What’s the difference between Transparent Red Oxide (PR101) and Quinacridone Burnt Orange (PO48)?

Transparent Red Oxide and Quinacridone Burnt Orange are both transparent, highly granulating earth oranges — alternatives to Burnt Sienna. Both can be mixed with Nickel Azo Yellow (PY150) to create a Quinacridone Gold hue. So what’s the difference between them, and why might you choose one over the other?

Top: Daniel Smith Quinacridone Burnt Orange (PO48).
Bottom: Daniel Smith Transparent Red Oxide (PR101).

It’s the battle of the granulating earth oranges!

Overall Comparison

DS Quin Burnt Orange (PO48) on the left, DS Transparent Red Oxide (PR101) on the right.

The hues are similar. Quin Burnt Orange is oranger, with Transparent Red Oxide being comparatively slightly more reddish and brownish, though I would still classify it as an “earth orange.” Quin Burnt Orange doesn’t get as dark in masstone. Both dilute to a very pale brown, with QBO’s reading a bit more like a light bronze and TRO’s looking more like a peachy beige. Both have large granulation.

Here’s a comparison of PO48 against several PR101 Transparent Red Oxide variants from different brands.

DS Quin Burnt Orange (PO48), WN Burnt Sienna (PR101), DV Burnt Sienna Deep (PR101), DS Transparent Red Oxide (PR101)

From left:

  • DS Quin Burnt Orange (PO48). My notes: “Granulating, streaky, weak, high chroma for an earth.”
  • WN Burnt Sienna (PR101). My note: “weak”
  • DV Burnt Sienna Deep (PR110). My note: “smooth grading”
  • DS Transparent Red Oxide (PR101). My note: “Granulating; sometimes streaky”

Color Mix Comparisons

Nickel Azo Yellow (PY150)

Both make a Quin Gold hue. The Nickel Azo Yellow brings out the brightest, fieriest elements in QBO. The TRO mix has a more muted and brownish quality.

Quin Coral (PR209)

The orangey QBO brings out the fieriness of Quin Coral, while TRO tamps it down to a deeper scarlet.

Carbazole Violet (PV23)

DS Carbazole Violet (PV23) – typically called Dioxazine Violet in other brands – mixes a range of browns with both colors. I’d say QBO is the superior mixing partner with PV23, making these lovely rich warm chocolate browns. There is a nicely balanced Burnt Umber hue to be made with TRO, but the more violet mixes read oddly to me.

The TRO granulated a lot more for me in midtone in this particular mix.

Indanthrone Blue (PB60)

The QBO mixes make bright browns and slate blues, going slightly greenish in the middle mixes. The TRO mixes get darker and make more neutral neutrals, including a granulating black.

TRO + IB is one of my most useful mixes for all sorts of landscape and urban browns/grays, but IB is not as useful of a partner for QBO; the combos just don’t get dark enough.

You can see in these gradients (on the same paper) the difference in quality between QBO granulations and TRO granulation. Both are highly granulating but I find that QBO is more likely to make dreamy soft flecks while TRO makes crackly patterns.

Cobalt Blue (PB28)

Both mixes make browns and grays. Mixes with QBO stay lighter-valued, while those with TRO can get very dark, near-black. I find some of the QBO mixes kind of ugly, while I love the rich warmth of all the TRO mixes.

In this case, the QBO is on the Stilman & Birn alpha paper, and so appeared much more granulating.

Phthalo Blue Red Shade (PB15)

I think this mix most showcases the differences in mixing between these two hues. QBO mixes with Phthalo Blue RS skew greener, making them almost turquoise, while the TRO mixes stay firmer in the brown-to-gray territory.

Phthalo Turquoise (PB16)

These mixes are also quite different. QBO makes the turquoise warmer and more muted, resulting in these lovely sea-green colors (or light khaki brown on the more QBO side). TRO makes cool deep browns (Raw Umber hues) and deep, dark, blackish blue-greens. I like both of these for different use cases!

Phthalo Green (PG7)

Both paints mix with Phthalo Green to create gently muted, brownish, granulating colors. At least on these paper samples, I found that QBO mixed with Phthalo Green more completely, while TRO tended to float above it.

What if we add Burnt Sienna Deep to the mix??

