Color Spotlight: Phthalo Turquoise (PB16)

Winsor & Newton – Phthalo Turquoise (PB16)

This is an automatic color of interest to me because I love teals and turquoises!

Experiment Results

Gradients: Smooth gradient through bright cyan. In masstone, a deep near-navy; in dilute, a lovely pale aqua.

Opacity: Completely transparent.

Glazing: Glazes quite dark.

Color Mixes: I’d say these color mixes are quite similar to the mixes with Phthalo Blue (Green Shade).

Comparisons to Other PB16’s

Many watercolor paints companies offer a version of PB16. It’s usually called Phthalo Turquoise, although because Daniel Smith has something else it calls Phthalo Turquoise (a mix of Phthalo Blue and Greens I’ll discuss below), it calls its PB16 Phthalo Turquoise Blue.

Here are four different versions of PB16.

Phthalo Turquoise comparison
Comparison PB16 paints. From left: Holbein Marine Blue; Schmincke Helio Turquosie; WN Phthalo Turquoise; Da Vinci Phthalo Turquoise

Holbein Marine Blue is by far the greenest. I would call Holbein Marine Blue a peacock blue, and the others more of a cyan.

Schmincke Horadam’s Helio Turquoise gets the least dark, staying in a more vivid mid-blue range. You can see this in the masstone and the mixes as well. This is not surprising considering I found the same thing with their PB15:3 Phthalo Blue Green Shade equivalent, which they call Helio Cerulean. It doesn’t get nearly as dark or staining as the DS/WN versions, and appears to have been intentionally balanced to match the intensity of their other colors.

Greenleaf & Blueberry – Phthalocyanine Turquoise

Here’s another one I tried after I did the comparison above! This iteration of PB16 is the cyan in Greenleaf & Blueberry’s CMYK set.

Greenleaf & Blueberry – Phthalocyanine Cyan

As I noted on this page, “Dries more muted and granulating than it looks wet.” This is the only granulating PB16 I know if! The slightly more muted and middle-blue color makes it more suitable for skies and unmixed use in naturalistic paintings, but I have to admit the very extra clown person in me prefers the super-bright versions above.

Comparison to Other Teal Blues

Daniel Smith – Phthalo Turquoise (PB15:3/PB36)

Daniel Smith – Phthalo Turquoise

Daniel Smith’s Phthalo Turquoise is a mix of Phthalo Blue Green Shade (PB15:3) and Phthalo Green Yellow Shade (PG36). It’s much greener than PB16 varieties of cyan, closer to an even balance between blue and green.

From left: Daniel Smith Phthalo Turquoise mix, Winsor & Newton Phthalo Turquoise (PB16), Daniel Smith Phthalo Blue Green Shade (PB15:3)

What I love about this particular mix is how deep and dark it gets. It really has an absolutely huge range. I also flat-out love the color. However, it’s an easy palette mix if you have both colors, which I typically do. If you don’t have PG36, you can easily use the more common PG7 (Phthalo Green Blue Shade).

Winsor & Newton – Aqua Green

Winsor & Newton – Aqua Green

Aqua Green is another Winsor & Newton color originally released in 2015 as a limited edition Twilight Collection and reintroduced in 2020 as part of the Jewel Collection. What’s interesting about this color is that its pigment has no name/ID number. All I could find was a forum post saying that it is Palomar Turquoise from Sun Chemicals. It appears to be a relative of the Phthalo family. Greener than PB16, I found it similar in color to the DS Phthalo Turquoise mix, but a bit weaker (you CAN get a dark masstone, but it takes some scrubbing). It is also granulating.

Mission Gold – Peacock Blue

Mission Gold Peacock Blue mix (left) vs Holbein Marine Blue PB16 (right)

Like Daniel Smith’s Phthalo Turquoise, Mission Gold’s Peacock Blue is a mix of Phthalo Blue and Phthalo Green (PG7 this time). This color is balanced more toward the blue side, and to me it most closest resembles Holbein’s Marine Blue (PB16). This is another mix that, like its parents, gets extremely dark and has a huge range.

