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YELLOW Art Supply Pigment Database Watercolor Acrylic Ink Pencil Color Chart Swatch
Artist reference guide to Yellow pigments in art supplies. Color chart swatch cards of common pigments in watercolor, gouache and acrylic. Includes lightfast or fugitive information, index by pigment number code, brand, manufacturer color name, how the color appears in masstone (full strength) or diluted (with water). Each image displays opacity, lifting (erasing with a damp brush), layering (testing the value limit of masstone by glazing a second coat after the first has dried). The largest area shows how smooth of a gradient you can achieve in a wet wash as well as a salt reaction test for confirming color separation, particle size or binder issues.
PY1 Hansa Yellow G: Fugitive pigment (fluctuates BW5/LFIII, as low as LFV if very diluted). PY1 has incredibly increased UV stability in masstone, which may allow thickly applied mediums like acrylic to go great periods of time without fading. While still common in student (Superior, Sonnet) and bargain price watercolors, this pigment has been removed from most professional lines. Paul Rubens, Rosa Gallery and ShinHan still offer this and generally more fugitive options than other paint makers (intended for "designers" /print making). White Nights recently removed this ingredient from their catalog (replacing it with the more stable PY154). This is just one of many pigments to be removed as they continue to focus on fixing lightfastness problems within their line. Hansa Yellow G was first synthesized & produced in Germany in 1911 and was quite popular for many years, but PY3 has become more common at this point since it has better UV stability in tints. Transparent, slightly staining, good mid-yellow for primary mixing. Non-hazardous.
PY3 Hansa Yellow 10G: While typically lightfast, there have been batch to batch issues with fading even in respectable pro grades like Golden/Qor. In their studies they have found that PY3 varies in UV stability, varying wildly both by brand and by each ingredient batch. Also known as Lemon Yellow or Hansa Yellow Light. Typically lightfast (LF II / BW 7) but there have been instances of LFIII-IV results. Because of the unreliable nature of this paint, it's good to test each new tube you purchase. I will be posting my test results in the future, but have temporarily switched to the slightly more opaque lemon yellow PY175. An even brighter, non-toxic hue alternative to Cadmium PY35 could also be PY184 if you are seeking additional options. PY1 Hansa Yellow 10G has origins dating back to the early 1900's in Germany, and was intended to be a replacement for the Cadmium yellows used at that time, non-hazardous.
PY12 Benzidine Yellow G:
PY14 Diarylide Yellow AAOT: LFIII-V. Rarely used in professional paints, sometimes offered in printing inks. This pigment is fugitive, fluctuating stability by brand and tint (highly sensitive to being diluted). I have found it in Prima Marketing (Art Philosophy) brand watercolors marketed to the craft supplies market (beginners/card making).
PY17 Diarylide Yellow 17: A fugitive yellow often found in designer or student paint mixtures. It will cause these mixtures to lose their warmth over time, as PY17 is extremely sensitive when used sparingly/diluted/tints. Not ideal as a mixing yellow, as it's sensitivity to UV increases substantially as the pigment particles are spread out (once diluted by 50% or more water or other colors).
PY35 Cadmium Yellow: A lightfast yellow with minor toxicity and some opacity. This color can range from bright lemon yellow, deep yellow to nearly orange. While the appearance varies based on the manufacturing process and ratios of secondary trace elements, it's nearly always an overpowering strong mixer with some degree of opacity. Because of its cloudy nature, it may not be a good choice for those who like to layer/glaze. It can not reach a deeper value color like multiple layers of transparent paints can.
PY37 Cadmium Yellow:
PY40 Aureoline: Fugitive. Also called Cobalt Yellow or Aureolin. This pigment has a LFII rating, and is more stable in oil or acrylic binder than it is in watercolor form. Avoid this pigment in all paints (it will discolor over time in tints) but especially in watercolor paints where there is no waterproof sealer, as PY40 has increased fading when exposed to both UV and humidity. Over the course of a year lightfast test Daniel Smith's Cobalt Yellow (Aureolin) has started to discolor towards a dirty grayish brown hue. This would cause artwork to look dark and dirty where it was previously a brighter cheery yellow before.