Da Vinci’s Burnt Sienna Deep is another PR101.

Top: DS Transparent Red Oxide (PR101). Middle: DS Quinacridone Burnt Orange (PO48). Bottom: Da Vinci Burnt Sienna Deep (PR101).

In terms of hue, BSD sits between Transparent Red Oxide and Quinacridone Burnt Orange: less red/more orange than TRO, but slightly less orange than QBO (but extremely similar). It doesn’t get quite as dark as TRO. It is the least granulating of the three; Da Vinci Paints describes it as having “some granulation” which I’d agree with. Just some. Not the wild amounts of the other two.

Nickel Azo Yellow: QBO vs BSD

BSD is not quite as nice as QBO, but I do think it’s a bit better than TRO, probably because the oranger hue is closer to yellow than the redder hue to TRO, so less chroma is lost in the mix.

Indanthrone Blue: QBO vs BSD

BSD gives darker, more neutral values, more similar to TRO than QBO.

Cobalt Blue: QBO vs BSD

You can see the BSD granulating in the middle here. In terms of hue, these mixes are similar to TRO, but in terms of value, they are closer to QBO.

Phthalo Turquoise: QBO vs BSD

This is an interesting case where the BSD seems to strike a middle road between the ways that QBO and TRO mix. To be onest, I found these kind of boring in comparison; it’s neither the ethereal sea blue of QBO nor the dark forest greens of TRO.


These colors are similar enough that I feel you probably only need one of them on your palette. Here are some considerations:

  • Hue: All are “earth oranges” roughly in the hue space of Burnt Sienna. From most orange to most red: QBO, BSD, TRO.
  • Chroma: All are mid-to-low chroma (earth) colors, but on the brighter end. From highest to lowest chroma: QBO, BSD, TRO.
  • Tinting Strength: The PR101 variants (TRO and BSD) have more tinting strength. With PO48 (QBO), I felt like I was fighting it to get a dark masstone, glopping the paint on instead of letting it be the way it wanted; it was also difficult to get a juicy tone without skipping straight to overdiluted.
  • Value Range: TRO gets the darkest and makes the darkest mixes. With blues, it can make dark browns/blacks. QBO has the least value range and never gets very dark.
  • Granulation: QBO and TRO are both highly granulating in different ways; QBO makes dreamy soft flecks, while TRO makes crackly patterns. BSD is lightly granulating.
  • Glazing: All three are great for glazing, being transparent and staining. I feel that QBO has a magical quality as an overglaze where it just makes an entire painting look warm and autumnal.

When I mixed them with various colors, I found that colors divided between good mixing partners for PO48 (QBO) vs good mixing partners for the PR101s (TRO + BSD).

QBO mixes better with:

  • Nickel Azo Yellow – a bright & lovely Quin Gold hue
  • Dioxazine/Carbazole Violet – rich chocolate browns
  • Phthalo Green – sap greens

Meanwhile, TRO or BSD mix better with:

  • Cobalt Blue – mid-value grays and Burnt Umber browns
  • Indanthrone Blue – a range of darks and neutrals that can take the place of an entire shelf of other earth colors

Some colors mix well with both, but do different things:

  • Quin Coral (PR209) makes a fiery orange with QBO or a deep scarlet with TRO.
  • Phthalo Blue Red Shade (PB15) makes a muted turquoise with QBO, or a neutral brown with TRO.
  • Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) makes interesting mid-value sea greens with QBO, or deep dark forest greens with TRO.

What’s on my palette? DS Transparent Red Oxide is on my everyday/main palette. It’s a good flexible earth tone that can do it all! I also like the crackly way it granulates, which reminds me of tree bark – a good match for the gray-brown colors that I mix with warm blues. I also far prefer its handling characteristics to PO48; it’s strong and has a high value range.

BSD is similar enough to TRO that I’d say it’s basically a backup of that color, but I slightly prefer the DS version because of the greater value range and more interesting granulation.

QBO is unique, and I find it useful for specific situations. It’s lovely in an Autumn palette because of the magical orange glow it lends to any situation. I also like it in the Pacific Northwest palette, because it mixes well with the other colors; while TRO + IB is perfect for the grayish Northeast trees, QBO + Carbazole Violet is a better match for the browns and tree barks that I saw on the West Coast.