Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Ultramarine PB29 watercolours under the spotlight.

One of my most popular posts to date is a watercolour comparison of blues with 43581 views. While I have these comparisons on my website a well, I thought I'd update these and also post some key pigment comparisons all photographed in the same light at the same time as specific spotlight posts. These photographs are taken under 'sunlight' bulbs with no adjustment.

Ultramarine is made with PB29. It may be called French Ultramarine, Ultramarine Deep, Light or otherwise, but it is almost always a single pigment, granulating and liftable colour. It may be a little more on the purple side (warmer) or a little more on the green side (cooler) but it's an incredibly useful colour to have.

French Ultramarine is often the more purple version, if there is more than one in a range. I don't tend to have more than one version of this pigment, though if you wanted to get two that were very contrasting you might look at Old Holland Ultramarine Blue Deep - which is perhaps the most purple and granulating, compared with Schmincke Ultramarine finest which is the least granulating and a little more on the green side.

Ultramarine Blue Watercolours: Ultramarine - Art Spectrum, French Ultramarine Blue Deep - Blockx, French Ultramarine Light - Blockx, Ultramarine Blue - Daniel Smith, French Ultramarine - Daniel Smith.

Ultramarine Blue Watercolours: French Ultramarine Permanent (RS) - Da Vinci, Ultramarine Blue - Da Vinci, Ultramarine (Green Shade) - Da Vinci, French Ultramarine - Daler Rowney, Permanent Blue - Daler Rowney.

Ultramarine Blue Watercolours: Ultramarine Light - Holbein, Ultramarine Deep - Holbein, Ultramarine Blue Light - Lukas, Ultramarine Blue Deep - Lukas, Ultramarine Blue - M.Graham.

Ultramarine Blue Watercolours: Ultramarine Light - Mission Gold, Ultramarine Deep - Mission Gold, Ultramarine Blue Deep - Old Holland, Olutramarine Blue - Old Holland, French Ultramarine Light Extra - Old Holland.
Schmincke introduced French Ultramarine in 2017. It is a lovely and very granulating version, quite different from their Ultramarine Finest, which I think is the least granulating ultramarine available.
Ultramarine Blue Watercolours: Ultramarine Blue - QoR, Ultramarine Deep - Rembrandt, French Ultramarine - Rembrandt, Ultramarine Finest - Schmincke, French Ultramarine - Schmincke (new 2017)

Ultramarine Blue Watercolours: Ultramarine Deep - MaimeriBlu, Lutramarine Light - MaimeriBlu, Ultramarine Deep - Sennelier, French Ultramarine Blue - Senelier, Ultramarine Light - Sennelier.

Ultramarine Blue Watercolours: Ultramarine - St Petersburg, Ultramarine Blue - Schmincke, Ultramarine - White Nights, Ultramarine (Green Shade) Winsor & Newton, French Ultramarine Blue - Winsor & Newton.

Ultramarine Blue Watercolours: Ultramarine Blue Deep - Wallace Seymour. 


  1. You provide such wonderful information and insight. I appreciate your blog so very much. Just wanted to let you know. Loving your art from here in Idaho.

    1. Thank you :-) What a cool name - 13 moons is one year...but so much more elegant described that way.

  2. Hi! Thank you so much for your incredibly informative blog. I’m new to the site here and wondered about your swatches in these examples. Is the horizontal rectangle in each case a concentrated swatch of that paint or is it comparing to a standard hue or something? Thanks! :)

    1. Fair question - the top square is diluted paint added to pre-dampened section at the top, gradually getting stronger. The lowest rectangle is just a full strength wash of the same colour. You can see a whole lot more on my website, where eventually I plan to show every available professional watercolour in the world (!!)

  3. Hi, thanks for sharing your information. I want to ask you which French Ultramarine would you recommend to obtain even layers in botanical art.

    1. The least granulating ultramarine is Schmincke Ultramarine Finest. Otherwise you'd look at non-granulating blues such as indanthrone blue or phthalo blue red shade.