View Full Version : What is the difference between a pigment mix and a hue? (acrylic paints)

04-29-2015, 09:12 AM
I have been told that if I want the best results I should stay away from "Hues" when choosing acrylic paints.

As far as I can tell, hues are mixtures that approximate the color of genuine pigments.

On some paints it doesn't have the word "hue" in any of the color names, but looking at the index number it says it's a mixture of pigments.

For example:

Burnt Sienna (Index: PBr7 PR101) <-- mixture of two pigments
Emerald Green (Index: PW6 PB15 PG7) <-- mixture of three pigments

These paints don't say "hue" in the name, but the index number shows it is a mixture of pigments.

So are these Hues? Or is a hue something else?

04-29-2015, 09:59 AM
Hues are less pure because they are mixes. A Cadmium light hue is not going to act the same in other color mixes as a real Cadmium light. Often hues are made with inferior pigments also which may not be archival. That said a hue might be perfectly acceptable, just confirm that the pigments used are lightfast and keep in mind the paint won't mix the same way as a pure pigment.

The other paints that are a mixture of pigments are a different subject, they are mainly for convenience. Again, they are fine to use if the pigments used are archival. I personally try to avoid paints that are mixtures but that's just because I value consistency over convenience.

04-29-2015, 03:03 PM
Yes, Hues are mixed pigment paints, but not every color is designated with "hue" in the name. The main reason for this is that paints using the "hue" name are usually trying to replicate another color, while ones without the name are designed to be their own unique mix. The only exception to this rule of "being it's own paint" is if you're using a cheap acrylic. A good way to tell if you paint is too cheap is if the price doesn't vary by color. Artists and Professional acrylics will have a "series" number based on how expensive the pigment is. Single pigment paints are usually more expensive, while mixes are less.

04-29-2015, 03:34 PM
Yes I went to a painting workshop last fall and was gently upbraided for bringing cobalt blue hue to the class instead of cobalt blue. It seemed to work fine for me, but at my level I probably just don't know better. I asked for a tube of the real deal for Christmas but haven't cracked into it yet. Will use up the rest of my tube of the 'hue' before trying out the real thing. Then we'll see. It is quite a bit more costly than the generic substitute.

04-29-2015, 09:25 PM
Thanks for the help guys.

So in the examples above, those are not hues?

And is the only way to tell is if it has "hue" in the name? How else can I check?

04-29-2015, 11:51 PM
Remember "Hue" only means that it's a combination of pigments imitating another pigment, usually one that is expensive or toxic, such as a cadmium, cobalt or cerulean. If it doesn't have "hue" after the name it means it's either a pure pigment or it's a specialty color that is made up of a combination of pigments but is not trying to imitate a pure pigment.

04-30-2015, 08:20 AM
How else can I check?

Focus on the pigments as opposed to the color names because there are no standards for color names.

For example, Hansa Yellow Medium by Golden Paints uses the same PY73 as Utrecht's Azo Yellow Medium. If you don't see the pigment on the tube or jar, buy something else.

As a general rule, the single pigment modern/organic colors are brightest out of the tube while the single pigment minerals are duller and more opaque. For secondary colors the factory mixes are brighter and probably more consistent than colors you can mix yourself.