Dark Magenta Part II: Carbazole Violet, Perylene Violet, and Bordeaux

After swapping out options for a dark magenta last week, I found that I had stuck too close to home and chosen colors too similar to my primary magenta. So, today, I’m comparing my favorite of those options – Bordeaux (PV32) – with two strikingly dark purple colors: Perylene Violet (PV29) and Carbazole Violet (PV23).

From left: DS Bordeaux (PV32), DS Perylene Violet (PV29), DS Carbazole Violet (PV23) on Canson XL

Bordeaux is a deep crimson-magenta. Perylene Violet is what DS calls a “grape juice color,” a purplish-reddish-brown shade that’s warm and muted. And Carbazole Violet is a classic blue-purple.

These colors are pretty easy to tell apart unmixed, but what is their palette role? How do they mix with other colors?

Color Mixes

Quin Magenta (PR122)

Bordeaux (left) is the most similar to magenta, though still distinguishable. Carbazole Violet (right) is the most different, creating a hue as well a value gradient. Perylene Violet (middle) looks most promisingly like the missing link I was looking for: similar hue to magenta, but much darker!

Deep Scarlet (PR175)

Bordeaux (left) is most similar in hue and value to Deep Scarlet; together they create a bold crimson. This is a similar behavior to primary magenta, though a bit darker.

The mix with Perylene Violet (middle) becomes more brownish: deep brownish-reds similar to Indian Red (PR101) though less opaque.

The mix with mostly Carbazole Violet (right) and a bit of Deep Scarlet makes a reasonable Perylene Violet hue. In dilute, these mixes are much more granulating than the others.

Pure Yellow (PY154)

You get pretty bold corals with Bordeaux (though obviously not as glowing as with PR122 primary magenta). Perylene Violet is much browner/grayer, and Carbazole Violet is extremely dull gray/black mud.

Phthalo Turquoise (PB16)

(Apologies for putting the blue on a different side for the Bordeaux mix.)

These mixes look super-different!

Bordeaux (left) mixes vivid middle purples, similar to magenta.

Perylene Violet (middle) makes a much more muted blue-purple-gray-black. At a lower concentration, the Perylene Violet effectively mutes the Phthalo Turquoise to a muted dark blue night sky shade.

Carbazole Violet (right) makes a vivid dark violet-blue.

Phthalo Green (PG7)

These are also really different.

With Bordeaux, you mostly get muted purples. The mostly-Bordeaux version is a muted dark plum.

Perylene Violet + Phthalo Green actually makes striking blacks!

Carbazole Violet makes a range of dark blues. In dilute, the purple granulation floats above the green. There is a glowing quality to the more purpley blues that gives me a real night-sky vibe.

Practical Test: Magenta Shadows

Since I’m looking for a dark magenta, I decided to attempt a true test with two of my main contenders and paint a pink tree with Quin Magenta, dropping in Bordeaux or Perylene Violet wet-in-wet for shadows. I expected Perylene Violet to look nicer, to be honest. Here were my results:

Pink trees painted with Quin Magenta. On the left, I painted shadows with DS Bordeaux (PV32), and on the right, I painted shadows with DS Perylene Violet (PV29). The trunks are Letter Sparrow Violet Umber.

While Bordeaux is, as expected, a bit too red – and dries weirdly dull if overdiluted – Perylene Violet did something I did not expect: it pushed away the Quin Magenta pigment and dried extremely light with visible white spots. It is not a team player wet-in-wet. I’m not 100% satisfied with Bordeaux but at least it did roughly what I expected it to; Perylene Violet was totally unsuccessful.


It turns out that these three colors have pretty strikingly different palette roles.

Bordeaux is the most similar to a primary magenta; my concern about is that it’s too similar to justify having both, yet it’s not as good at being a primary magenta as something like PR122 or PV19 rose.

Carbazole Violet is the least similar to magenta; it’s a classic blue-purple that gets super-dark. It’s too different from magenta to be successful as a shadow color; you might as well use blue.

Perylene Violet is the best “dark magenta” in terms of hue, but it did not handle the way I expected it to in a practical test. It’s not good wet-in-wet, and not team player with Quin Magenta. I expect I need to learn better how to use it.

For now, Bordeaux continues to be my closest “dark magenta.”