Da Vinci paints are made in California and tend to be cheaper than Daniel Smith, Winsor Newton, and Schmincke (at least here in the U.S.), but to me they look just as good; some colors I like better!
Da Vinci’s dot card has only 24 colors (a fraction of its line), but they are well-chosen, vibrant, and I loved every single one. I also created more work for myself by augmenting it with a few additional colors that I wanted to try & took a chance on.
As usual, I’m not terribly interested in the Cadmiums.
Hansa Yellow Light looks just like Daniel Smith’s, but Da Vinci describes it as fully transparent, which makes it more interesting to me. DS’s is semi-opaque and for that reason I sometimes felt it didn’t glaze well and remained aloof in mixes. Opaque colors can be useful, but I find them more interesting on robust colors like red. Since I so often use yellow for glows, glazes, and shafts of light, it’s good to be transparent!
Hansa Yellow Deep also looks really nice as an alternative to DS New Gamboge, SH Yellow Orange, etc. To me it looks just like Daniel Smith’s PY65 Hansa Yellow Deep. Bold, orangey, and easy to paint.
Da Vinci Yellow (which is not on the dot card, hence I dropped it in out of order on the second row) is a PY154 yellow equivalent to my faves, WN Winsor Yellow or SH Pure Yellow. I found this surprising because it looks like a darker, mustardy yellow, closer to DS Hansa Yellow Medium. But, wait, is this how it’s supposed to look? Am I just getting the full color out of the DV yellow but only ever got paler color from the others due to my poor water control???
Nickel Azo Yellow (not on the dot card, squished in at the side) looks very similar to DS’s version, warm and granulating in masstone and cool and transparent in dilute. I’m not sure if it’s a quality of the color in general, or if I got a dud tube, but I found this paint easily separates from the binder and has a weird smell. I’m very sensitive to smells, so this is enough to put me off this one.
Da Vinci Orange is the equivalent of DS Pyrrol Orange or WN Winsor Orange (Red Shade). To me it looks more like the latter, which is a good thing; I love that color. It’s just such a dark, juicy orange, so red-toned it can fill in for a warm red.
Da Vinci Red is the equivalent of DS Pyrrol Red, a mid bright red, and it certainly looks just as vibrant.
Quinacridone Red looks just like DS Quin Coral, which is one of my favorite colors! A nice deep coral pink.
It’s hard to tell the difference between Red Rose Deep and Permanent Rose. Both are made from PV19. I thought perhaps they had renamed the color (Perm Rose isn’t on the dot card), but I see they are offering both on the website. I guess Red Rose Deep is infinitesimally redder and darker, and Perm Rose seems to be pinker and to have a bit more drying shift/less dark darks. I think I prefer Red Rose Deep.
Opus is a nice bright neon Opera Pink variant. I like it far better than Daniel Smith’s rather weak granulating version. It looks pretty similar to Schmincke’s. It’s not quite as neon as the Mission Gold variant I use now, a bit closer to straight PR122, but still very deep and bright.
Alizarin Crimson (Quinacridone) isn’t on the dot card, so you can see it squished in at the end. This is actually a hue made from PV19, the same pigment as Red Rose Deep/Perm Rose. I was afraid it would be too similar, but it’s strikingly different; not pink at all, a nice deep scarlet. It does become pink in dilute, but a very “light red” sort of pink.
As is typical for these pigments, Ultramarine Violet painted out rather weak and was difficult to get a dark color from, while Da Vinci Violet (equivalent of DS Carbazole Violet or WN Winsor Violet Dioxazine) was nice and dark. If I want a PV23, this one will totally work, although I haven’t felt a need for it when dark purples are pretty easy to mix from dark blue + magenta.
Ultramarine looks a lot like DS Ultramarine (the standard Ultramarine rather than the more granulating French Ultramarine). It’s very vibrant, bold, purple-toned, and medium granulating. Nice to have a good cheap source for that color as well!
I was delighted by the Cobalt Blue which felt like it painted out easier and bolder than the DS version! I’ve been told that Cobalt and Ultramarine are similar colors but never really got it because Cobalt always looked so much weaker, but they actually do look like similar colors in this brand. I may… actually… choose between them and choose Cobalt (!!!!)
