View Full Version : Comparing colours on different Brands.

01-08-2008, 04:22 PM

Because the Senneliers are very good and i wont to paint only with this Brand , i had try to compare each color by name or by testing on a paper so i can put away the van goghs with the same color.

But as i see is very difficult:evil: . Most color names are different.
From the colors which have the same name, the most dont have the same color after testing:evil: .

a few exampels: RAW/burnt umber senn. 35/34 are totally another colors as RAW/burnt umber on van goghs:confused: :confused: .

Orange on Van goghs is the same color as Yellow Deep on Sennelier.:crying:

How is this to explain?

PS: As i see in van goghs oilpastel is something wrong...same colors,(after closely testing) have different names:envy: :envy:

Pat Isaac
01-08-2008, 04:41 PM
It is hard to match colors by brands as the pigments vary in amount and intensity. I would tend to think that the professional brands are using more pigment, so the colors are not quite the same. I am not sure of all the chemical differences in the OPs, but I would use the colors you like in the Senns and not be too concerned with matching them to the VanGoghs.
Does this make sense?


01-08-2008, 05:12 PM
Nico, even in oil paints, acrylic paints, and watercolor paints, you cannot compare them by name because names are subjective. In one brand it may be called "scarlet," in another brand the same color might be called "rose." It used to scare me that OPs were not easily correctable in paintings but I have learned how to wipe off so I can do over if I can't correct the problem by putting more OP on top and I'm not afraid of putting down the "wrong" color or wrong value any more. So now I have my "school set" (because they're small and travel well) and my "home set" of professional OPs. If I really need the right color I will use it no matter what set it is stored in...and that's my point. Use the color you need, it doesn't matter what it's called.

01-08-2008, 05:14 PM
I have found a few of my Senneliers are close to some of my Holbein Artist OPs, but in general there are subtle differences. It is true in oil paints, too, that the paints with same name vary in colour from one brand to another. Just think of it as you have more colours to choose from, remembering that the Van Goghs are probably best as a first layer. I have made colour charts of all my OPs so that I can look at the chart when I want a specific colour. Jane

01-14-2008, 02:20 PM
:confused: :confused:
As a "newbie" and aging beginner making their first post to any forum, I am reluctant to comment since there are probably so many more knowlegeable participants.

Hoping that it is true that art can be learned and is not a trait you are born with or not, I have tried almost every major brand and grade of OPs. It seems to me that one should be reluctant to say Brand X is the best vs. others. Each has its own characteristics and functionality. While Sennelier may be great for finishing touches or if you are inclined toward a heavily blended style, Specialists may be more suited for field sketching and developing underpaintings (along with Holbeins) that do not smudge or muddy as easily as softer varieties. Even within a particular brand, I find certain colors have a slightly different feel than others. Some are especially creamy in application and others are stiffer and more granular. A colorist vs. a tonal approach may require different characteristcs.

I'm no artist (yet), but what seems clear to me is that while everyone, myself included, wants to dash off that first great masterpiece, I'm learning that lots of tedious doodling with the media and sometimes tediuous, boring excercises in making color charts on various types and colors of supports is necessary to understand even a well explained demonstration such as that Pat gives.

Unfortunately, lots of folks admit almost anyone can do good art; I've never seen anyone seriously suggest it is quick, easy, and effortless. I buy books that cover the same topic and each one gives me a little different take on materials and methods. Having recently retired, I hope to spend time seeing if it's true that you can eventually develop painting and drawing skills if you work at it. I hope so.

Now -- This is a beginner's take on some of the most common and better
OP brands and what I have discovered by playing around with them. All of this is just my personal, relatively untrained, opinion but I hope it might be helpful to someone else trying to figure out all the names, brands, etc. (By the way, while getting into art doesn't have to take a fortune in materials and equipment, be aware that it easily can do so if you get bitten by the bug and find you want to try everything. Fun, but not cheap!).

Round, Soft, creamy, almost lipstick like consistency. 120
colors. Good selection of grayed colors.

Square, firmer, creamy, but not so much as Sennelier.
Expensive; however come in plastic cases of 5 values
of particular color in larger sets. Complete set of 225 colors
in wooden case around $400 on sale.