Color Mixes

Lemon Yellow

Winsor Lemon (PY175) + DV Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Stilman & Birn Beta

Very cool greens.

Nickel Azo Yellow

WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) + MI Green Gold (PY150)

Rather vivid, wide-ranging greens though not as bright/yellowy as those with a Phthalo Green.

Quin Rose

WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) + DV Red Rose Deep (PV19) on Wonder Forest paper

Very muted purple-blues. Very dark colors are possible.

My Overall Thoughts

Blue-greens are my favorite colors IRL, so I love all of these. I especially love how, as Phthalo-based colors, these get soooo dark! They have huge ranges, and every shade along the way is gorgeous.

I’ve tried several of these guys on my palette. I have to admit that I don’t reach for them often. I will tend to use them for things like mark-making practice, where I need a color and I don’t care which one. They’re colors I enjoy looking at it! When it comes to actually painting something, though, I haven’t found much of a use case for them. If you have both Phthalo Blue and Phthalo Green, you can mix up a hue easily, and in my opinion the in-between color isn’t as useful as either color individually.

I initially chose the greenest PB16, Holbein Marine Blue, for my palette, in order to distinguish it from Phthalo Blue Green Shade. While I enjoyed swatching it out and playing with it, when it came time to actually paint things, I found that I rarely reached for it, or when I did I might as well have chosen Phthalo Blue Green Shade. PB16 turquoise mixes are so similar to PB15 blue mixes that it felt reduplicative. There were rarely times when I was like “I just want Phthalo Blue to be a little greener.”

Could a PB16 replace PB15? I toyed with that for awhile, using one of the bluer iterations, WN Phthalo Turquoise. PB16 teals have more range than PB15 blues typically (they get darker in masstone), which should make them more useful; and in a vacuum, this color reads to me like a true cyan, which is a primary color. But in practice, I found that I lost some versatility compared to Phthalo Blue, largely because I no longer felt that I could use it as a sky color. To me, Phthalo Blue Green Shade borders on being too green for skies, and PB16 turquoises definitely are (even the bluer ones). Also, it’s subtle, but PB16 is slightly more muted than PB15, which is a hard sell for me as a brightness lover.

I have found some use cases for PB16. For example, I painted this undersea scene mostly with Mission Gold Peacock Blue. This was a situation where I needed just a lot of the same color of paint.

“Underwater Journey” from Kolbie Blume’s 10-Day Painting the Wilderness: Seascapes challenge.

And Daniel Smith’s Phthalo Turquoise is perfect for a very specific lens flare color, as seen in the light over the horizon here.

Tutorial from Kolbie Blume’s Wilderness Watercolor Landscapes

But most of the time, I find my needs are met perfectly well – or better – with Phthalo Green and Blue vs. Turquoise. When it comes to clothes, I’d always rather choose a color that’s in-between green and blue, but when it comes to paint, I think maybe it’s better to have them separate. Even when I want to paint something blue-green, like a tropical sea, I’d rather use multiple colors so I can make some spots more blue and some more green. The perfect exact color doesn’t allow you to do color changes.

On my palette? A couple of these are on my B team because I just can’t quit them.

Favorite version: Winsor & Newton offers the PB16 with the largest range and the most useful hue, in my opinion, and it is the only one I’ve semi-successfully used in place of a Phthalo Blue. But if you’re talking pure lovability, Holbein’s Marine Blue is a color I just adore. I am also deeply into Daniel Smith’s Phthalo Turquoise (the mixed one), it is just absolutely gorgeous to look at and has a ginormous range, though I can’t justify giving palette space to a convenience mix when I have both components on my palette.

Alternatives: If you have Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) and Phthalo Green (either yellow shade or blue shade), you can mix extremely close hues for all of these.

1 thought on “Color Spotlight: Phthalo Turquoise (PB16)”

  1. I also really like this color, and am trying to accommodate it by using it to replace PB15:3 and shifting my green from PG7 to PG36, which is another great color. This is a fun combo for painting seascapes.

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