Color Spotlight: Scarlet Lake (PR188)

Winsor & Newton – Scarlet Lake (PR188)

Often called Vermilion (although it is not the traditional/historical Vermilion pigment), PR188 is a smooth, transparent, brilliant red-orange shade.

Experiment Results

Hue: Bright orange-red to pale coral/light red. A happy “strawberry soda” color.

Gradient: Very smooth.

Opacity: 100% transparent.

Glazing: Bold orange-red glaze that looks similar to Pyrrol Scarlet.

Color Mixes: Bold, vibrant oranges and reds! Mixes browns rather than purples with blue (because it is so orange-toned).

Comparison to Other Colors

Pyrrol Scarlet

Similar hue to the semi-opaque red-orange Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255), but transparent.

WN Scarlet Lake (PR188) vs DS Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255)

A very, very similar hue to Pyrrol Scarlet, straight down the line. Scarlet Lake is maybe a touch more coral in dilute, compared to the peachy tones of Pyrrol Scarlet.

In handling they are very different, however. The main difference is in the opacity. PR188 is totally transparent, while Pyrrol Scarlet is semi-opaque. I found that the opaque quality of PS could, at times, make it “pop” more on the page, especially when used in foregrounds or for small details. The opacity also means that PS lends itself better to subjects that should have heft and gravity, such as rocks. Scarlet Lake has a light, effervescent quality. It’s better in sunset skies.

Quinacridone Coral

WN Scarlet Lake (PR188) vs DS Quinacridone Coral (PR209)

More orange-toned than Quin Coral, less pinky. Both are totally transparent, and suitable for sunset skies. Quin Coral makes better purples.

Comparison to Other Brands

Schmincke Horadam – Vermilion Light

Schmincke Horadam – Vermilion Light

I struggled to get a deep masstone from this one, maybe because I at the time I was testing Schmincke I tended to overdilute everything.

Commercial Mixes Based on This Pigment

Da Vinci – Vermilion Hue

Vermilion Hue by Da Vinci builds on the PR188 red-orange shade by adding an orange, PO62 Perinone Orange, to create a color that falls more in between red and orange.

Da Vinci – Vermilion Hue

I found this color to resemble PO73 Pyrrol Orange, but a bit duller/more muted. Because of the opaque Perinone Orange, it’s semi-opaque (like Pyrrol Orange), so it doesn’t retain PR188’s transparency. Overall I would probably go for Pyrrol Orange over this, since I tend to prefer to put brighter colors on the palette (they can be muted in practice – whereas muted colors cannot be brightened).

What Others Say

It’s a beautiful, deep scarlet verging on a light red, the same hue as most cadmium scarlet watercolors (PR188 is an excellent cadmium alternative if price or toxicity is a concern)…

CAUTION. This is a lovely scarlet pigment that is more reliable than other naphthol reds. However, there are many saturated scarlet pigments available with better lightfastness, such as pyrazoloquinazolone scarlet (PR251) or pyrrole scarlet (PR255). I like the more lightfast cadmium scarlet (PR108) or pyrrole orange (PO73) for this hue, as I like to use the diluted color as a healthy pink portrait tone, and the naphthol tints are just too prone to fade. See also the section on naphthol pigments.

Bruce MacEvoy,

I generally AVOID PR242 (and to a lesser extent PR188) due to decreased lightfastness in tints.

Kim Crick, Top Lightfast Watercolor Pigments

PR188 is a Naphthol pigment, but it has a better ASTM lightfast rating than other Napthols. It’s a beautifully warm red that’s semi-transparent and mixes well. When I first tried it, I didn’t like how PR188 tended to blossom uncontrollably… Despite its quirky nature, the beauty of this color eventually won me over and I highly recommend it for a transparent, warm red.

Tonya @ Scratchmade Journal, Red Watercolor Comparison

My Overall Review

I didn’t give this much consideration when I first encountered it because it’s a palette competitor for Quin Coral, which I love. However, I am now finding that I could use more in the red-orange space and that Quin Coral behaves more like a pink than a warm red in many cases, so I’m reconsidering! Lightfastness is not a huge concern for me, and anyway this one isn’t fugitive, just a “good/very good” instead of an excellent.

Leave a Comment