Color Spotlight: Pyrrol Crimson (PR264)

Daniel Smith Pyrrol Crimson: gradient, opacity and glazing tests, color mixes

Pyrrol Crimson is a robust deep crimson red with a slight blue undertone. It’s recommended by Jane Blundell as a part of her Ultimate Mixing Palette, as a lightfast and single-pigment replacement for the fugitive Alizarin Crimson.

Experiment Results

Gradient: Not a nice gradient – the color seemed to want to gather at the top rather than grading evenly down. This is pretty much a straight ahead red all right. In masstone it’s brick red and in dilute it’s light red (not pink: light red).

Granulating: No.

Opacity: Semi-transparent seems right.

Glazing: A nice dark red glaze.

Five-step color mixes; salt and bloom tests.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about this color so I did some more tests, including experimenting with five-step color mixes – so you can see the different colors made by tilting more toward the red side or more toward the other color.

Salt: Moderately reactive to salt; the salt left a light dusting.

Blooms: Nice, interesting blooms.

Color Mixes

  • Yellow (Winsor Yellow, Hansa Yellow Medium, Quin Gold): Makes golds rather than oranges.
  • Yellow Green (Serpentine): A range of dusty rose, warm beige, brown, and olive. I rather like the middle brown.
  • Green Blue (Phthalo Blue Green Shade): Near middle black/gray, erring on the blue side. Grayish purples. The bluest color is a lovely muted dark blue, and the reddest color is very much like Perylene Violet.
  • Violet Blue (Ultramarine): More dusty purples, slightly less dusty but still very muted.
  • Earth Tones (Transparent Red Oxide): Close enough to TRO that I can’t really see much difference between the shades. A range of brick/earth reds.

The mix of Pyrrol Crimson and Phthalo Blue Green Shade looked even more like Perylene Violet on the palette.

Comparison to Other Colors

Completing the Pyrrol Trilogy (which I always find hard to keep straight), this is much darker and bluer than the bright Pyrrol Red; which in turn is bluer than the very orangey Pyrrol Scarlet.

From left: Pyrrol Scarlet, Pyrrol Red, and Pyrrol Crimson

Pyrrol Crimson is said to be a good replacement for Alizarin Crimson (PR83). Compared to Da Vinci’s Alizarin Crimson Quinacridone hue (made from PV19 like Quin Rose), Pyrrol Crimson seems to me a bit less blue-toned. They look similar in masstone, but if you look at the dilute, the PV19 crimson is much pinker.

Da Vinci Alizarin Crimson Quinacridone (PV19) vs. Daniel Smith Pyrrol Crimson

Another color that is frequently proposed as an Alizarin replacement is Perylene Maroon. Pyrrol Crimson looks similar in dilute, but Perylene Maroon gets darker and browner.

DV Perylene Maroon (PR179) vs DS Pyrrol Scarlet (PR264)

Comparison to Other Brands

Holbein – Pyrrole Rubin

I… really like this! It’s a bit warmer and more cheerful than the DS, while still being a deep crimson (not a bright red). The gradient is nicer, as is the pink tone in dilute. This feels like a better replacement for Alizarin Crimson, but it’s still significantly warmer than, say, Alizarin Crimson Quinacridone. It’s funny because this color is only subtly different from the DS version of the same pigment, but it’s enough to make me “get it” where I didn’t really “get” DS Pyrrol Crimson.

Lightfastness Test for Holbein Pyrrole Rubine (PR264)

Lightfastness test for HO Pyrrole Rubin (PR264). Left: window swatch, exposed to western light in Boston, MA, from July 22-December 9, 2023. Right: Protected strip.

There’s a really subtle muting on the exposed side, but I was pretty surprised by how LITTLE this changed, given it’s got a poor reputation for lightfastness. It was about as much as the change in PR101, which is considered Lightfastness I. This is definitely good enough for me.

Color Mixes

Imidazolone Yellow (PY154)

DS Pyrrol Crimson (PR264) + WN Winsor Yellow (PY154)

Dull orange and gold mixes.

