Da Vinci Dot Cards Part 5: Earth Tones & Neutrals

Da Vinci Dot Cards – all Earth Tones

We’ve reached the final stretch! I’ll finish up the DV dot cards today by exploring the earth tones (DV has some of my favorites!) and neutrals like black, white, and gray. I’ll also answer the question: which Da Vinci colors are not in this dot card set?

Let’s start with the earth tones, which, unusually, I’m very excited about. First up: earth yellows.

Earth Yellows

DV Earth Yellows

Top Row:

  1. Nickel Azo Yellow (PY150)
  2. Naples Yellow (PY35, PY43)
  3. Naples Yellow Deep (PBr24)
  4. Yellow Ochre (PY43)
  5. Gold Ochre (PY42, PY83)

Bottom Row:

  1. Raw Sienna (PBr7)
  2. Raw Sienna Deep (PY42)
  3. Raw Umber Natural (PBr7)
  4. Raw Umber (PBr7)
  5. Burnt Umber (PBr7)

Nickel Azo Yellow

This is often put with the yellows but I see why they put it with the earth tones; it acquires an earthy appearance in masstone. I like the hue of this NAY but when I painted it out from a tube on another occasion, I found it stinky. I might have just gotten a bad batch, but I thought I detected a slight odor when I rewet the dot, so I’m going to keep on giving this one a miss.

Naples Yellow

The color Naples Yellow is traditionally made from PBr24. It’s an opaque ochre pigment that I am not usually into because it can be chalky-looking. DV’s Naples Yellow Deep uses this pigment and it does look kind of chalky to me. The Naples Yellow is a hue made from Cadmium Yellow and Yellow Ochre, and it looks pretty nice, although it could be DIY’d.

Yellow Ochre

This is a nice yellow ochre made from natural yellow ochre pigment (PY43). DV obviously considers it a flagship color because it’s in a lot of mixes. This is not my favorite pigment of all time because I find the color a bit dull and I don’t usually like the opacity, but in terms of preferred brands, DV is definitely ahead of the competition. I think this is a good buy.

Gold Ochre is a mix of the synthetic version of the yellow ochre pigment (PY42) plus Indian Yellow (PY83). This is also a nice color if you like a brighter yellow ochre, which I do! I’m really fascinated by this color, actually – it’s got the great earth-yellow qualities of being textured in masstone and transparent in dilute; it looks a lot like Quin Gold hues, only maybe even nicer???

Raw Sienna

I have recently fallen in love with DV’s Raw Sienna.

Over the past year I’ve gone hard on DS Monte Amiata Natural Sienna (MANS), a yellower, more granulating version of PBr7 that taught me what a useful pigment it is. It is transparent, so it mixes more nicely than Yellow Ochre; it resists going green, so it’s lovely in dilute in sunset skies; it makes wonderfully muted dry grass colors for winter; and it’s a great base color for sandstone and beaches.

PBr7 sienna comparison: Da Vinci Raw Sienna, Daniel Smith Monte Amiata Natural Sienna

I was nervous to switch to Raw Sienna because its more orangey color means it mixes differently, but I found it to actually be better in most cases! It’s a bit harder to make work in skies, hue-wise, but I like how smooth it is. It’s better for dry grass, even though dry grass is less orange, because adding a bit of blue mutes it to a nicer grayish tone than I can achieve with MANS (at least with the mixers on my palette). It’s better for sandstone, etc., because it matches the orange tones of the desert more. It’s great in light values for buff-colored animals. It’s just got a ton of use cases and is super-flexible as a mixer.

I am less interested in Raw Sienna Deep, even though it matches the hue of MANS better, ,because it is made from a yellow ochre pigment so it won’t have that PBr7 magic.

Raw & Burnt Umber

Raw Umber Natural is the traditional color that “Raw Umber” used to refer to, before we came to associate it with a darker brown in the modern era. This is a color I considered for dry grass before I learned how to mix with Raw Sienna. It’s close, but a bit too brown and hard to tilt in the right direction. I also found it difficult to paint out because it’s low-tinting.

Raw Umber is the dark, cool color that most companies refer to now with the term ‘Raw Umber.’ This is a nice version of it. I am not a huge fan of this color but this is my favorite one.

Similarly, Burnt Umber isn’t a color I use a lot, but DV is my favorite version that I’ve tried. It is not too yellowy or orangy; it has a nice, middle-brown, chocolatey color with pleasant granulation.

