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).

Lightfastness for Winsor & Newton Phthalo Turquoise (PB16)

Lightfastness test for WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16). Left: window swatch, exposed to western light in Boston, MA, from May 30-December 9, 2023. Right: Protected strip.

I really can’t tell the difference between these. Great job!!

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).

This Phthalo Turquoise mix 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

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 has texture, but I find it to be sort of a halfway point between smoothness and granulation.

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.

“Underwater Journey” from Kolbie Blume’s 10-Day Painting the Wilderness: Seascapes challenge. Painted mostly with Mission Gold Peacock Blue.

Color Mixes

These are done with PB16 Phthalo Turquoises; either Da Vinci or Winsor & Newton.

Imidazolone Lemon (PY175)

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

Very cool greens; not out-of-this-world neon-bright as those with Phthalo Green and Lemon Yellow, but still plenty bold for a summer leaf green.

Rich Green Gold (PY129)

DS Rich Green Gold (PY129) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Canson XL

Very bold, wide-ranging, middle greens! I like this mix as an alternative to Hooker’s Green or Sap Green. These are green mixes that look very vivid and deep and green to me, yet are more realistic for foliage (e.g. leaves, pine needles) than the types of mixes you can mix with Phthalo Green.

Nickel Azo Yellow (PY150)

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

More vivid jewel greens, similar to the RGG mixes. Also great for a Hooker’s Green or Sap Green type mix! I’m not sure if I like these or the RGG ones better. The middle greens are quite similar. PY150 has a more straightforwardly yellowy look. Ironically these come across as cooler to me than the RGG ones, even though I’d say that RGG is a cooler (more green-toned) yellow.

Quinacridone Gold (PY150, PO48)

DS Quin Gold + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Canson XL

Similar to the plain PY150 mixes, but as once might expect, they are more muted and brownish. There is still a glowing gold quality. I could see using these for muted foliage or sea blues, but Nickel Azo Yellow unmixed is better for bold spring/summer green foliage.

Hansa Yellow Deep (PY65)

WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) + WN Winsor Yellow Deep (PY65) on Canson XL

Medium-muted greens, ranging from dark turquoise to dirty yellow-green. These could be very good for certain types of foliage, though I personally prefer the PY129 or PY150 mixes.

Benzimida Orange (PO62)

DV Benzimida Orange (PO62) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Canson XL

Although Benzimida Orange closely resembles Hansa Yellow Deep when painted out, they mix differently, particularly in this example. While HYD made greens with Phthalo Turquoise, BO has more of a muting effect, making browns (pretty ugly ones) and grayish turquoise/seafoam colors (pretty nice ones!)

Transparent Orange (DPP)

WN Transparent Orange (DPP) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB15) on Canson XL

Not a fan of the browns but the muted gray-turquoises are nice. I especially like the dark turquouse. I could see this used for ocean colors, especially a stormy/rainy sea. The yellower seafoam mixes above (e.g. from MANS or Raw Sienna) are nicer for calm seas.

Benzimida Orange Deep (PO36)

DV Benzimida Orange Deep (PO36) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16)

Naphthol Scarlet (PR188)

DS Permanent Red (PR188) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Canson XL

This combination makes a striking black. PR188 is an effective muter for PB16.

Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255)

WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) + DS Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255)

Near complement, it’s possible to achieve fairly neutral grays here, as well as dark turquoises and purplish tones.

Deep Scarlet (PR175)

WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) + DS Deep Scarlet (PR175) on Canson XL

Muted grays/maroons. Close to a complement. I think these are prettier than the Pyrrol Scarlet ones. I especially like the mostly-PB16 mix which forms a really nice dark teal.

Pyrrole Rubin (PR264)

WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) + Holbein Pyrrole Rubin (PR264) on Canson XL

Grape juice purples; Perylene Violet hues.

Alizarin Crimson (PV19)

DV Alizarin Crimson Quinacridone (PV19) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Canson XL

Moderate, stately purples, neither particularly muted nor particularly bright.

Quin Rose (PV19)

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

More purple-blues. Very dark colors are possible.

Quinacridone Magenta (PR122)

HO Quin Magenta (PR122) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Canson XL

A range of vibrant violets and deep blues; surprisingly clean & bright considering the greenness of PB16.

Potter’s Pink (PR233)

MaimeriBlu Potter’s Pink (PR233) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Casnon XL

Typical PP mix, with floating granulation.

Dioxazine Violet (PV23)

DS Carbazole Violet (PV23) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Canson XL

There’s something magical to me about the way these combine to make a dark blue, similar to Indanthrene.

