Color Spotlight: Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255)

Daniel Smith Pyrrol Scarlet: gradient, opacity & glazing tests, color mixes

The warm (orange-toned) red in the Daniel Smith Essentials kit, Pyrrol Scarlet has been a part of my personal palette for a long time! It is a semi-opaque and extremely vibrant flame red, straddling the line between a red and a red-orange.

Experiment Results

Gradient: I found it difficult to get a wash that didn’t show some brush strokes; water control can be a bit of a struggle with this one. Still, the color range is impressive, from an extremely bright and bold fire engine red to a pale, peachy coral.

Opacity: This one is pretty opaque; I can clearly see a thin layer of red overlaying the black line.

Glazing: Like many opaque colors, the glaze color isn’t startlingly different from the mass color. It’s a bit darker fiery red.

Comparison to Other Brands

MaimeriBlu – Pyrrole Red

MaimeriBlu – Pyrrole Red (PR255)

One of the better MaimeriBlu colors I’ve tried, but still not immune from the usual MMB problems (in my view) of being too dispersive and a bit weak. Still, a good option for a PR255. One of the more transparent ones I’ve tried. (This photo makes it look like a middle red, but in real life it is more on the scarlet side, similar to the other colors on this page.)

Schmincke – Vermilion

Schmincke – Vermilion (PR255)

Same pigment, more transparent and much weaker. I always struggle with Schmincke colors.

Sennelier – Rose Dore Madder Lake

PR255 comparison: DS Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255) vs Sennelier Rose Dore Madder Lake

The Sennelier version of PR255, Rose Dore Madder Lake, has a word salad name, but it’s a nice paint! It grades nicely and is highly pigmented. This one doesn’t disperse as wildly as the DS version. It’s slightly streaky.

More Comparisons

This page from my color sketchbook shows a bunch of scarlets (and Perylene Violets for some reason).

Perylene Violet and misc Scarlet comparison.
  • The weird small one in the middle is MaimeriBlu Pyrrole Red (PR255). Like almost all MMB tubes I have ever tried, this was so old that it was split and weird.
  • The first scarlet (after the Perylene Violets) is Sennelier Rose Dore (PR255), a more muted version than some of the others. It is also transparent.
  • Last in the top row is Daler Rowney Arist Vermilion Hue (PR255). Grades nicely. I wrote “nice handling.”
  • Third of the bottom row is SH Vermilion (PR255). I wrote “low tint, cauliflowering.”
  • Right after that is DS Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255). One of the more opaque as well one of the brightest.

Color Mixes

Hansa Yellow Deep (PY65)

DS Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255) + DS Hansa Yellow Deep (PY65) on Canson XL

Very bold oranges!

Quin Gold

DS Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255) + DS Quin Gold on Canson XL

Still deep and intense, but earthier and less in-your-face oranges.

DV Benzimida Orange (PO62) + DS Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255) on Canson XL

Vivid oranges. Not quite as bright as those with PY65.

Quin Rose (PV19)

Quin Rose + Pyrrol Scarlet
DV Red Rose Deep (PV19) + DS Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255) on Arches

Bright, bold fire engine reds from this mix of a bold magenta and a bold red-orange.

Bordeaux (PV32)

Bordeaux + Pyrrol Scarlet
DS Bordeaux (PV32) + DS Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255) on Arches

I like the deep crimson this makes, though I prefer single pigment crimsons (e.g. Alizarin Crimson hue or Pyrrol Rubine).

Phthalo Blue Red Shade

HO Phthalo Blue Red Shade (PB15) + DS Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255) on Canson XL

Not my favorite set of grayish purples and maroons; not quite a complementary set. Orange may be better for PBRS.

Phthalo Blue Green Shade (PB15:3)

DS Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255) + WN Winsor Blue Green Shade (PB15:3) on Canson XL

Now this is a complement. Makes a very balanced grey.

Cobalt Turquoise

Cobalt Turquoise + Pyrrol Scarlet
Schmincke Horadam Cobalt Turquoise (PG50) + Daniel Smith Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255) on Wonder Forest paper

Possible to make a balanced, light-colored gray that never gets dark, or muted turquoise (or a pinkish gray, but I’m not sure what that would be for).

Phthalo Green Blue Shade (PG7)

DS Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255) + WN Winsor Green Blue Shade (PG7) on Canson XL

Another slightly off not-quite-complement, muddy but not evenly grey.

My Review of Pyrrol Scarlet

I can see why Daniel Smith uses this as the warm red in its beginner set, because it is a bright, fun orangey-red which paints out bold color easily. A semi-opaque color, it offers some contrast to the typical transparent colors like quin rose and phthalo blue. I happen to prefer more transparent colors, but there is also something handy about an opaque color with a bit of heft to it, especially in bold colors like this one. I’ve found it especially useful for pop color details: flowers, a red coat, or a woodpecker’s crest.

December 24, 2021. Pileated woodpecker forest with Pyrrol Scarlet for the woodpecker’s crest; trees and background in Quin Gold, Transparent Red Oxide, and Indanthrone Blue for muting.

I don’t find it to be an optimal mixer. It is so bold that it overwhelms most mixes, even Phthalo Blue (!). It makes bold oranges with yellow, but doesn’t make purple at all. Instead, with blue, it makes a range of muted (muddy) earthy maroons, browns, grays, and blacks. That might be what you want! The very dark black with Phthalo Blue GS is pretty convenient for night skies.

On my palette: No.

Favorite version: Daniel Smith I guess, though I find it a bit opaque. Sennelier has a nice hue, but I can’t handle the stickiness of their binder. MaimeriBlu is okay, but a bit weak. While I like PR255 in theory (because of the hue and lightfastness), I’ve yet to find a version of it that I truly love.

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