We’ve all been there – our artist friends are raving about XYZ watercolour brand, or the local shop is running a great sale on brand ABC. We’d love some new paints, but how to decide which paints to from a whole new brand?
The trouble is, each brand makes up their own names for paints, and it can be hard to tell which paints we will like best. Two brands may offer paints with completely different names that are identical, or two paints with identical names that are completely different.
The good news is, there’s a much better way to sort your paints, which is by color index (pigment number). Artist quality brands have pigment numbers printed right on the tube, which describe the pigment(s) used to make up each paint.
However, trying to remember the pigment numbers of all of our paints (was that PR254 or PR255?), or finding pigment documentation for a different brand we’d like to try can be tricky.
I’m here to help.
I’ve spent the past few weeks compiling the Pigment Comparison by Brand spreadsheet.
This spreadsheet lists every single-pigment paint produced by 16 major watercolour brands, sorted according to their pigment number. This allows you to look up a paint by name or pigment number, and easily find all of the other paints made with the same pigment! Best of all, it’s completely free for the whole world to use.
How to Use
The Pigment Comparison By Brand spreadsheet is very simple to use. Each column is a brand, and each row is a pigment.
Scroll side-to-side to see the paints from a specific brand. Brands are sorted alphabetically.
Scroll up and down to view paints made with different pigments – paints are sorted alphabetically by pigment index number.
In cases where one pigment is used to make several different shades, multiple rows will be joined together to show all of the pigment variations. The convenient alternating colours allow you to see at a glance when multiple hues are made with the same pigment.
Search the spreadsheet by pressing Ctrl+F on your keyboard, and typing in your search terms. To look up a paint, search either the pigment number (found on the tube or packaging of all artist grade paints) or the name of the paint. Then scroll left and right to find other paints made using the same pigment. If your search returns multiple results, press Enter until you find the correct one.
This spreadsheet does not contain paints made with multiple pigments. However, if you have a mixed paint you like (for example, a specific brand of Sap Green), you can still use this spreadsheet to find the single pigments to mix your own. Simply check the tube or packaging you have at home to find the pigment numbers, and look those up in the spreadsheet.
The catch? There is no catch!
However, I am an early-career artist working super-duper hard to “make it”. If you are using this spreadsheet to help you with your paint shopping, consider using one of my affiliate links – it won’t cost you a penny and I get a small percentage of every sale I direct.
Jackson’s Art: This is where I buy the majority of my watercolour paints. Jackson’s offers extremely competitive prices on all of the European brands of watercolour, and very affordable shipping (even to Canada!) Tax is deducted on international orders, which makes them even more affordable.
Amazon (Canada, US, UK): For assorted art supplies such as palettes, sketch paper and books, as well as all sorts of other products, I shop on Amazon. They sometimes also offer competitive prices on some watercolour brands, particularly American brands on the USA and Canada sites.
If you think I’m super cool and would like to reward me for my time and effort, you can also support me on Ko-Fi (buy me a coffee to help fuel the next stage of this or other projects!)
In the future, I plan to build on this spreadsheet. I want to make a simple search interface, and links to my colours swatches and reviews for each pigment/paint.
I am planning to incorporate lightfastness information for each pigment, as manufacturers can be inconsistent and misleading in their own documentation.
I would like to add more brands, particularly smaller, independent watercolour brands. If you have a brand you’d like added – feel free to send me a message, all I need is an up-to-date paint list with pigment numbers.
Also, feel free to contact me about any mistakes or suggestions for improvement. I tried to find the most up-to-date information from all brands and organize multiple hues of the same pigment in logical way, but I’m sure I wasn’t quite right in all cases.
While compiling this spreadsheet, I refered heavily to the Color of Art Pigment Database for in-depth pigment information.
I also relied on Jane Blundell‘s colour swatches and paint listings.
I strongly recommend both these websites to anyone who would like to learn more about watercolour pigments.