View Full Version : Vermilion red. Is it better than cad/pyrrole?

10-23-2014, 06:29 AM
A lot of artists make a big deal about vermilion. I would like to test it out except it is extremely difficult to get. Has anyone compared it against a cad and pyrrole?

Is it better (more brighter/vibrant)?

10-23-2014, 06:54 AM
It has very high refractive index. ~3,5. This refractive index can be comparable with Opaque red iron oxide refractive index. It can give a very high gloss to a large pigment particles. Cadmiums have much less value.

Personally, I never have vermilion on my palette to try, not sure how it works.

10-23-2014, 09:05 AM
Real vermillion contains mercury which tends to darken considerably over time, and, as I understand it, will sometimes react with other paints containing metals. Any number of reds would substitute, and I believe several paint makers make a vermillion "hue," meaning it's put together from two or three other colors, but that it doesn't contain mercury.

10-23-2014, 04:47 PM
Vermilion is a beautiful red, but I never use it because it needs to be isolated (enclosed in varnish layers) to prevent it from reacting with some other pigments. This link to Kama Pigments explains how to mix the isolating varnish; see recipe #9:


10-23-2014, 07:00 PM
If you do searches on wet canvas.
There have been many discussions about vermillion.
It is a colour from days of lore.
For me personally, thats where it belongs. Cadmium vermilion is availible from serveral makers. Doak and blue ridge are two that jump to mind.

You can get a pretty good feel for it from past posts, good and bad.
Mostly bad, is what I took away.

If you get some, post your experince. Be careful, its very poisonous.


11-02-2014, 12:37 AM
Blue Ridge's cadmium vermilion (PR108) doesn't contain actual vermilion (PR106). It's just a cadmium red that borders on orange, and a really nice paint at that. At least a couple of other companies slip the word vermilion (Williamsburg, Old Holland) into the name of an orangish cadmium red. The only company I know of makes cadmium vermilion (PR113) is Vasari.

11-02-2014, 02:54 AM
Vermilion is different from cadmium red in three respects: it's not as lightfast; it's not quite as saturated (though vivid enough); and it has noticeably lower tinting strength. Those last two things make it much easier to control (especially in skin tones) and much more pleasurable to paint with IMO. If you're used to painting Zorn-palette portraits using cadmium red, give real vermilion a try instead. Huge difference. It's one of the all-time classics for sure.

Otherwise it is similar to cadmium red light or so - very opaque, slow dryer. Pretty tints.

Due to the high price of vermilion tubes, I buy dry pigment and mull my own. Vermilion mulls very easily.

Holbein has some not-completely-outrageous tubes, though they've fared pretty poorly in tests I've seen here. But they might be the easiest way to try vermilion out to see if you like it or not.