Color Spotlight: Pyrrol Red (PR254)

Daniel Smith Pyrrol Red: gradient, opacity and glazing tests, color mixes

Pyrrol Red is a straight-ahead, middle red, the platonic ideal of red! The color of fire engines, cardinals, and yew berries, it’s very bright and bold with a slight orange bias. Its closest complement is Phthalo Green Yellow Shade.

The Stats

Pigment: PR254
Series: 3
Lightfastness: I – Excellent
Transparency: Semi-Transparent
Staining: 3-Medium Staining
Granulation: Non-Granulating

Experiment Results

Gradient: Just a gorgeous smooth gradient. It was easy to get bold color from this one. I wrote ‘nice handling!’ on the bottom because it was just such a joy.

Opacity: Less opaque than its cousin, Pyrrol Scarlet. There was a small, almost undetectable amount of pigment visible on black.

Glazing: Glazes to a nice deep barn red.

Colors Mixes: Great for mixing brights in the pink, orange, and earth tone family.

  • Gorgeous bright Quin Gold-esque color with Pure Yellow (PY154)
  • Struggled with Yellow Orange probably because it was a Schmincke paint and I always overdilute them, but it looks like you can at least get peachy tones
  • Bold coral with Quin Rose
  • Slightly muddy Alizarin Crimson-esque color with Quin Purple
  • Shockingly gorgeous maroon with Ultramarine
  • Gray-violet with Phthalo Blue Green Shade
  • Gray-green with Phthalo Green Blue Shade
  • Really pretty earth red/sienna with Burnt Sienna. Sort of between Transparent Red Oxide and Quin Burnt Sienna, but non-granulating. Really interesting.

Comparison to Other Colors

The most obvious comparison are to its name twins who I always mix up, Pyrrol Scarlet (more orangey, more opaque), and Pyrrol Crimson (less orangey, darker, more transparent).

From left: Pyrrol Scarlet, Pyrrol Red, Pyrrol Crimson

Pyrrol Red is much more orange-biased than, say, Alizarin Crimson or Carmine, and because of that it makes distinctly different mixes (turn blues and greens into browns and grays, instead of purples and blues).

Compared to DS Quinacridone Coral (aka Quinacridone Red in most brands), Pyrrol Red is more a straight-ahead red; it dilutes to “light red” rather than coral-pink.

Comparison to Other Brands

Da Vinci

Da Vinci – Da Vinci Red (PR254)

I liked the strength and boldness of this version, but found it got shiny in masstone.

Various Brands

I painted out various brands from a dot card from Oto Kano’s Patreon. Here’s Oto Kano’s comparison of these colors.

Pyrrol Red dot card paintout

My quick impressions:

  • Daniel Smith: The dullest of these!
  • Holbein: Not as strong, but maybe this ok since it keeps it from going too dull
  • Sennelier: A bit on the dull side
  • Schmincke (color name: Scarlet Red): My favorite of these; bold, bright, matte
  • Winsor Red: Slightly on the dull side
  • Qor: Weird speckles
  • Mission Gold: Very shiny in masstone
  • Da Vinci Red: Shiny in masstone

What Others Say

Pyrrol red is semi-opaque, fire engine kind of red. I use it as the warm red on my palette, although it is considered a pretty middle-of-the-road kind of pigment. It doesn’t really lean too much one way or the other, and there certainly are oranger tones on the market. The reason I use it as my warm red is because I don’t use oranges very often, and I find it’s easy to just mix some yellow in with this color to get any type of orange that I might need, and it provides a little bit more mixing ability into the other tones that I would use a red for… I have found in my uses that there is quite a drying shift, especially in tints.

Denise Soden, Color Spotlight: Pyrrol Red

Pyrrol is a perfect, middle-of-the-road neutral red whose bluish tones are only evident when situated next to a warm color. It’s semi-transparent to semi-opaque but isn’t prone to muddiness, dilutes beautifully, and has a moderate flow rate with very little drying shift.

Tonya @ Scratchmade Journal, Watercolor Comparison: The Color Red

A widely offered middle red that can is close to a scarlet hue… It is a plausible substitute for cadmium red paints in masstone, but lacks cadmium’s radiance in tints; it is a good mixing partner with synthetic organic yellows, but these mixtures seem less attractive to me than the equivalent mixture of cadmium red and yellow. Substitutions. A very good color match, with better transparency, can be mixed from quinacridone rose (PV19) and naphthol scarlet (PR188).

Bruce MacEvoy,


I really enjoyed the process of swatching this one out. It has nice handling, grades gorgeously, and mixes nicely too: not overwhelming mixes, but also standing its own with bold colors. I just love the brightness and the reddiness of this, which makes me want to make room for it on my palette even though it’s like my fourth or fifth favorite red.

Favorite version: I liked all the versions I tried, but in the dot cards, Schmincke’s Scarlet Red stood out to me as a favorite.

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