Portfolio- Watersoluble, student grade in 24 colors. Have a
consistency similar to holbein, but fatter, round sticks.

Traditional round stick, OP; student grade pigments 24 color
set commonly available. Consistency similar
to VanGogh, somewhat stiff and more granular in application
unless you use consideral pressure.

Artist quality pigment, complete set of 88 square sticks
(2 black, 2 blender, 2 titanium white) in very nice wooden
with a removable top tray that fits in lid to expose full set.
Consistency firm, stiff, granular in application without
considerable pressure. Can get full set for about $100

Round, firm sticks. Have only bought open stock and not
familiar with sets and color availability. Similar to Craypas

Caran d'Ache

Smaller round sticks that come in 96 shades and are made
in Switzerland by Caran d'Ache. These are relatively
but I find them to have excellent working properties. They
are creamy, smooth, but not quite as soft as the Sennelier.
Because they have a smaller diameter, they fit into large
opennings of sharpernes (hand) and can be worked to a fine
point for detail work (although those expensive shavings
are a bit painful to watch). The full set of 96 comes in a
sturdy tin with inner tin removable tray that fits in lid to
expose full set. Whoever designed these REALLY LOVES
Olive since there are seven shades of Olive alone, along
with about a dozen other greens and blue greens ranging
from bright yellowgreen to deep greens. Also strong
range of earth tones and rusty reds. I really like these.

NeoColor II-
Crayon form, water soluble wax pastels that come in
120+ colors. Artist grade and distinctly different from
NeoColor I (I have not used these) which are NOT
water soluble.

These are Very Fat sticks of water soluble Wax pastel in
60 colors. The can easily be used as gouache or
pans as well as used as sticks for making marks or
covering large areas with color. Crayon like consistency
but seem to have higher pigment density.

Problem of color names vs. pigments

Color names vary, but I believe that all of these either have the name of the Pigment(s) used and lightfastness indicated directly on the stick (Specialist) or in the color chart available at their website online.

If you wish to really understand (more than you want to know, but very
interesting) about what colors and pigments made to use them are and
some history behind the various colors you should get a copy of An Artist's
Color Manual by Simon Jennings. He explains clearly the REAL namiing systen for Pigments found in all type of media, not just OP. He gives an
explanation and charts of the Color Index (CI) name that is standard
for naming the chemicals that go into making the colors (sometimes a single pigment, other times several mixed to give a certain color). The CI names look something like PYxxx (Pigment Yellow where xxx is upto a three digit code for a particular chemical pigment). PBxxx (Blue) POxxx (Orange), PRxxxx(Red) PVxxx (violet), PGxxx (green), PBrxxx (Brown), PBkxxx (Black)
PWxxx (White). These are standard, but even the same pigment combinations used by different manufacturers can vary in proportions and thus tone differences. However, if you look at the CI codes for the pigments you will have a better idea of what exactly the "fashionable" color names really mean.

In the back of Jenning's book is a useful set of charts that show specific color names from various manufacturers of mostly oil or acrylic paints and sample swatches side by side to illustrate the kind of variation you can explect. This is an excellent book.

For a more elaborate treatment of all media, materials, and basic techniques from drawing to all type of painting, supports, brushes, pallettes, etc. get The New Artist's Manual: The complete guide to painting, and drawing materials and techniques. (Chronicle Books) also by Simon Jennings.

I hope I have violated any forum etiquette with such a long post. Thanks!


01-14-2008, 03:41 PM
Hi Bill. That's a very nice summary you've given, which is consistent with my (beginner's) experience with the materials (where I've tried them). There is one error: Portfolios are made by Crayola, not CrayPas. Thanks also for the book references; I had wondered where the pigment names had come from. Let me be the first to welcome you to the OP forum.

Pat Isaac
01-14-2008, 03:44 PM
Thanks, bill for your extensive assessment of the different OPs. It is quite true that there are differences in the feel of colors within the same brand and even the same color. Different batches, I suppose.
You do have to experiment and practice, all the time.
Hope you post some of your OPs.
Do you have a preference?