WN Smalt (Ultramarine Violet)

WN Smalt (PV15) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Canson XL

WN Smalt (Dumont’s Blue) is a PV15 ultramarine violet that’s quite blue-toned, sort of like Ultramarine Blue but more violety. It’s quite granulating and you can see exactly where the granulation ends in the gradient. I like the way the two extremes here of violet-blue and turquoise-blue – neither of them quite blue – mix to make an interesting set of complex middle blues.

Ultramarine Blue

DV Ultramarine (PB29) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Canson XL

In the Nature Spot challenge, I found Ultramarine + Phthalo Turquoise to be a lovely sky mixer, especially when diluted and/or mixed with white. Without the white, it is easy to get it too dark for a daytime sky, but the dark shades also strike me as being lovely for the ocean – textured and violet-toned from the Ultramarine but with that greenish gleam from the turquoise.

Monte Amiata Natural Sienna (PBr7)

DS Monte Amiata Natural Sienna MANS (PBr7) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Canson XL

This earth yellow made from PBr7 (a brown pigment from iron oxide) does not readily make “greeny” greens and also doesn’t make gray, instead making earthy-yet-bright seafoam colors with visible yellowish granulation.

Raw Sienna (PBr7)

DV Raw Sienna (PBr7) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Canson XL

Raw Sienna is somewhat similar to MANS but, being more orange-toned, makes somewhat more muted mixes. The browns are uglier. Less visible granulation and smoother color in the seafoams. Doesn’t get very dark (adding more blue is required to make it darker), so better for light ocean blues than dark ones. But that light seafoam second from the left on the bottom looks perfect ot me for the moment when the sun catches the water.

Similar hue to Transparent Orange, maybe a bit redder. I find these browns very ugly. The muted turquoises are okay, but I think other colors do a better job for seafoam.

Quinacridone Burnt Orange (PO48)

DS Quinacridone Burnt Orange (PO48) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Canson XL

Altogether I find this full range of earth orange mixes much nicer than the plain oranges. This makes surprisingly lovely light and dark turquoise blues.

Transparent Red Oxide (PR101)

DS Transparent Red Oxide (PR101) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Canson XL

Darker and deeper than QBO, Transparent Red Oxide mixes make near-black greens, dark turquoises, and cool browns. In dilute, red oxide granulation has a tendency to separate out forming visible flecks in the turquoise background.

Da Vinci’s Burnt Sienna Deep, made with the same pigment, is a bit more orangey and makes slightly warmer mixes, but I had a harder time getting them as dark.

DV Burnt Sienna Deep (PR101) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Canson Xl

Indian Red (PR101)

DV Indian Red (PR101) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Canson XL

Fairly neutral grays are possible, with visible floating Indian Red granulation.

Burnt Umber (PBr7)

DS Burnt Umber (PBr7) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Canson XL

Gets very dark.

Raw Umber

DV Raw Umber (PBr7) + WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Canson XL

Moody, muted brown-greens. Surprisingly, not as dark as the Burnt Umber versions.

My Overall Thoughts

Blue-greens are my favorite colors IRL, so I love all of these! Like other Phthalo colors, they have huge ranges, and every shade along the way is gorgeous.

I initially tried this on my palette alongside Phthalo Blue Green Shade, but found they were too similar – it felt kind of pointless to have both. Even more dissimilar shades, such as Holbein’s Marine Blue and the mixed teals, covered very similar use cases and mixed similarly to PBGS.

As a beginner, I tended to prefer Phthalo Blue Green Shade, because:

  • Being closer to the idea of “blue”, it was easier for me to mentally parse.
  • It is popular; there are lots of tutorials and resources online showing how to use it as a primary cyan.
  • Unmixed, it’s pretty close to the ideal color for the bottom/horizon tone of a pure blue sky (turquoise can be too green).
  • It is extremely bright, and that makes me happy.

However, over time, I’ve gradually come to appreciate PB16 as a primary cyan.

  • It has a bit more range and gets a bit darker in masstone than Phthalo Blue. It’s overall a bit more muted, so it doesn’t look out of place or “jump out” in landscapes, but still looks very bright and happy in context.
  • It mixes just the most gorgeous greens, with deep, wide, luscious range, that are more realistic than those with Phthalo Green, but still extremely intense.
  • It’s a sweet spot between the brightness of Phthalo Blue or Green, and the mutedness/darkness of Prussian Blue.

While I’ll still sometimes drop Phthalo Blue GS, Phthalo Green, or Prussian Blue into my painting if it’s the perfect color for something, in general I’m finding Phthalo Turquoise really useful for almost all the use cases of all three of those colors, making it a winner for a limited/travel palette.

On my palette? Yes!

Favorite version: Winsor & Newton; this is just a classic PB16 with the largest range and the most useful hue, in my opinion. DV Phthalo Turquoise is similar.

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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