If you’re wondering how I mix browns without Raw or Burnt Umber: it’s through the magic of violet-blue plus earth orange! Which is a nice segue to our next page of earth tones.

Earth Oranges & Reds

Da Vinci Dot Card – Earth Oranges & Reds

Top Row:

  1. Burnt Sienna (PBr7)
  2. Burnt Sienna Deep (PR101)
  3. Terra Cotta (PR102)
  4. Venetian Red (PR101)
  5. Indian Red (PR101)

Bottom Row:

  1. Brown Madder (PV19, PR101)
  2. Violet Iron Oxide (PR101)
  3. Sepia (PBk6, PBr7)

Most of these are variations of PR101, that multi-faceted iron oxide pigment.

Burnt Siennas

PBr7 Burnt Sienna is traditional but I find it a bit dull. I prefer the more orangey tones of the Burnt Sienna Deep, a transparent PR101 which is the equivalent of DS Transparent Red Oxide (PR101). As I’ve often mentioned before, TRO is one of my favorite colors; I just find it super-useful as a mixer for making a range of browns and grays (with blue).

Earth orange comparison: DV Burnt Sienna Deep (PR101); DS Transparent Red Oxide (PR101); DS Quinacridone Burnt Orange (PO48)

DV Burnt Sienna Deep is quite orangey, somewhere between DS Transparent Red Oxide and DS Quin Burnt Orange in orangeness. It’s less granulating than both, but still gently granulating in masstone. I find DV’s BSD to be a great version of a great color!

Indian Red

DV lists this as transparent both on the dot card and the website, but it’s clearly opaque, like all Indian Reds. (It is transparent in dilute but if that were the criteria, nothing would be opaque.)

I avoided this color for a long time because of its opacity, but since I’ve started using DS’s I’ve kind of liked it. The granulation is interesting, it’s a nice pink in dilute, and it has some interesting use cases.


Terra Cotta, sometimes called Light Red, is a more reddish variation on a traditional Burnt Sienna. Not one of my favorites but some people like it, and this version seems fine.

Venetian Red is sort of a halfway house between BSD and Indian Red.

The name Brown Madder typically refers to PR206, a now-discontinued pigment. This hue is a mix of what looks like Indian or Venetian Red and a PV19 rose (or maybe Alizarin Crimson Quinacridone). PR206 is usually smooth (not granulating), so IMO this is not really a good replacement for that pigment. It looks more like Venetian Red. If I were DV I would have either discontinued Brown Madder or replaced it with a smooth brownish-red hue, maybe something involving PBr25.

Violet Iron Oxide is a much purpler, more granulating paint with the same PR101 pigment. It’s an interesting variation on Indian Red with a similar hue to Perylene Violet.

Sepia is a mix of what looks like Raw Umber and black.


The final category of paints is ‘neutrals’ – flavors of white and black.

Da Vinci Dot Card – Neutrals

Neutral Tint

I briefly covered Neutral Tint back in the blues section; it’s a mix of Lamp Black, Phthalo Blue, and a PV19 rose or red.

Dark Blue Comparison with Indigo, Payne’s Gray, Neutral Tint

It is gently granulating from the Lamp Black. The idea is for a dark gray/black that is neither warm nor cool. My personal preference is for the smoother Spinel Black, Pbk26 (which I use in the form of MaimeriBlu’s Neutral Tint), but this is a fine mixed neutral tint if you want a granulating one.


There are two black single-pigment paints: Ivory Black (PBk9 – I wrote PBk6 but this is a mistake) and Lamp Black (PBk6). Both are granulating. Ivory Black is warmer (browner) and harder to work into a flat black masstone. Lamp Black is also browner than neutral, but closer to a pure black, and it gets darker.

Davy’s Gray

A mix of black, white, and phthalo green, this is a greenish opaque gray that I have not much use for. If I were going to choose a Davy’s Gray, I think I would go for Winsor & Newton’s, which includes the traditional Slate Gray pigment (PBk19) as well as granulating Chromium Oxide Green (PG17) to form a more interesting, textured middle gray.


I don’t have much use for white watercolor pigments. I typically use gouache, which is more opaque, so it can be used for things like stars. White watercolor can really only be used to mix certain types of opaque pastels – which I sometimes want to do, but gouache works for that too.

