Color Spotlight: Cobalt Turquoise (PG50, PB28, or PB36)

Schmincke Horadam Cobalt Turquoise: Gradient, opacity and glazing tests, color mixes

Cobalt Turquoise is a super bright, true turquoise usually made from the pigment PG50 (same as Cobalt Green), though sometimes from PB28 (same as Cobalt Blue) or PB36 (same as Cerulean Blue). In any formulation, it is derived from the heavy metal cobalt.

Experiment Results

Gradient: A nice even gradient. This color doesn’t get very dark, but it does get incredibly bright, making it a wonderful pop color.

Opacity: I can see some dusting on the black line. I think “semi-opaque” is right.

Glazing: Noticeably stronger but not really darker in glaze.

Cobalt Turquoise lifting test
Cobalt Turquoise lifting test: wet lift (dry paper towel dabbing wet paint) vs dry lift (wet paper towel scrubbing dry paint)

Lifting: Easy lift both wet and dry.

Palette Appearance

A neat thing about this color is how cool the leftover mixes look in the palette!

Qor Cobalt Teal (PG50) mixes left in my palette.

Comparison to Other Brands

Daniel Smith – Cobalt Teal Blue (PG50)

I first encountered PG50 as the Daniel Smith color Cobalt Teal Blue, but I found that one so granulating that it was hard to work with.

Daniel Smith Cobalt Teal Blue: gradient, opacity and glazing, color mixes

The Daniel Smith PG50 is a bit greener and much more granulating, to the point where you can clearly see the granules. I found it difficult to get a dark color in mass or to mix evenly with other colors. In some cases you may want the super-granulated look, in which case this the one to opt for. Personally for the use cases where I like this color – tropical seas, ice shadows, pop art – I prefer a more even color, as well as a bluer one. The Schmincke is still granulating, but far neater and smaller-grained, as well as stronger in pigment strength.

Da Vinci – Cobalt Turquoise (PG36)

Da Vinci – Cobalt Turquoise vs. SH Cobalt Turquoise

The Da Vinci Cobalt Turquoise is actually made from PG36, the same pigment as Cerulean Blue, rather than PG50. However, the color is extremely similar to my PG50 Cobalt Turquoise; just slightly greener.

An advantage to using PG36 is that the pigment is less toxic (has less cobalt) than PG50; however, a warning that Lisa Spangler finds the DV version takes on a “maple syrup like” texture in hot climates. I haven’t observed this personally, but I live north of the 42nd parallel and have only ever been to the desert in the winter.

Cobalt Turquoise Deep (PB36)

Da Vinci Cobalt Turquoise Deep (PB36)
Da Vinci Cobalt Turquoise Deep (PB36) on Canson XL

Da Vinci also offers as darker, duller turquoise made from the same PB36 pigment. Like its lighter counterpart, it’s opaque and granulating. I’m not as big a fan of this one (I think transparent dark turquoises like PB16 are nicer for dark colors and PG50 is nicer for brights), so this is the last you’ll see of it, but it does exist.

Color Mixes

Generally the mixes with blue and green are extremely beautiful, adding a shimmering dimensionality and vividness. It makes dark blues/greens look almost animated, like moving water. The mixes with reds create a range of muted purples. Light yellows turn neon green; while oranges and earth tones are not very inspired.

Lemon Yellow

Lemon Yellow + Cobalt Turquoise
Winsor Lemon (PY175) + Schmincke Cobalt Turquoise (PG50) on Wonder Forest paper

Super neon mints and limes. Perfect for a Lisa Frank palette! (Not what you’re after if you want “natural” greens, lol.)

Nickel Azo Yellow

Mission Gold Green Gold (PY150) + SH Cobalt Turquoise

Range of neon yellow-greens to cool mint greens, almost as bold as Lemon Yellow! The green here is similar to Cobalt Green. Cobalt Turquoise granulation floats in diluted mixes.

Rich Green Gold

Rich Green Gold + Cobalt Turquoise
Daniel Smith Rich Green Gold (PY129) + Schmincke Horadam Cobalt Turquoise (PG50) on Wonder Forest paper

These mixes are also bold and vivid, but less neon. Juicy pear rather than electric lime.

Monte Amiata Natural Sienna

SH Cobalt Turquoise (PG50) + DS Monte Amiata Natural Sienna (PBr7) on Stilman & Birn Beta

I really like the sage-ish greens on the left, and the olives in the third column are nice too. Saturated, but never dark. The Cobalt Turquoise granulation floats, and turns olive-green when there’s enough MANS.

Lunar Earth (PBr11)

DS Lunar Earth (PBr11) + DV Cobalt Turquoise (PB36) on Canson XL

Very color-separating browns, I don’t really like them.

Transparent Red Oxide (PR101)

DV Burnt Sienna Deep (PR101) + DV Cobalt Turquoise (PB36) on Canson XL

Interesting browns, though I can’t really think of much application for these.

Indian Red (PR101)

DV Indian Red (PR101) + DV Cobalt Turquoise (PB36) on Canson XL

Fairly even, slightly warm grays. Try IR with Cerulean for more violety grays.

Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255)

Cobalt Turquoise + Pyrrol Scarlet
Schmincke Horadam Cobalt Turquoise (PG50) + Daniel Smith Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255) on Wonder Forest paper

Since Pyrrol Scarlet is red-orange, it’s basically a complement of turquoise; and because it’s another semi-opaque, it makes a gray that never really gets dark.

Quinacridone Coral

DS Quin Coral (PR209) + SH Cobalt Turquoise (PG50) on Wonder Forest paper

Less gray than Pyrrol Scarlet, much less of a complement, making grayish purples.

