A deep, moody blue that gets very dark, perfect for night skies, shadows, and atmosphere!
Daniel Smith is the PB60 that I originally fell in love with, not realizing it’s very different from other brands – very violet-toned, dark, and muted!
Graded Wash: Not super even, I struggled to get a streak-free wash in gradients and flat washes, but it does have quite a range of color from a very, very dark blue in masston. The color is very purple-toned and muted throughout, with the diluted end being too grayish to be useful for blue skies.
Granulation: Although listed as non-granulating, it does have some visible granulation. In my opinion, it behaves more or less as a granulating color, in that it is difficult to bloom and tends to clump together when you try (similar to Payne’s Gray). Also, many of the mixes look granulating even with non-granulating colors.
Glazing: Glazes to an even darker navy blue-black.
Lifting: Leaves behind residue in both lifts.
Comparison to Other Brands
Da Vinci – Indanthrene Blue
Super different from Daniel Smith’s version in just about every way; this is a green-toned rather than a purple-toned blue that is much brighter/less muted, grades evenly, and has no texture at all! This is a super strong, juicy color. It’s almost too strong and has a tendency to overwhelm mixes. It is very similar to Phthalo Blue Red Shade (a bit darker and more muted).
Colors mixes are relatively bright and bold, and the greens are pretty bright.
Both lifts left behind a residue, though less so than DS’s version.
Overall, this is a much more versatile color that is easier to work with. DV’s Indanthrone Blue could stand in for a PBRS and Prussian Blue in your palette, and it doesn’t have the tricky granulation and goopiness that DV’s has.
Holbein – Royal Blue
Don’t blame Holbein for the bloom right in the middle of my swatch there, I dropped some water while it was drying.
This one gave me nice, even gradient, though I didn’t get it as dark as I would have liked. I wrote “drying shift” because it looked a lot darker before it dried.
Here are three PB60’s side-by-side.
You can see that Daniel Smith is the purplest and streakiest; Holbein and Da Vinci are both smoother gradating and nearly the same color (with Da Vinci being a teensy bit greener, most noticeable in dilute). The main different I noticed between Holbein and Da Vinci was strength with Da Vinci being higher tinting. However, Da Vinci is almost too high tinting and has a tendency to overwhelm mixes, so the Holbein is a more well-behaved mixer.
Schmincke – Delft Blue
Schmincke offers two PB60’s: Delft Blue and Dark Blue. Delft Blue is the more violet hue, similar to DS, so that’s the one I tried.
I really like it! It has a similar hue to DS, and gets lusciously dark. You can see from the horizontal lines that it’s a fast mover, which can be troublesome. Nice color mixes with other blues.
- Daniel Smith Indanthrone Blue is the most purple-toned and muted (“moody”). It easily gets very dark. It has a bit of texture, and the others don’t.
- Schmincke Delft Blue is also violet toned. I found it a very fast mover, and hard to control (likely due to the Schmincke binder rather than the specific color). It didn’t get as dark in masstone as some of the others.
- Daler Rowney Artist Indanthrene Blue gets very dark in masstone, even from dry paint. There are some bubbles. It’s a balanced, middle color.
- MaimeriBlu Faience Blue is very low tinting strength compared to the others.
- Da Vinci Indanthrene Blue is one of the brightest and greenest-toned (though still certainly less so than, say, Prussian Blue.) You could use this in dilute as a sky color.
I used the distinctly purple-toned Daniel Smith color for these mixes. The other brands would mix differently.
Lemon Yellow (PY175)
Even with light yellows, the darkness of Indanthrone can make nice deep dark greens, similar to Perylene or Jadeite.
Nickel Azo Yellow (PY150)
Because DS’s Indanthrone Blue is so purpley, these green mixes are fairly muted. With almost all Indanthrone Blue, I got a reasonable Perylene Green clone, but it was hard not to overwhelm the blue with the bold yellow.
Rich Green Gold (PY129)
Very similar mixes to Nickel Azo Yellow, just a bit more brownish an avocado-colored compared to the lemon-line undertones of the NAY mix. I found it even easier to get a great Perylene Green clone with mostly highly pigmented Indanthrone Blue.
Monte Amiata Natural Sienna
Not quite complementary, doesn’t exactly make gray or green… more of a weird yellow blue.
Transparent Pyrrol Orange
Use the near-complement orange to make the dark blue into a dark grey or even a solid black! With more orange, you get cool browns.
Dark purples/plums/wines. The highly pigmented version that’s mostly PV19 is the closest to what I’d call a “dark magenta.”
These colors are similar enough that there’s not a lot of range. DS Indanthrone is essentially “dark ultramarine” in hue (without the granulation).
Use this bright cyan to mix true navy or a night-sky gradient. (I think the dark mix in the middle looks a lot like other brands’ Indanthrone Blue.)
Range of muted jades and teals. I think the mostly-Indanthrone version looks a lot like Prussian Blue.
What Others Say
Indanthrone blue– the absolutely perfect base color for the shadows and darkest cracks in the stone. In every painting I made the shadow by combining Indanthrone blue with usually at least two colors from the rest of the petrified wood, as this helped the shadow harmonize with the rest of the painting, and also made each painting have a unique shadow color.Claire Giordano, Petrified Forest Residency: Favorite Colors
My Review of Indanthrone Blue
This is one of my most-used colors! I used the Daniel Smith version in every painting for Kolbie Blume’s 10 Day Challenge. It has so many use cases:
- A perfect mixer for any number of shadow colors.
- Atmospheric clouds.
- It mutes earth tones into darker, cooler browns. Mix it with Burnt Sienna for a Burnt Umber hue, for Burnt Umber for a Van Dyke Brown hue.
- Because it gets so dark and has such a high range of values, you can use it as the only color for a monochrome painting.
When I got the DV version, I realized that it was much easier to handle and more versatile; I even used it to make clear blue skies.
Although I was initially wowed by DV’s Indanthrene Blue (is this what it’s supposed to be like???), I have to admit that I was back to Daniel Smith’s Indanthrone Blue within a few weeks. DV’s PB60 has a lower learning curve and is more generically useful, but it also has a lot of competition for its palette role: if I want a dark green-toned blue, I can use PBGS, PBRS, or Prussian Blue, whereas if I want a muted, moody, violet-blue, DS’s Indanthrone is uniquely situated to fill that need. Sure, I can mix a muted, moody, violet-blue by muting Ultramarine a bit (using Burnt Sienna or another orange), or by adding a red to one of the green-blues I noted above, but listen: I live on the New England coast. I like to paint gray-blue granite rocks and foggy skies. I need a convenience muted blue!
On my palette? Yes, always.
Favorite version: Daniel Smith; runner up Schmincke Delft Blue. If you want a more middle dark blue (not as violet toned), consider one of the others (Da Vinci, Holbein, Winsor & Newton, or Schmincke Dark Blue.)