Color Spotlight: Perylene Violet (PV29)

Daniel Smith – Perylene Violet

A dark, muting color somewhere between maroon and purple. Botanical artists use it for deep floral shadows. With its leafy counterpart, Perylene Green, it mixes up a dark black.

Experiment Results

Hue: Deep muted wine color.

Gradient: Slightly streaky gradient. Not granulating exactly, but there is a texture in midtone; white flecks from the paper show up.

Opacity: Transparent (but dark)

Glazing: Glazes to a deep brown-maroon.

Drying Shift: I noticed a very strong drying shift. The color looked both darker and brighter when wet.

Comparison to Other Brands

Winsor & Newton – Perylene Violet

Winsor & Newton – Perylene Violet

The exact same pigment number and color name is available from Winsor & Newton, and the color looks and behaves very similarly. I found that I didn’t get quite as much midtone from this color – it graded pretty quickly from mass to a light tone. It also seemed to have slightly less texture, though both are considered nongranulating. WN’s appeared slightly more bluey-purple (compared to DS’s slightly more muted/brownish shade), but I thought the mixes were brighter with DS’s.

WN Perylene Violet (left) vs DS Perylene Violet (right)

Comparison to Other Colors

Carbazole/Dioxazine Violet (PV23)

Warmer, more muted. A maroon rather than a bluey purple. Both get very dark.

Perylene Violet vs. Carbazole Violet

Perylene Maroon (PR179)

Cooler and purpler; less red. Perylene Maroon borders on an earth orange.

DS Perylene Violet vs. DV Perylene Maroon

Caput Mortuum Violet or Indian Red (PR101)

The opaque PR101 variants are more granulating and lower-chroma but exist in a similar hue space. Perylene Violet is to Caput Mortuum Violet as Perylene Maroon is to Indian Red.

Top row: WN Caput Mortuum Violet (PR101), WN Perylene Violet (PV29). Bottom row: DV Indian Red (PR101), DS Perylene Maroon (PR179).

Naphthamide Maroon (PR171)

Definitely the most similar mix. Napthamide Maroon is just slightly warmer. They mix similarly.

DS Naphthamide Maroon (PR171) vs DS Perylene Maroon (PV29) on Canson XL

Color Mixes

Rich Green Gold (PY129)

DS Rich Green Gold (PY129) + DS Perylene Violet (PV29)

Non-favorite muted violets/golds.

Imidazolone Yellow (PY154)

Da Vinci Yellow (PY154) + DS Perylene Violet (PV29) on Stilman & Birn Alpha


Hansa Yellow Deep (PY65)

DS Perylene Violet (PV29) + WN Hansa Yellow Deep (PY65) on Canson XL

Benzimida Orange (PO62)

DS Perylene Violet (PV29) + DV Benzimida Orange (PO62) on Canson XL

Transparent Pyrrol Orange (PO71)

DS Perylene Violet (PV29) + DS Transparent Pyrrol Orange (PO71) on Stilman & Birn Beta

Dark orange-browns.

Deep Scarlet

DS Perylene Violet (PV29) + DS Deep Scarlet (PR175) on Stilman & Birn Alpha

Brownish crimson or muted dusty pinks. I don’t love these mixes.

Purple Magenta

Holbein Quin Magenta (PR122) + DS Perylene Violet (PV29) on Stilman & Birn Alpha

Perylene Violet is a contender for a “dark magenta”. It looks much darker than a primary magenta, but in the same color family. With that said, it doesn’t tend to play nicely with Quin Magenta wet-in-wet, preferring to push this pigment away, and dries much more muted than it looks wet.

Pink trees painted with Quin Magenta. On the left, I painted shadows with DS Bordeaux (PV32), and on the right, I painted shadows with DS Perylene Violet (PV29). The trunks are Letter Sparrow Violet Umber.