Quinacridone Rose

Red Rose Deep + Cobalt Turquoise
Da Vinci Red Rose Deep (PV19) + Schmincke Horadam Cobalt Turquoise (PG50)

Striking lilacs with the Cobalt Turquoise bluish shades floating above a pink background.

Potter’s Pink

MaimeriBlu Potter’s Pink (PR233) + Schmincke Horadam Cobalt Turquoise

Super-granulating gray-brown blends with the Potter’s Pink floating above the Turquoise. Since we’ve seen Turquoise float in other blends, it’s interesting to see it fade to the background here.

Indanthrone Blue

Cobalt Turquoise + Indanthrone Blue
SH Cobalt Turquoise (PG50) + DS Indanthrone Blue (PB60) on Arches

Flip this 90 degrees so the Indanthrone is on the top, and it’s a gorgeous, highly contrasted night sky-to-glowing-horizon mix. The contrast between the flecks of light, opaque turquoise floating above the dark blue background also creates a glowing appearance in the more highly pigmented mixes, while the diluted mixes look like bright sky or pool-water colors.

Ultramarine Blue

Cobalt Turquoise + French Ultramarine
Schmincke Horadam Cobalt Turquoise (PG50) + Holbein Ultramarine Deep (PB29) in an Etchr Perfect Sketchbook

My favorite mix here is the one balanced toward Cobalt Turquoise where the granulation of the French Ultramarine dances on top of the turquoise without mixing in. There’s a summery, tropical ocean quality to both of these colors, together and separately. This could also potentially be a sky mix, with Ultramarine at the zenith and Cobalt Turquoise at the horizon, though I find the mix a bit too textured to look sky-like to me.

Cobalt Blue

Cobalt Turquoise + Cobalt Blue
SH Cobalt Turquoise (PG50) + DV Cobalt Blue (PB28) on Arches

To me, this is a more usable sky mix than that with deep Ultramarine. (A light ultramarine might work as well.) The mix makes a bright, bold, cheerful cyan, which looks in dilute the way I always expect/want Cerulean to look (actual Cerulean is duller).

I discovered from Maria Coryell-Martin’s Cloudscapes class that it can be a lovely mix for a blue sky, with the Cobalt Blue zenith fading to a Cobalt Turquoise horizon.

Cloudscape with Cobalt Blue fading to Cobalt Turquoise

Lightfastness Test

I tested Da Vinci Cobalt Turquoise (PB36).

Lightfastness test for Da Vinci Cobalt Turquoise (PB36). Left: window swatch, exposed to western light in Boston, MA, from May 30-December 9, 2023. Right: Protected strip.

I see no difference between these strips other than natural variation from the way I painted them out. A+!

What Others Say

The turquoise and blue green shades of PG50 are among my favorite paints. The pastel quality is not added but integral to the pigment, which make interesting whitened mixtures with violets, blues, and greens. The cobalt turquoise alone provides bright, light greens with cadmium lemon (PY37) or copper azomethine (PY129), can be used to whiten and dull cadmium yellow deep (PY35) into an unusual “naples yellow,” mixes with phthalo green BS (PG7) to make a lovely emerald green, mixes well with cobalt blue (PB28) to mimic the cloudy green tone of cerulean blues, provides an incomparable greenish blue glow in sky washes and landscape foundation tints, and makes a gorgeous soft violet gray when mixed with a dark bluish red quinacridone (PR122 or PV19). (Did I mention this is one of my favorite paints?) The PG50 green pigments are relatively flat, often granulating, and yet have a subtle, unique color quality. Using them has helped me to see new avenues of design and color composition. I urge you to give them a look: as relatively novel paints, they have interesting potential, worth investigating.

Bruce MacEvoy,

It’s my favourite colour and I love the creamy opaque quality of the Winsor Newton version.

Liz Steel, Colours in my palette: Green and turquoise

Here are some of my uses for PG50:

  • I use this on it’s own for the color of the sky close to the horizon — I find it’s a much better match for desert skies than the more commonly used cerulean blue.
  • Mixed with DS Venetian red it makes the perfect opaque desert green. Its opacity makes it where I can paint over backgrounds and gives agaves, cacti, yuccas and succulents a solid feeling instead of a transparent leafy green.
  • Mixed with quin rose it makes lovely granulating purples.
  • With quin gold it turns a bright spring green.
  • Mixed with raw sienna makes a paler desert green.
Lisa Spangler, An Ode to Cobalt Teal Blue (PG50)

My Review of Cobalt Turquoise

I struggled with Daniel Smith Cobalt Teal Blue – generally liking how it looked in my palette more than how it looked in my paintings – but I fell in love with the Schmincke PG50. As a True Summer, I do love my turquoises! Like Opera Pink, it’s a bit of a special effect paint: so freakin’ bright that it’s almost garish (I mean that in the best way), only unlike Opera Pink, it is lightfast!

As much as I like it, I do somewhat struggle to find use cases for it. It’s so color-separating that it’s unparalleled for that kind of dappled effect, but frustrating if you’re someone who prefers colors that disappear in mixes.

In my palette? It comes on and off. It’s not one of my go-tos but it’s in the extended library. It’s on the Neon Palette.

Favorite version: Schmincke Horadam for PG50, Da Vinci for PG36. I find them interchangeable.

Alternatives: Though I prefer Cobalt Turquoise in swatches, I think Cerulean Blue is a more usable color for granulating blue mixes. For smoother colors, a Phthalo Blue/Green mix can make quite a bright turquoise.