The Best Modern Primary Colours to use in Watercolour

Pthalo Blue (green shade)


Pthalo Blue (also known as Phthalocyanine Blue) can have one of two shades; either a red or green. Pthalo Blue Red Shade (PB15:1) is a great alternative for Ultramarine Blue, but it’s not my favourite choice for a modern primary palette. Instead, I would choose the Green Shade (PB15:3), which is a strong and brilliant deep cyan blue that mixes beautifully and is deeply staining .

Hansa Yellow Medium


This is a gorgeous shade that looks beautiful on its own and mixes to make a range of lovely shades. Hansa Yellow Medium is both a low staining and semi-transparent pigment, and is strongly lightfast (more so than Hansa Yellow Light). Azo Yellow (PY151) would be a possible substitute to Hansa Yellow Medium in a modern primary palette. These are both excellent yellows to mix greens from.

Quinacridone Rose


This is a vibrant, transparent pigment that can be used to make clear and bright purples and oranges. This pigment can be found under a variety of names, including Quinacridone Rose & Permanent Rose. Quinacridone Rose can also be mixed with Burnt Sienna to create a variety of skin tones. Burnt Sienna can be substituted with Quinacridone Sienna for a more transparent palette.

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