Color Spotlight: Transparent Red Oxide (PR101)

For a person who claims not to like earth tones, I’ve sure been on an earth tone kick, but this one is worth it, I promise.

Daniel Smith Transparent Red Oxide graded wash, experiments, and color mixes

Experiment Results

Graded Wash: A wide range of values from a deep, almost dark-brown through highly granulated Burnt Sienna-type earth oranges all the way down to a diluted pale peach. I got a fair amount of streaking in this graded wash, not exactly the smooth experience that some of mine lately have been. There’s always the possibility of a fluke (since it’s watercolor) or user error (since I am a beginner), but I also just find it harder to get a smooth wash with a granulating shade.

Opacity/Glazing/Blooms: Very transparent, undetectable on the black line. In a glaze, it turns into an even deeper and redder burnt orange. Blooming causes the granulation to kick up and form little dusty rust piles.

Comparison to Other Brands

There are a ton of different colors made from PR101 (including Transparent Brown Oxide and Indian Red, a much more opaque color), so you can’t just look at a brand and see it has a PR101 and conclude that it’s the equivalent of TRO. What I consider a TRO equivalent is:

  • made from PR101,
  • transparent,
  • earth orange hue, similar to Burnt Sienna

Here are some I know of that meet those qualifications.

American Journey – Transparent Oxide Red

With its similar name, this color by the Cheap Joe’s house brand American Journey is the most obvious comparison point to Daniel Smith.

American Journey’s Transparent Oxide Red (left), vs Daniel Smith’s Transparent Red Oxide (right)

AJ’s TOR is non-granulating, and looks more orangey and less red to me, though the color is similar in masstone. Much easier to granulate and to handle, although not really the same experience because of the extreme difference in granulation.

Da Vinci – Burnt Sienna Deep

Da Vinci – Burnt Sienna Deep (PR101)

Though Burnt Sienna is traditionally made from PBr7 (and Da Vinci offers one), their deep version is a transparent color made from PR101. I thought this might actually be the same color as the American Journey Transparent Oxide Red above (Da Vinci makes American Journey), but when I compare them side-by-side, I find the Da Vinci color to be more bright/glowing as well as lightly granulating.

American Journey’s Transparent Oxide Red (left) vs Da Vinci’s Burnt Sienna Deep (right)

At any rate, they’re very similar colors.

I noticed a drying shift on this one (the gradient was much darker and brighter when wet), but I really like the overall handling of it. The gradient is smoother than DS’s and less wildly granulating, but the mixes are still granulating and mixed more nicely. (Part of it, certainly, is that I got better at mixing in the ~2 months between swatching out the DS and DV versions.) The range of mixes is really nice, a set of pretty granulating earth tones. Instead of granulating away from the blues, it makes a really nice set of deep browns. Definitely an easier handler, though I sort of miss the wild granulation of Daniel Smith’s TRO.

Color Mixes with DS Transparent Red Oxide

Nickel Azo Yellow

DS Transparent Red Oxide (PR101) + Mission Gold Green Gold (PY150) on Stilman & Birn Alpha

Some brands make a Quin Gold hue with PR101 and PY150, so it should come as no surprise that some of these mixes look like Quin Gold or Quin Deep Gold.

Monte Amiata Natural Sienna

Transparent Red Oxide + Monte Amiata Natural Sienna
DS TRO + DS Monte Amiata Natural Sienna (PBr7) – in Wonder Forest sketchbook

Lovely glowing sienna/red sandstone colors.

Quin Coral

Transparent Red Oxide + Quin Coral
DS Transparent Red Oxide (PR101) + DS Quinacridone Coral (PR209) on Arches

Bold reddish siennas that look good for red canyons.

Deep Scarlet

Deep Scarlet + Transparent Red Oxide
DS Deep Scarlet (PR175) + DS Transparent Red Oxide (PR101) on Arches CP

Similar to QC mixes, but a bit more subdued.

Perylene Violet

DS Perylene Violet (PV29) + DS Transparent Red Oxide (PR101)

The brownish red tones of the Perylene Violet tone down the orangeness of the Transparent Red Oxide to a more middle brownish tone. I thought this would be like Indian Red, but it’s not really (not red enough).

Violet Iron Oxide

DV Violet Iron Oxide (PR101) + DS Transparent Red Oxide (PR101)

Two flavors of PR101! The Violet Iron Oxide adds more granulation and dark tones.

Purple Magenta

Transparent Red Oxide + Purple Magenta
DS Transparent Red Oxide (PR101) + SH Purple Magenta (PR122) on Arches CP


Transparent Red Oxide + Ultramarine
Daniel Smith Transparent Red Oxide (PR101) + Holbein Ultramarine Deep (PB29) in a Wonder Forest sketchbook

Cool browns, grays, and gray-blues. This combo is a Liz Steel-approved way to make shadows, and is similar to Jane Blundell’s “Jane’s Gray” (made from Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine).

Cobalt Blue

DS TRO + Da Vinci Cobalt Blue (PB28) – in a Wonder Forest sketchbook

Similar to the Ultramarine mixes, but a bit less granulating (though this will depend on the exact paints used), brighter, crisper, and less purpley. I love the “bright” brown. As with Ultramarine, you can get quite close to a neutral gray; and in both Ultramarine and Cobalt mixes, I like the way that you can veer off from gray in either a brown or a blue direction – both useful!

Cerulean Blue

Da Vinci Cerulean Blue Genuine (PB36) + DS TRO

Lighter and greener range of gray-blues to browns. The bright brown is similar to Cobalt Blue; the blue-grays are more sky-like.

Phthalo Green

DV Phthalo Green (PG7) + DS Transparent Red Oxide (PR101) on Pentalic Aqua

Color Mixes with DV Burnt Sienna Deep

Nickel Azo Yellow

Mission Gold Green Gold (PY150) + DV Burnt Sienna Deep (PR101) on Canson XL

I think this makes a better Quin Gold than DS TRO!

Raw Sienna

DV Burnt Sienna Deep (PR101) + DV Raw Sienna (PBr7) on Canson XL

Ultramarine Blue

DV Ultramarine Blue (PB29) + DV Burnt Sienna Deep (PR101) on Canson XL

Cobalt Blue

DV Cobalt Blue (PB28) + DV Burnt Sienna Deep (PR101) on Canson XL

My Review

One of my hobbies is finding earth shades that are exciting – that leap off the page and become stars, rather than fading into the background. Transparent Red Oxide absolutely fits the bill! I love this shade when mixed with warm colors, and can see using it to bring out the light-filled glowing quality of orangey natural occurrences, like rust (it literally is rust), Sedona rocks, the cinnamon-colored bark of a paperbark maple. n fan, but in the earthy use cases of this particular color, the high level of granulation is a plus. This is a great glowing alternative to Burnt Sienna and other earth orange colors.

On my palette? Yes! My favorite Earth Orange.

Favorite Version: DS’s TRO has been one of my favorite/most crucial colors since I started painting, but I also really like DV’s slightly less granulating/orangier version. Both are good!

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