PY42 Yellow Iron Oxide:
PY43 Natural Yellow Iron Oxide:
Goethite: A yellow ochre earth pigment also called "brown ochre". Daniel Smith watercolors have carried this pigment for many years and claim it to be a form of PY43. Roman Szmal added this color to their catalog in 2020 with the note "Pbr?" as if they were uncertain. At this time it is grouped with PY43 with Daniel Smith's version. This pigment is lightfast, granulating and has minor color separation in wet washes. Particularly suited for sandy beaches and landscapes, it's also a pleasant mixing color for natural greens when paired with pigments like Ultramarine or Phthalo Blues.
PY47 Lead Titanate: *Note: This toxic, lead based, pigment is extremely unlikely to have been used in the following Prima Confetti mixture. It's more likely that their product has a typo on it. Prima / Art Philosophy brand has many of their products made from them overseas in China or Korea and have notoriously suffered from typos and mistakes on their labels.
PY53 Nickel Antimony Titanium Yellow Rutile:
A lightfast pale lemon yellow that ranges from opaque to semi opaque. Not ideal for layering/glazing. Fairly weak in mixtures, it easily dilutes from it's opaque state with the addition of too much binder or water, resulting in a milky yellow with a subtle chalk-like appearance. I prefer PY175 as an alternative to the toxic Cadmium Yellow PY35 for the bright cool yellow slot on my personal palette.
PY65 Hansa Yellow 65:
PY74 Arylide Yellow 5GX:
PY81 Diarylide Yellow H10G:
PY83 Diarylide Yellow HR:
PY97 Diarylide Yellow FGL:
PY109 Isoindole Yellow:
PY109 and PY110 are deep yellows often used for "Indian Yellow" or "Gamboge" named paints. Some brands have texture issues. This pigment can be gritty and repel water in watercolor pans. It can be a difficult pigment to mull for handmade watercolors. Lightfast.
PY110 Isoindolinone Yellow:
PY119 Zinc Iron Yellow:
Lightfast, opaque, orange-brown (looks similar to burnt sienna browns or a yellow-leaning terra cotta clay). Sinks in mixtures for easy color separating effects. It can be very granulating when the pigment is coarse (Winsor and Newton) and very smooth when finely ground as seen in Schmincke and Shinhan (Korean Color, a Gansai hide-glue style watercolor). I enjoy Winsor and Newton's Magnesium Brown as a slightly more yellow option compared to the very similar PBr11 (see Roman Szmal Aquarius Brown and Daniel Smith's Lunar Earth). PBr11 is offered with even larger particles with more active granulation, so look to PY119 when you want the more subtle option.
Recommended pigment (or PBr11) as discussed on my top lightfast palette choices page. Particularly useful in color separating mixtures, where the flecks of orange to yellow-brown sink in wet washes while most other pigments disperse further. Mixed with a transparent green (or a combination of PY150 Nickel Azo Yellow and PB15 Phthalo Blue) you can replicate the appearance of Daniel Smith's rare mineral pigments like Serpentine and Green Apatite. NOTE: I suspect that Winsor and Newton's Magnesium Brown is actually a form of PBr11 being sold as PY119 in error. It behaves more like a finely ground PBr11 in addition to being noted as Magnesium based (like PBr11) not Zinc based like PY119 should be.
PY120 PV Fast Yellow H2G: Rarely used pigment, available as Scheveningen Yellow Medium in Old Holland Watercolor. Fugitive with similar brown-grey hue shifts as PY40 Aureolin. Can discolor further or fully disappear when diluted in high heat or humid environments, causing fluctuating results in window lightfast testing.
PY128 Azo Condensation Yellow: Lightfast. Staining. Also see PY129.
