All artists who work with color use a guide to pigments known as the Pigment Color Index. Irrespective of whether they use oil paints, water color or acrylic colors, knowledge of pigments and their properties help artists to correctly identify shades and create appropriate hues. Similarly, in manufacturing, all dyes and pigments – plastic pigments, organic pigments, etc. – can be identified on the Pigment Color Index. Among the various groups on the index, yellow occupies a prominent place with the largest number of shades.
The different Shades of Yellow
Across the Pigment Color Index for yellows, the color moves between hues of light yellows like pigment yellow 31 (Barium Chromate Yellow) to pigment yellow 139 (Yellow Orange) to pigment yellow 65 (Hansa Yellow Deep), displaying a wide array of shades. Let us look through some of them.
Pigment Yellow 3 – Hansa Yellow Light: One of the most common shades of lemon yellows that is vibrant, reasonably lightfast and easily mixable with other colors, PY3 is transparent and has a relatively high tinting strength.
Pigment Yellow 31 – Barium Chromate Yellow: Popular among Impressionist artists like Renoir and Monet, PY31 is an opaque yellow with low tinting strength and an acidic green hue. The pigment does not discolor over time so it is long lasting.
Pigment Yellow 35 – Cadmium Yellow Light / Cadmium Yellow: Ranging from a cool tone of lemon yellow to a medium yellow color, PY35 is an opaque pigment that is very dense, has high tinting strength and lightfastness, and provides lasting coverage. Inhaling of dry Cadmium pigments can be a health hazard and should be avoided.
Pigment Yellow 41 – Genuine Naples Yellow: This opaque yellow pigment is one of the oldest synthetic pigments created and its color ranges from a dull greenish-yellow to golden red-yellow. It is achieved by combining various pigments together and is not used in recent times since it is a toxic pigment.
Pigment Yellow 42 – Synthetic Yellow Iron Oxide: With a warm yellow ochre shade that is a synthetic and more vibrant alternative to the Natural Yellow Ochre (PY43), this earthy pigment is popularly used to paint landscapes and create a green shade when mixed with any of the blue hues.
Pigment Yellow 53 – Nickel Titanate Yellow: Also known as Nickel Antimony Titanium Rutile, this pale, buttery yellow is a non-toxic alternative to PY41 (Genuine Naples Yellow) that is popular in water color because of its property of being one of the only granulating yellow pigments.
Pigment Yellow 53 – Hansa Yellow Deep: With an orange-yellow color hue, this semi -transparent to semi opaque yellow pigment with a moderately high tinting strength and great lightfastness makes for a great mixing color in landscape painting. It is considered to be a more transparent alternative to PY 37 (Cadmium Yellow Deep).
Pigment Yellow 175 – Benzimidazolone Yellow: With a tinge of green, PY175 is a semi -transparent yellow pigment that can be easily mixed with vibrant greens to enhance their color. When used in water color, PY175 can be very staining and difficult to remove.