Pyrrol Orange (PO73)

DV Da Vinci Orange (PO73) + HO Pyrrole Rubin (PR264) on Canson XL

A range of bold scarlets and middle reds – including some good Pyrrol Scarlet and Pyrrol Red hues. Of course, if lightfastness is your concern, you may want to stick with Pyrrol Scarlet or Pyrrol Red, both of which are more lightfast than PR264.

Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255)

DS Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255) + HO Pyrrole Rubin (PR264) on Canson XL

Makes a nice fire engine red in the middle.

Quinacridone Coral (PR209)

DS Quinacridone Coral (PR209) + HO Pyrrole Rubin (PR264) on Canson XL

Quin Coral never seems to quite make middle red, even when mixed with a deep red like this one. The mixes remain in the pinky area or they just look like a weirdly literal mix of pink and red.

Phthalo Blue Green Shade (PB15:3)

DS Pyrrol Crimson (PR264) + WN Winsor Blue (PB15:3)

Muted purples.

Phthalo Turquoise (PB16)

WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16) + Holbein Pyrrole Rubin (PR264) on Canson XL

Similar to PBGS, even more muted.

Cerulean Blue (PB36)

DS Pyrrol Crimson (PR264) + DS Cerulean Blue Chromium (PG36) on Wonder Forest paper

Lovely cloudy, textured, purplish-gray mixes. Quite close to a neutral but with just enough bluey undertones to suggest stormclouds. I usually use three colors for a cloud shadow but this works with just two!


Holbein Indigo (PBk6, PB15, PR122) + Holbein Pyrrole Rubin (PR264) on Canson XL

Dark, deep purples. Reminds me of Perylene Violet.

Phthalo Green Blue Shade (PG7)

Winsor Green Blue Shade (PG7) + HO Pyrrole Rubin (PR264)

Very close to a complementary gray.

Phthalo Green Yellow Shade (PG36)

Holbein Pyrrol Rubin (PR264) + DV Phthalo Green YS (PG36) on Canson XL

I thought this was a great way to make a deep, perylene green hue.

What Others Say

Pyrrol Crimson is a more permanent crimson red to replace fugitive Alizarine Crimson. 
I have explored many options from many manufacturers for this colour, including the lovely Daniel Smith Permanent Alizarin Crimson but this is a mix of three pigments and I prefer single pigment colours where possible. Other options include Da Vinci Alizarin Crimson Quinacridone (PV19), Daniel Smith Carmine, Daniel Smith Anthraquinoid Red (PR177), Winsor & Newton Alizarin Hue, W&N Permanent Carmine as well as many deep reds made with the pigment PR179 (Perylene Maroon).  I love the colour of Anthraquinoid Red, but am not convinced it is totally light fast. 

Jane Blundell, Cool Reds

CAUTION. An attractive pigment, with a beautiful deep red color. However, as all the tested paints are near the bottom end of acceptable lightfastness, if you use them I recommend you put them through your own lightfastness test. Cadmium red deep or perylene maroon are suitable substitutes. See also the section on pyrrole pigments.

Bruce MacEvoy,


In my initial paintout of DS, I found it hard to like. I wanted to give it a chance because Jane Blundell liked it and because I saw its value on my palette (as a crimson that is more distinct from staple PV19 rose than ACQ), but I just didn’t care for it. When I tried Holbein’s Pyrrol Rubin, though, I really liked it!

Don’t expect PR264 to mix vibrant oranges or purples, as a brighter red or magenta would. It’s better for mixing more subdued colors, such as gray-purples (Perylene Violet hues); deepening reds; and muting blues or greens.

In landscape painting, I find it useful for adjusting green mixes, for adding red tones to browns, and for the occasional deep rich natural red, such as red maple leaves in fall. It adds a level of red to mixes that is bold for nature but still looks natural.

On my palette? I vacillate between this and Alizarin Crimson Quinacridone.

Favorite version: Holbein by far.

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