01-14-2008, 03:44 PM
excellent information! No apologies are necessary :)

Marsias...as others have mentioned, it takes time playing with each stick to understand how it will interact with other colors, how it will appear differently on different surfaces, and how the consistency will respond in varying temperatures. When I'm purchasing new colors, I usually make a mark on a white surface to see what happens. This tells me a lot more than reading the color "name" given by the manufacturer.

(I once had a horrible brownish red colored carpet in my home but I gave it the name "English Rose" and everyone else loved it!) LOL


Pat Isaac
01-14-2008, 03:45 PM
Thanks, Bill for your extensive assessment of the different OPs. It is quite true that there are differences in the feel of colors within the same brand and even the same color. Different batches, I suppose.
You do have to experiment and practice, all the time.
Hope you post some of your OPs.
Do you have a preference?


01-14-2008, 03:54 PM
Welcome to the OP forum, Bill. Thanks for posting your experience with the different brands. I think we each have a favorite(s), depending on how we like to work. As Carly says, the paper or support you use interacts with the OPs brands for different effects. It's good that you are experimenting to find what you prefer. Jane

01-14-2008, 04:31 PM
Thank you, Bill, for your very informative post and for including your references. Hopefully, you will expand on this by also assessing the various surfaces available.


Pat Isaac
01-14-2008, 04:44 PM
Jane has covered many surfaces in the tools and materials thread, but there may be more.


01-14-2008, 05:38 PM
Hi Bill. That's a very nice summary you've given, which is consistent with my (beginner's) experience with the materials (where I've tried them). There is one error: Portfolios are made by Crayola, not CrayPas. Thanks also for the book references; I had wondered where the pigment names had come from. Let me be the first to welcome you to the OP forum.

:eek: That's what I get for writing from memory. You are correct that Portfolios are manufactured by the company that makes Crayola. :o .
I might also mention that Staedler makes a wax watersoluble crayon product similar to Neocolor II, although I have not used them much or know much about their characteristics.

Thanks for pointing out my error!

I am amazed at how nice people are in the forums I have browsed. It is so refreshing from many of the seemingly contentious and argumentative exchanges I have seen on forums on other web sites. Frankly, this is the first time I have ever felt comfortable enough to post something even though I have been a computer media freak for years. I hope to go through my mountain of digital images and put some in the reference photo file. Just went to Russia last summer and have some beatiful images from Moscow, St. Petersburg and a 7 day cruise between on the Volga Baltic Riverway.

Thank you for the warm welcome.

:wave: :)

Pat Isaac
01-14-2008, 05:43 PM
Wow, what a nice trip, Bill. We are possibly considering a trip down the Volga this summer, but are unsure yet because of family situations. It certainly sounds like a wonderful experience. Some of our friends are definitley going.

01-18-2008, 12:20 PM
Bill, I totally agree with you about the Neo Pastels. this December I bought the whole set and I use them exclusively now. Love the "limited" color range and seems to fit in perfectly with my way of working. The hardness is somewhere between craypas and holbines. Good texture.

01-18-2008, 02:07 PM
For anyone interested, I just bought a new book yesterday: "Artist's Colour Manual" by Simon Jennings published by Harper Collins. Although there is not a lot about oil pastels in it the book has loads of pictures and information on pigments and colours as well as pigment standards and the Colour Index International. I think it would be very useful for the beginning artist as well as the professional. Has anyone else seen this book and what do you think?


01-18-2008, 08:04 PM
Oops, I just noticed that "Artist's Colour Manual" had already been mentioned in Bill's post. I thought I remembered having seen it mentioned somewhere and now I know. Anyway, thank you Bill and it's a very good book.


01-19-2008, 12:03 AM
Lindsay: It's nice to know that someone else has had the same experience with the Neopastels. The color range is limited, but quite ideal for landscape. I think that Holbeins, Neopastel and Sennelier as well as CPSpecialists are all good for various purposes. But I really do like the Neopastels and their feel.

01-19-2008, 12:06 AM
Don't worry Wendell, there's so much info in here that it is easy to miss lots of things. I really like Jennings New Artists Manual as well and it complements the color manual with information on all sorts of media and techniques.

01-27-2008, 01:25 AM
Just the same issue when I used two diferent burnt sienna oil paints. One was more tan when i mixed it with white and the other was more redish-grayish when I mixed it in with white. If you are on a project and need a specific color, it is best to stick with the same brand because a different brand might be slightly different than the other brand.

