Color Spotlight: Perylene Green (PBk31)

Winsor & Newton – Perylene Green (PBk31)

Technically, Perylene Green isn’t a green pigment, but a black one: “Pigment Black 31”. It has a distinctly greenish tone, however, and is often used as shadows in foliage.

Experiment Results

Hue: Nearly black in masstone, through a dark muted pine green to pale celadon in dilute. Never bright; always muted.

Gradient: I had a bit of trouble getting an even gradient. Easy to bloom.

Opacity: Transparent, though it’s so dark it’s hard to tell.

Granulation: Non-granulating.

Glazing: Glazes to black.

Color Mixes: I’ll put more explorations at the bottom of this post as I make them, but my initial impression is that it’s quite easy to make black with a wide variety of reds; brown with oranges; and muted dark blues and teals with blue. I especially like the dark muted teal with Phthalo Blue Green Shade.

Comparison to Other Colors

Jadeite

WN Perylene Green (PBk31) vs DS Jadeite Genuine

Jadeite Genuine (a Daniel Smith Primatek color) is brighter/less muted, more yellowy, granulating, and has flecks of brown in it.

While Jadeite is more similar to the color I have in my mind of a pine tree, in reality I think that pine trees are actually more likely to appear as a series of lighter sap green highlights and darker green/blue/black shadows.

Comparison to Other Brands

My general finding was that most brands’ Perylene Green was a bit weaker in tinting strength than I would like.

Holbein – Shadow Green

Holbein – Shadow Green (PBk31)

Holbein’s version of Perylene Green is called Shadow Green, and it’s one of the moderately weak versions.

Da Vinci – Perylene Green

Da Vinci – Perylene Green (PBk31)

One of the bolder versions. I made some mistakes at the low end of this gradient.

Color Mixes

Perylene Violet (PV29)

Perylene Green + Perylene Violet
Holbein Shadow Green (PBk31) + Daniel Smith Perylene Violet (PV29) in a Wonder Forest sketchbook

A mix that makes a dark, velvety black.

What Others Say

It is excellent for glazes and in mixes creating dark, moody versions of just about every other color it is mixed with.

Denise Soden, Color Spotlight: Perylene Green

Denise suggests mixing with Phthalo Blue GS for deep teals and Red Brown (PBr25) for a range of non-granulating browns.

…[A]fter I had tried this paint I did not know how I had gotten along without it. In concentrated form the paint produces a very dark near neutral hue, almost indistinguishable from a true black, with a relatively small drying shift; mixed with an unadulterated dioxazine violet, quinacridone violet or perylene violet (PV29) it creates a darker and more stable black than most carbon based paints. (Note that additives used to adulterate these expensive pigments or adjust the vehicle may cause an unexpected whitening of the dried color. If you don’t get a deep black, try another brand of paints.) In tints it creates a dull, light valued sap green or hooker’s green, often ideal for distant landscape foliage. It is very effective for darkening all foliage greens and as a shadow color for botanicals and landscapes, but also (in very dilute glazes) as a shadow tint for portraits and figure paintings; excellent for desaturating and darkening warm paints, and for mixing dull, dark greens with yellow, green or blue paints. 

Bruce MacEvoy

Perylene “green” is not a green but a black pigment with a green hue. Like most black pigments it is obtained by combustion, in this case burning a derivative of perylenetetracarboxylic, i.e. another Perylene. This is a bit of a mouthful and just means that like most blacks, it is made by burning some substance. As a result, the pigment is rather dusty and in my opinion not ideal for watercolour, even less for botanical painting. Shadows painted with Perylene Green will look flat and dirty, which doesn’t help with the difficult task of rendering the bright colours of fresh blooms.

Sandrine Maugy

It is wonderful as a deep green for the shadow areas of foliage and can be very useful as a background colour in a range of studies. You can create this hue by mixing a crimson and phthalo green, but in a large palette I find is invaluable.

Jane Blundell

Conclusion

I go back and forth on this color. I actually don’t find it especially useful for its main use case, foliage shadows. I often find it dries to a lighter value than I would like, making my shadows look weirdly washed out. Bruce MacEvoy says it has little drying shift, so I don’t know, maybe it’s not technically a drying shift, maybe it’s that I overdilute because it’s harder to tell strong from weak mixes when it’s wet; effectively it feels like the same thing. I find a dark blue mixed with a transparent yellow to be a more reliable way to make dark shadow greens.

Perylene Green can be really nice for atmospheric misty green-gray backgrounds.

Misty Forest. Perylene Green is used in the sky and background tree and mountain layers. January 4, 2022.

That said, I think a lot of colors and mixes are good for misty backgrounds, so Perylene Green is hardly unique.

On my palette: No.

Favorite version: WN and DV felt the strongest to me.

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