Hue Name and Color Comparisons Art Nebula
With the vast number of brands for watercolor paint, each company takes time to create individualistic or unique paint formulas for all their colors. Thus, it is good to compare the different common hue names of different watercolor sets or brands to find out if we are buying different colors or identical ones. Comparing colors will also give us useful information like which brand gives you a single- pigment formulation of a color or a mix of different pigments, which specific Yellow is the most lightfast across different brands, and so on.


To guide us in this exploration, we will check the following of each color:

  • Sample swatch on watercolor paper
  • Hue name by the brand
  • Pigment content
  • Lightfastness Rating
  • Staining ability (staining, semi-staining, or non-staining)
  • Translucency and opacity (translucent, semi-translucent, semi-opaque, or opaque)
All these information may be seen in the example below: 



Campus by Raphael 10-Color Set

   The brand, Campus by Raphael is a student-grade set that offers a small range of colors that they have not declared the names of. There is no data available for their opacity/transparency ratings, staining or granulating abilities, pigment content and lightfastness. Thus, we will only be able to compare the sets colors along with different brands/colors that look similar. For the sake of information, we have substituted the names of these colors for the meantime.

Sennelier La Petite Fine Student Travel Box of 12 Colors

On the other hand, Sennelier La Petite (student-grade) comes with hue name and color number, lightfastness, transparency and opacity rating. Using their color numbers they may be compared with their artist-grade counterparts. 


The Lemon Yellow of all three: Schmincke Akademie (student-grade), Schmincke Horadam (artist-grade), and Sennelier Aquarelle (artist-grade) are visibly the same with the swatches above. They are all actually made with the same pigment, PY3 or "Hansa Yellow" but commonly described as lemon yellow for its green undertone or bias. The chemical compounds of the pigment are: Azoic pigment and mineral filler. In this case, Lemon Yellow across the 3 paints are, in fact, the same. Only differing in amount of pigment amount in respective formulations and in transparency.

Primary Yellow & Azo Yellow

The Primary Yellow of both the artist and student-grade of Sennelier look identical even with opacity levels. They share the same color code "574" too on Sennelier's color chart.  However, their declared ratings are different with the professional grade declared "Not Rated" and the student-grade is given ASTM - III but the pigment "PY74" is given a "Good Lightfastness" rating nonetheless so it is safe to say that either will be able to withstand some exposure to sunlight. 

The last box, not primary yellow but azo yellow by M. Graham looks almost the same. However, the Azo Yellow of M.Graham in comparison with the Sennelier yellows here, is rated as "Excellent" with ASTM - 1 and declared as a "Staining" color. It is composed of PY151 which may give its color the brownish tint to it. Making it very different from the 1st two yellows and a good choice for your mixing neutrals and Earthy shades.


The two colors above are similar looking but the two are very different. It is important for us to also be careful in making some assumptions solely based on how colors look when swatched. The Sennelier La Petite Orange 645, compared to the "Chinese Orange" of the artist-grade Sennelier, is more yellow than orange and is transparent. Chinese Orange contains: PY150, PR209,and PBr23. Chrome Yellow Deep of Schmincke Horadam contains a single pigment, PY65 which is a deep, reddish, Hansa Yellow. Two completely different formulations but the paints look very similar. One scenario where we can opt to choose the one that uses a single, pure pigment.


Here we see that Sennelier Aquarelle has a more yellow shade compared to the other three "Yellow Ochres." Notice the nuance in the shift of Pigment number from PY43 for Sennelier to PY42 for Schmincke Horadam. This is a good note to take, that a small change in pigment number in compositions of paints may drastically change them.

The bottom two swatches are significantly lighter too because they are student-grade paints. This means we will need more coats or layers of those paints to achieve washes as saturated as the ones done with single layers of artist grade paints.


All of the Ultramarines here of their respective brands used PB29 which may be a synthetic alternative or the real ultramarine from Lapislazuli (a semi-precious stone). The quality of the stone may differ too so the ultramarine blue color price varies according to amount of the said pigment and the quality of the stone used. A synthetic alternative may be used as well to mimic the real stone. Do not be discouraged of having synthetic colors because manufacturers have long been able to control a lot of aspects of synthetic dyes and pigments letting them improve colors in comparison with natural ones in terms of lightfastness and brightness. With this in mind, we rely on the lightfastness rating declared by brands.




PG7 is the same pigment that stands alone as Viridian Hue with Sennelier Aquarelle. It leans toward a blue bias and is present in two of the Sap Greens above. Whereas the other one uses PB29, ultramarine and PY153. Despite M. Graham and Schmincke Horadam both having PG7, they look very different. M. Graham uses PY110, a yellow with a red undertone, when mixed with green (its complement) results in a slight grey tint in the resulting color. Hence, we have a heavier, deeper sap green that looks more natural. On the other hand, Schmincke Horadam combines PG7 with PY153, a yellow like "Indian Yellow" with little orange bias that doesn't result in a dull shade for green.



This is another example of how different brands can produce the same looking color but with different characteristics and pigment composition. Below, you will see that the "Yellow Ochre" of Schmincke, when diluted looks exactly as their Naples Yellow. This brings us to another note, explore color saturation to find out if you can achieve certain colors just by adding water or more paint in your washes. 



Schmincke is one of the most reliable brands in terms of their student-grade paints. It is obvious in the swatches above. All size colors are almost identical in saturation, but in fact the swatches were all done with single layers of paint. So unlike other brands that we need to create multiple layered washes to achieve bright, saturated colors, Schmincke Akademie is our choice for high intensity colors without fillers. The  Akademie of colors has only 24 colors available but 15 are single-pigment colors. More information in comparing the professional and student grade paints of Schmincke may be found here: 


It's fun to get to know your colors and research on the characteristics of pigments in them. The more you know, the more you will understand how mixing together all sorts of color hues can help you achieve your masterpieces.

Sources of references:

ASTM conversion:
Pigment Database:


Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published