01-27-2008, 05:40 PM
Thank you, Bill. I will consider neopastels after your recommendation. If you want to examine a full explanation of colors and their differing pigments, you might want to go to www.handprint.com. It is devoted to watercolor, but pigments and colors are the same across the spectrum, if comparing colors is your goal.


01-28-2008, 06:49 PM
:wave: Paula: I hope you find that the NeoPastels meet your expectations. It seems that everyone's taste is different for the feel and consistency of the OP's. I hope I haven't led you astray:eek: I have tried all sorts and they seem to work best (which isn't saying that much) for me.

However, all the other Artist brands are good and have their place. While I'm just a beginner, I have found out how important it is to try different materials. :confused: There are so many brands out there.

A new brand I just saw at jerrysartarama.com is a 92 color set (wooden box) for about $70. The catalog page has a number you can order for a FREE set of, I think, 4 sticks just to try them out and see if you like them!!!!! That certainly can't be beat (although I'm sure there would be shipping charges, but if you are buying something else it might be worth trying!!!!

I took a quick look at your web site and found it interesting. I also stumbled upon a link by accident that led me to a think called Kuler Desktop using their scripting technology called AIR. Here's a link http://kuler.adobe.com

When you get there you are greeted by various color schemes people have created. If you select CREATE on the left side screen menu, an interactive colorwheel appears that allows you to use various color harmony rules (anaologous, complementatry, shades, triads, etc), set a base color and then drag the color components around the perimeter to alter the hue, or toward the center to alter the tone. Didn't spend a lot of time with it be it seemed interesting and helped see how color harmonies change dynamically within the context of the colorwheel. Kind of :cool: .

Let me know what you think about the NeoPatels (be careful of what you order since NeoColor I, Neocolor II, and NeoArt (waxy crayon like pastels are easy to confuse with the NeoPastels. They also manufacture a soft pastel that some people have refered to as NeoPastel.

Look forward to hearing about your experience:clap:


Pat Isaac
01-28-2008, 06:57 PM
Thanks for the link, Bill. Interesting site. I tend to think that those OPs for $70 are student grade and might not give the results that you want. They tend to be hard to blend. However, the sample pack is a good idea and then you can see for yourself.


01-29-2008, 03:24 PM
You may be right about the OP's, but they are comparably priced normally to CrayPas Specialists (:cat: that may be faint praise to some OP enthusiasts, but others like them). I think I might order the freebies with my next order and see what they are like. If so, I'll let you know.

Hope you enjoyed the link. Shows how complex some of these color harmonies may be, but demonstrates well how the colors in schemes relate to one another as you make changes. That is somewhat instructional itself.

By the way, a quick (dumb??) question for you. You say you always try to cover the pastel sheet entirely in your works. If so, does the color of the paper really matter in the finished work given the opaque nature of OPs?? Is so, does the color act more as a guide during the painting process to help maintain a particular atmosphere or mood?

Just curious!:confused:


01-29-2008, 04:12 PM
Hi Bill. Pat and Ed (and others) discuss this issue in this thread (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=425700) starting at post #28.

Pat Isaac
01-29-2008, 04:34 PM
You beat me to it, Bob. I was just going to look for that thread. I guess it is a matter of opinion. In any event I like to work on colored paper or a colored primed surface. A main reason is that I hate to work against white. For me it changes the relationship of the colors.


01-30-2008, 04:27 PM
Pat and Bob:
Thanks for pointing me to the correct spot. As a newbie II tend to get ahead of myself since there is so much info in here. Your help and patience is greaty appreciated!:clap:
:wave: :music:

01-30-2008, 04:27 PM
Pat and Bob:
Thanks for pointing me to the correct spot. As a newbie II tend to get ahead of myself since there is so much info in here. Your help and patience is greaty appreciated!:clap:
:wave: :music:

01-30-2008, 04:27 PM
Pat and Bob:
Sorry for the duplicate posts. My tablet pen went a lttle crazy when I hit submit and didnpt realize I submitted multiples.

A thousand pardons for my stupidity!!

:wave: :music: