fugitive, not the PR122.

Daniel Smith opera pink potters mayan red lightfast test fugitive uv fading sun

Dyes are also common in "designers" gouache, liquid watercolors like ecoline, radiant, "watercolor brush pens", Copic markers, inks etc.

Opera pink fugitive watercolor fading lightfast test neon dye fluorescent BR1 BV10 BR1 BV11 BR12 

Opera Pink or Rose is also sometimes called Neon, Opus, Vivid Pink or colors starting with the word "Bright" or "Brilliant" in some brands. There is a lot of mystery around this watercolor because certain brands only disclose that it is made with the pigment PR122. Technically it's a pigment list, and in their opinion dye doesn't count as a pigment so it's not stated. Some label it as LFII, some say "NR" for not rated, others only LFIV or * of *** stars. By not disclosing the dye, they imply that it's PR122 that fades when it's actually the fluorescent dye mixed into it. Most commonly a vibrant red dye like BR1 or the bright pinkish violet known as "BV10" is added as a liquid to the binder. BV11, BR12 and other dyes are often found in designer gouache paints. These colors can drastically fade in a relatively short time even indoors from nearby window lighting. This fading varies by brand and how much dye was used with signs appearing in a few weeks to a few months. There is a problem with accurately color scanning dyes, which is bad for print reproduction. Cameras struggle to detect the same reflected light from the fluorescent dye that your eye can see. Often the scan or photograph will appear dull and need to have the brightness and contrast edited in computer software. 



 --- UPDATES ---

This page is currently in progress. I am running tests on over 500 colors from dozens of brands at this time. As results come in over the next year this page will continue to receive updates.

Happy painting,

Kimberly Crick 

Check out the pigment database if you'd like to learn more about pigments and how certain colors compare across different brands.

Want to know when something is added to this page? See Patreon.com/kimberlycrickart for swatch card and LF test result updates, line art drawings for practice painting and more.

I also make videos with painting demonstrations at YouTube.com/kimberlycrick  

Where do I shop for art supplies?

My favorite American art supply chain store is Dick Blick. They have a massive catalog and competitive prices, with quick shipping options here in the USA.

One of my favorite places to shop for a world-wide selection watercolor paint and brushes is Jackson's. They have affordable shipping to the USA and a lovely selection of items not easily found in American stores.

Amazon USA continues to offer more and more art and craft supplies that can be found no where else. They often have import sets, such as Chinese brands like Paul Rubens, that are not available in the more common art stores. This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


For craft supplies, such as Tim Holtz Distress or Alcohol Inks, Alt&New, Art Philosophy and Prima Marketing watercolors, alcohol or dye inks, stamp pads, markers etc. I shop at:


Scrapbook.com: Thousands of scrapbooking supplies. HUGE daily discounts!