Phthalo Blue was shockingly not on the dot card (why not??? It’s such a basic color!) but since I needed more Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) anyway, I tried it separately. I’m happy with it! It gets dark, it goes cyan, it’s all I want from a PB15:3. (The website just calls this ‘PB15’, but c’mon. C’mon.) It does not have quite the same Phthalo Superpowers as Daniel Smith’s because it doesn’t go quite as dark and is on the muted side in masstone, but those attributes also make it easier to work with in practice.
Prussian Blue was also not on the dot card, and a separate purchase (find it at the bottom of the page). This looks more green-toned and less muted than DS Prussian Blue, and more similar to Phthalo Blue than I’m used to (perhaps also because of the relative mutedness of Phthalo Blue). In masstone they are quite similar in this brand, though Prussian Blue doesn’t go through the bright cyan midtones of Phthalo Blue. I found it easy to get a dark shade from this Prussian, and the drying shift (Prussian Blue always has a bit of one) made it lighter but not duller, which is fun!
Back up to the main blue section, Cobalt Turquoise was one of my favorite finds of this entire dot card! It is the same pigment as DS Cerulean Blue Chromium (DV also offers a more traditional PB36 Cerulean called Cerulean Genuine), but much bolder and greener; it’s a true turquoise shade and looks very much like SH Cobalt Turquoise (PG50). Since SH Cobalt Turquoise is one of my very favorite colors, marred only by its unholy expensiveness, I am delighted to find this alternative! DV’s version gets a lot darker and bolder than the DS versions of either PB36 or PG50. I like its moderate granulation – enough to be textured but not enough to be totally wild.
I didn’t know PB36 could be like that! Finally I understand what people see in it. (And I also feel more vindicated in using Cobalt Turquoise as an alternative to Cerulean, though I know it’s not really the same.)
I didn’t think there was much more I could learn about Phthalo Green (PG7, equivalent of DS Phthalo Green Blue Shade), but I was wrong! This PG7 is less blue-toned than DS’s (perhaps because DV doesn’t offer a PG36 Phthalo Green Yellow Shade), and is more of a middle green, similar to Winsor & Newton’s. This makes it a better overall mixing green, I suspect. Since I only want one Phthalo Green on my palette, this one looks like an absolutely good choice.
Not much to say about the mixes. Hooker’s Green was weirdly hard to get dark, perhaps because it uses PY42 ochre, which isn’t my favorite. Leaf Green is an easy home mix.
Perylene Green wasn’t on the dot card, but was on my shopping list, so I picked it up anyway. I squeezed it in at the side there. Looks like a nice one – easy to get dark-black and lightens to a pine green.
Yellow Ochre (PY43) never inspires me, and here is no exception. Kind of a dull brown that’s more opaque than I’d like.
Quinacridone Gold is very interesting here. It’s a combination of PY150 (Nickel Azo Yellow) and PR206 (DV doesn’t offer this on its own, but DS makes one called Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet). PR206 is a more red shade than DS’s mixer of PO48 (Quin Burnt Orange) or SH’s mixer of PR101 (Transparent Red Oxide). The result is much more orange than DS’s or SH’s versions. I think this is more of a Burnt Sienna alternative than a yellow ochre alternative. It’s an interesting color although I couldn’t use it exactly as I would use DS’s Quin Gold.
Burnt Sienna Deep is not really a burnt sienna; it’s a PR101 equivalent to DS Transparent Red Oxide. It looks quite similar in color, and is still noticeable granulating, though perhaps less enthusastically than DS’s version. I’d be open to trying this if I decide to keep TRO in my Earth Orange slot, but I’m giving Holbein’s nongranulating Burnt Sienna for a spin now.
Terra Cotta doesn’t interest me much. It’s a semi-opaque, nongranulating, somewhere between Burnt Sienna and Indian Red.
Burnt Umber looks fine. You know I don’t go crazy for earth tones. I think I prefer the granulation of my DS Transparent Brown Oxide which is a similar color.
