Select a color below to view a list of common pigments.
For each pigment, we offer: the pros and cons of using that pigment, based on Virgil’s experience and observations; technical links; and a graphical representation of the pigment’s qualities. Please refer the notes at the bottom of this page for a description of the terminology used.
Pigment Name: this could be the official name in the Color Index (third edition 1997), the name given by the original manufactuer, the actual chemical name, or the traditional historic name.
Color Index Name Code: The first two letters describe the general pigment color and the number is the individual pigment identifier. For example, PG-17 is the color index name code for Chromium Oxide Green.
Opacity — Transparency Rating: a general reference; many pigments exist in both transparent/opaque versions or can be manipulated by paint manufacturers). Values = Opaque, Semi-Opaque, Semi-Transparent, Transparent.
Lightfastness Rating (by the ATSM) — Values = I, Excellent, II, Good, III, Poor, IV, Fugitive/Very Poor.
Toxicity: The hazardous properties associated with the pigment based on the literature; it is assumed professional artists will use at least ordinary care when handling all paints or pigments. Possible values: Low hazard, but do not handle carelessly; Possible Hazard if improperly or carelessly handled; Hazardous, use appropriate precautions for handling toxic substances; Extremely Toxic, only attempt working with this pigment (especially the dry form) in laboratory conditions and with proper safety equipment.
Drying Rates: Problems can occur when faster-drying paints are applied over slower-drying paints. Possible values: fast-drying, average-drying, slow-drying, very slow-drying.