View Full Version : PG17?, PY43?, PBr7?, ????

12-17-2001, 05:13 PM
Tell me in simple terms.... what do these symbols mean to me and how can they help me? Not just these symbols, but all those that designate different colors. Sigh... I know I am supposed to know this.

12-17-2001, 06:48 PM
These codes are used to identify specific pigments used in producing the paint. They are supposed to meet industry standards as to purity and accuracy of color, etc. Knowing which they are will assure you that you are getting what you paid for. Hence if you are buying a Naples Yellow, it must show the proper true Naples yellow code. Otherwise, you are buying something that looks like NY but is really made with other ingredients. Also, if you are buying a mixed color, you can tell the component pigments. Often you will find you already have the colors on your palette to achieve the pre-mixed tube color. Save your money, unless you find you use this mixture alot and the pre-mix will save you time. And, knowing something about the various pigments will tell you about their permanence, transparency, toxic nature, etc., thus their usefulness for your purposes. I suspect you would want to know these things about your materials.

Consistently using the same pigments will help you get control of your palette. If they are changing without you knowing it, this could cause alot of frustration and confusion. Knowledge is power, and being careful with your materials will only benefit you.

12-17-2001, 07:53 PM

12-17-2001, 09:03 PM
In the "Show us your color palette" thread, Einion gives the color symbols and names for his colors, but I was wondering... where would one get a list of all the colors as per industry standards?

12-19-2001, 06:27 AM
I don't know of any actual complete list, though if you were to search with a search eengine I'm sure you could find one.

Go to http:www.winsornewton.com and near the bottom, click on "Oil Color Book". In there you'll find a list of pigments in their paints. That's a good place to start. For more technical
and complete pigment info go to: http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/waterfs.html
This is for watercolors but much of it applies to oils and acrylics too. It has tremendous technical info on pigments.

12-19-2001, 07:21 AM
:) Thanks, everyone.

I was thinking.... (and that is dangerous) I wish someone would volunteer to put togeher an article on this. Any takers... I'd be glad to help with the actual building but someone would need to do the content.

12-29-2001, 04:14 AM

the artist's handbook of materials and techniques has a complete listing of all the color nomenclature w/charts. it explainsa the chemical breakdown, lightfastness, intesity, etc.

i would be happy to send scans for the lists, as the charts should really be included in this...let me know.


12-30-2001, 10:29 PM
Also, any of the Michael Wilcox books on paints specify which code goes with which paint.

12-31-2001, 03:03 PM
llis, sorry, I didn't spot this thread when you first started it otherwise I would have posted sooner.

I want to clarify a few points mentioned above. The numbers such as PG17, Pigment Green 17, are what is called the Colour Index Name, in this case for Chromium Oxide Green. There is also a five-digit Colour Index Number which more-precisely defines the given pigment as there are a number with allowable variations that can be listed under the same Colour Index Name, a good example of this are the red and blue shades of Dioxazine Purple (Carbazole Violet), PV23RS and PV23BS, which vary slightly in hue and lightfastness.

The Colour Index Names are a useful shorthand to define a colour where there are traditional names for it, plus possibly any proprietary names as well as multiple possible chemical descriptive terms for it like dioxazine/carbazole above, plus azo/arylide/hansa, phthalo/phthalocyanine/monestial etc. In the case of a colour I commonly call Azo Yellow Light, PY3, this is Arylide Yellow 10G, (called variously by manufacturers Eljon Yellow 10GE, Acosil Yellow 3, Dalamar MA Yellow YT-828-d, Hansa Yellow 10G, Solintor Yellow 10G, Pintasol Yellow E-L1, Monolite Yellow 10GE HD, Kenalake Yellow 10G)!

It is important to remember that in many cases it is nothing more than a rough guide to the colour inside the tube: pigments vary considerably from manufacturer to manufacturer. The wide range of values and hues in Cerulean Blue is a good example but one of my favourites is PV19 which can vary from a bright, clean red to a deep violet so when the colour is listed with a proprietary name like Brilliant Red, Permanent Rose, Violet Extra or whatever you need to check the contents for yourself.

Even when listed, regrettably the CIN is not a guarantee of pigment quality or purity, it is simply a guide to the specific pigment(s) used. In the case of manufacturers with a good reputation one could take for granted that a known reliable pigment supplied by them is of good quality but unfortunately there are exceptions (in watercolours, Hilary Page's book, the Handprint site and The Wilcox Guide provide ample evidence of this).

TPS raises a good point and one which I have made to friends on numerous occasions, that if you like a colour that turns out to be a simple mix of pigments you already have on your palette, just mix it yourself and save the extra money! The many convenience green mixtures in the marketplace today, plus Payne's Grey, Indigo, Sepia and Blue Black are my bÍte noirs, especially since most are simple two-colour mixes.

Hope this is helpful,

P.S. The pigments commonly used in artists' paints vary with supply and demand so any list is necessarily going to become out of date to some extent over time. The disappearance of Benzimidazolone Maroon and Manganese Blue are good examples of colours once popular that are now no longer demanded in industry and hence hard or impossible to find, not to mention the dwindling stocks of most of the natural earths we all treasure.