PY129 Irgazin Yellow:
Lightfast, staining, high chroma, strong in mixtures similar to PY150 Nickel Azo Yellow. PY128 and PY129 can be called "Green Gold" in some paint brands. This color is lovely, helpful in botanical art particularly when mixed with Phthalo Greens or Blues or more natural looking sunlit greens. However, this color is not necessary on a palette due to the ease in which PY150 replaces it in mixtures and can easily replicate both PY128 and PY129 in hue when mixed with a touch of PG7 and any brown (see Sennelier and Holbein's PY150 mixtures).
PY138 Quinophthalone Yellow: Uncommon pigment found in Daler Rowney, Daniel Smith and Roman Szmal. Not extensively used enough to know about long term art problems. Lightfast testing in progress.
PY139 Isoindoline Yellow:
PY150 Nickel Azo Yellow:
Highly recommended pigment (see top colors list for what is in my palette here). One of the only truly transparent and lightfast yellow pigments available. This yellow is staining and ideal for layering/glazing mixtures. It has an amazing value range spanning from a borderline-brown honeycomb color to a brighter mid-yellow when diluted. Makes realistic floral greens when mixed with Phthalo Blue or Green. Commonly mixed with PO48 to make a "Quin Gold" color, a hue replacement for the discontinued PO49 color that went out of production years ago. May have minor toxicity and possible allergic reactions for those sensitive to Nickel as a heavy metal. This should not be a problem unless you soak in or ingest these paints.
Brand notes: Most brands are very similar, only varying minorly in pigment load which makes them appear more or less brown, but they dilute to a similar lighter yellow. However I have noticed an oddity in Mission Gold where my swatches checked about 6 months to a year later have started to shift towards green. I would have assumed this was a fluke, if it weren't for Denise Soden of In Liquid Color confirming the same experience in her PY150 YouTube video. Because of that I would avoid Mission Gold's version for professional art. All of my other brand's swatches have retained their original color. Watercolor brands not shown below: M. Graham's version is strong, but slightly prone to streakiness due to the dense honey formula. Rembrandt's version is slightly weak, making it hard to achieve a deep masstone similar to W&N in a dry pan.
PY151 Benzimidazolone Yellow H4G:
PY153 Nickel Dioxime Yellow:
PY154 Benzimidazolone Yellow 154:
PY155 Benzimidazolone Yellow 155:
PY159 Zirconium Praesodymium Silicate Yellow:
PY164 Manganese Antimony Titanium Buff Rutile:
PY174 Irgalite Yellow LBT:
PY175 Benzimidazolone Yellow H6G: Lightfast, semi-transparent. Hue can vary from a very vibrant lemon yellow suitable for replacing the more toxic Cadmium Yellows, to a more dull banana yellow. RECOMMENDED PIGMENT: Winsor and Newton as well as Holbein make bright versions, ideal as a cool lemon primary mixing yellow (see my palette list here). I did not enjoy the dull versions by Daniel Smith and Schmincke. More transparent than PY184, another common choice for a cool yellow primary option.
PY183 Paliotol Yellow K227:
PY184 Bismuth Vanadate Yellow:
Lightfast. Sometimes used as a cool lemon yellow primary mixing color, as it is a non-toxic alternative to Cadmium Yellow. However, its opacity makes it less desirable for layering/glazing in watercolor.
PY216 Solaplex Yellow:
Lightfast. Rare pigment offered by just a handful of major watercolor manufacturers. Similar to the warm reddish yellow ochre of PBr24. Opaque.
PY227 NTP Yellow:
SY33: Rare pigment (proprietary to Turner Japan).
I would avoid it. Initial tests show this pigment fades over time despite being self-rated as 3/3 stars by Turner. It also has a very unfortunate texture, very binder heavy and gelatin-like (Jello?). Hard to control (gloopy) with a wet brush.
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 most often purchase my art supplies online at Jackson's or Blick art materials.
The following affiliate links are to places I have purchased my 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: (in progress)
Daniel Smith watercolors -- available onDB,JackorAma.
Rosa Gallery can usually be found at Etsy.com for the USA and ArtMiranda Spain.
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