It’s hard to tell on ivory paper, but the Chinese White was pretty streaky. Opaque Titanium White would be my pick if I had to choose one.

Titan Buff is a new addition, DV’s answer to DS Buff Titanium. This is a warmer, granulating color that is also listed as PW6. It looks like a mix of Titanium White and a PBr7 (e.g. Raw Sienna). Many artists like this color for sandstone, buff bird feathers, etc. but I think this color can look chalky and mixes horribly, and I prefer diluted Raw Sienna for all those use cases. At any rate, if you do like Buff Titanium, I see no reason not to choose the DV version instead; DV’s version seems fine, I just don’t like the color.

Shopping List

DV is already my brand of choice for earth tones! There are the ones I have:

  • Raw Sienna (key!)
  • Burnt Sienna Deep (key!)
  • Burnt Umber
  • Raw Umber
  • Indian Red
  • Violet Iron Oxide

If I were going to add another, Gold Ochre is tempting; I just like the color. It is a mix, so I could get the components – it should be mixable from a PY42 (Yellow Ochre or Raw Sienna Deep) + a warm yellow – but I just really like the balance they’ve struck here, and I think it’s a potential swap-in for a Quin Gold hue.

I probably won’t add anything from the neutrals page.

What’s missing?

As I mentioned in part 1, the dot cards have 110 colors; Da Vinci describes their catalogue at present as having “120+” colors. So what’s missing?

New Colors: Colors that came out after the dot card was released. These may be added to future dot cards:

  • Stormy Blue (PB60/PR101) – This is a great idea, Indanthrone Blue + Burnt Sienna Deep is my preferred way to mix dark gray. I don’t need it, but I heartily endorse this mix.
  • Denise’s Gray (PB36/PR101) – Same basic idea, but a lighter, color-separating version with Cerulean instead of Indanthrone Blue.

Discontinued Pigments: These colors are listed as “Out of Stock” on the website and were not in my dot card.

  • Quinacridone Burnt Orange (PO48). Per the website: “This product is currently out of stock due to a worldwide discontinuation of PO48. Da Vinci Paints is currently reformulating this color and will have it available again soon.”
  • Quinacridone Gold (PY150/PR206). Per the website: “This product is currently out of stock due to a worldwide discontinuation of PR206. Da Vinci Paints is currently reformulating this color and will have it available again soon.”

It seems that DV plans to have new hues of these available eventually, although I think personally Burnt Sienna Deep works as a substitute for both (alone for QBO or with PY150 for Quin Gold).

Iridescent Colors: DV offers several iridescent colors which are mixes of pigment + mica platelets.

  • Iridescent Hansa Yellow (PY74 + mica)
  • Iridescent Naphthol Red (PR170 + mica)
  • Iridescent Phthalo Blue (PR170 + mica)
  • Iridescent Phthalo Green (PG7 + mica)
  • Iridescent Raw Sienna (PBr7 + mica)
  • Iridescent Burnt Sienna (PBr7 + mica)

I don’t like iridescent colors, so I’m not mad about these being omitted. I didn’t even swatch out the ones on the Daniel Smith dot card.

This brings us up to 120 colors, so what’s the +?

DV may be leaving itself room to add additional colors, or they may be unsure whether to count the “Paul Jackson Signature Colors,” a series of colors available in 15ml tubes that appear to be the same (or basically the same) formula as existing colors but with different names (Hansa Yellow Deep is Marigold, Opus is Rockstar Pink, etc.) The only one that appears to be different from the main line is Jackson Blue, a mix of Cobalt Blue and Da Vinci Violet.


I hope you enjoyed my tour of (most of) the Da Vinci line! I was really glad they came out with a dot card – I just wish it had been a bit earlier before I had already collected so much of their line, but I think I may have ended up buying the same things anyway. DV is one of my favorite brands, and I’m very happy with the majority of the paints I’ve gotten from them. It helped my FOMO to learn what I’m missing!

1 thought on “Da Vinci Dot Cards Part 5: Earth Tones & Neutrals”

  1. Slight correct, both Denise’s Gray and Stormy Blue use Indian Red as the PR101, not Burnt Sienna Deep. Denise Soden, creator of the colors, initially came up withe the gray mix by mixing M Graham’s smoother versions of Cerulean and Terra Rosa, which is their Indian Red.


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