Indanthrone Blue

DS Indanthrone Blue (PB60) + DS Perylene Violet (PV29) on Stilman & Birn Alpha

The mixes with blues are much more satisfactory than the mixes with warm colors. Moody dark violet blues.

Phthalo Blue Red Shade (PB15:1)

WN Perylene Violet (PV29) + HO Phthalo Blue Red Shade (PB15:1) on Canson XL

Makes very dark indigo/indanthrone blue hues.

Phthalo Blue Green Shade (PB15:3)

WN Perylene Violet (PV29) + HO Phthalo Blue Green Shade (PB15:3) on Canson XL

Very similar to PBRS mixes.

Phthalo Turquoise

DS Perylene Violet (PV29) + Da Vinci Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) on Stilman & Birn Beta

Dark, muted gray-purples. Mutes blue.


DS Perylene Violet (PV29) + DV Cerulean Genuine (PB36) on Wonder Forest paper

More blue-purple-grays, but these have interesting flecks of bright blue granulation. I like these mixes for cloudy skies. Denise Soden demonstrates this pairing in her video on Perylene Violet: “This combination creates purplish grays, dusty blues, and muted sky pairings. I think this would be a really stunning pairing for soft landscapes.”

Phthalo Green

DS Perylene Violet (PV29) + DV Phthalo Green (PG7) on Stilman & Birn Alpha

Striking black with Phthalo Green.

Perylene Green (PBk31)

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

A mix that makes a super-dark, velvety black.

What Others Say

The masstone color is a very dark and intense scarlet, which shifts toward a dull red violet in tints. The paint makes an interesting shadow accent color for portraits and figures, but used lightly: it has a purplish brown color when dried that looks dull in heavy concentrations. It has a significant drying shift, losing lightness and chroma by about 30%. For most painting situations I would prefer the more versatile perylene maroon (PR179). Both paints mix very dark, warm near neutrals with perylene black (PBk31).

Bruce MacEvoy,

Perylene Violet is the most versatile paint in my palette. I do not understand how watercolourists can live without it. It might even be difficult to find one of my paintings in which I haven’t used it. I can hear the chuckles of those amongst you who have been to my classes and who know that I use it in almost everything.

Sandrine Maugy

While its cousin Perylene Maroon excels at mixing flesh tones and muted secondaries, I think Perylene Violet really shines at mixing dark, moody greens, purples, blues, and teals… [Roman Szmal’s] is a beautifully saturated version, and much more vibrant than the other [Daniel Smith and Schmincke] versions of this pigment.

Denise Soden, “Color Spotlight: Perylene Maroon”

My Review

I’m torn on this color. I like the idea of a violet neutral, but I find the mixes generally dingy. I feel like I usually really enjoy the color when I first paint it out, but the drying shift is killer: the paint always dries much lighter and duller than it goes down.

I do like the way it makes deep, luscious shadows for red objects like flowers and cherries.

Cherries with Perylene Violet shadows. October 13, 2022.

I feel like I do see palette opportunities for a dark wine color:

  • Deepener for all reds, from scarlet to rose to magenta. Alizarin Crimson and similar don’t tend to get dark enough to provide a real contrast.
  • Botanical specialist paint for red and wine-colored flowers. Some flowers, like the day lily pictured below, just contain that color!
  • Late winter/early spring seasonal colors: dried flower and branch husks, the shadows of deep piles of dry leaves, the deep purple-crimson of skunk cabbage flowers, the reddish branches of dogwood shrubs. It may be a dull color, but so is the winter landscape most of the time.
  • Summer high-contrast shadow color, especially for red objects or to mix chromatic darks.
Deep red day lily. July 24, 2023.

On my palette? No.

Favorite version: DS, I guess, of the ones I’ve painted out. Denise Soden successfully demonstrated that Roman Szmal’s is nicer, but I usually prefer tube paint.

Favorite alternative: Personally, I prefer the slight increase in warmth that comes with the very similar Naphthamide Maroon (PR171).

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