Payne’s Gray is nice, a very cool, dark, and low-granulating form made from Prussian Blue and Lamp Black (instead of DS’s Ultramarine and Lamp Black). It does everything I want Payne’s Gray to do: get super-dark and be blue. I like this way better than Daniel Smith’s version, though I still think I may stick with a Neutral Tint over a Payne’s Gray.
The worst thing I did was trying this out when I’m pretty well stocked up, but a lot of these are excellent replacements next time I’m out of something – almost always cheaper than SH or WN (for me), often cheaper than DS, and in many cases, I like it better!
Here are all the lateral or improvement moves I will consider next time I’m out of something. (Not all of these colors are in my palette at the moment, but you never know.)
- For a cool yellow, instead of Winsor Lemon: DV Hansa Yellow Light
- For warm yellow, instead of New Gamboge: DV Hansa Yellow Deep
- For a red-orange, instead Winsor Orange (Red Shade): Da Vinci Orange
- For a bold mid red, instead of DS Pyrrol Red: Da Vinci Red
- For a striking scarlet, instead of DS Pyrrol Crimson or Alizarin Red: DV Alizarin Crimson hue
- For coral/warm pink, in place of DS Quin Coral: DV Quin Red
- For magenta/rose, in place of DS Quin Rose: DV Red Rose Deep or Perm Rose
- For opera pink, in place of MG Bright Opera: DV Opus
- For warm blue, in place of DS Ultramarine: DV Ultramarine Blue
- For neutral blue, in place of DS Cobalt Blue: DV Cobalt Blue (* I like this one significantly better)
- For cyan, in place of DS PBGS: DV Phthalo Blue
- For turquoise, in place of SH Cobalt Turquoise: DV Cobalt Turquoise
- For mixing green, in place of DS PGBS: DV Phthalo Green (* I like this one a bit better)
- For granulating earth orange, in place of Transparent Red Oxide: DV Burnt Sienna Deep
- For cool gray, in place of DS Payne’s Gray: DV Payne’s Gray (* I like this one better)
That’s a whole palette right there!
For reference, here are some colors I like that I wouldn’t/couldn’t get from DV:
- Buff titanium – afaik, only Daniel Smith offers this.
- Nickel Azo Yellow – as I mentioned, I’ve never tried this from another company, so I’m not sure if it’s generally a quality of the shade, but the smell was off-putting.
- Non-cadmium orange-red – DV doesn’t offer a Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255) alternative.
- Indanthrone Blue (PB60) – one of my favorite colors in DS. DV offers one, but I didn’t try it, because it’s not on the dot card and I’ve heard that it runs much greener than DS’s. There are already plenty of green-blues I like, so I’m not inclined to go greener with Indanthrone. I like how purple DS’s is!
- Granulating green mixer – Because I’m a princess who can only use a Daniel Smith Primatek. (However this is an optional color since Prussian Blue and Cobalt Turquoise both mix granulating greens.)
- Rich Green Gold – DV offers a PY129, but I’m skittish because it’s not on the dot card and the pictures on the site didn’t make it look as nice as DS’s.
- Quin Gold – I prefer DS’s but perhaps because I am used to it. I think if pressed I could get used to DV’s, but why?
- Burnt Sienna – If I decide to stick with a PBr7 version. DS only has the TRO equivalent in this slot.
- Burnt Umber – It’s fine but nothing compares 2 DS Transparent Brown Oxide.
And some where I just don’t know:
- Dark red/crimson – DV doesn’t offer a PR264 (DS Pyrrol Crimson), though they do offer a Perylene Maroon and an “Alizarin Crimson” hue which is made from PV19 (my instinct is that this would be too close to my PV19 rose but I’m open to being wrong.)
- Phthalo Blue Red Shade – DV offers it, but I haven’t tried it because it only comes in 15ml tubes and I wasn’t ready to commit. It’s probably fine.
- Raw Sienna – They didn’t offer one on the dot card, though Scratchmade Journal says it looks like DS Monte Amiata Natural Sienna and if so, I’m there.
- Raw Umber – idk, theirs is probably fine. I don’t have a strong attachment to another Raw Umber.
- Neutral Tint – probably fine. Uses the same mix as DS’s. I’d be willing to take a chance on it when I run out. It’s only Neutral Tint.