Color List

This is a list of watercolor paint colors for which I’ve made Color Spotlight posts (or plan to, or might). I’ve arranged them in terms of palette slots. Generally, palette slots are hue families, and Color Spotlights are at the pigment level: multiple brands of the same color are in the same Color Spotlight.

Looking to replicate another artist’s palette? Often, if an artist uses a color in a particular slot, you can substitute another color from the same slot. Other paint qualities may be different (e.g. transparency, granulation).

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This is not an exhaustive list of all paints or pigments. I chose to spotlight the most popular or common single-pigment paints that I could find. I put a star next to my favorites. Click each color name to find my Color Spotlight with my personal testing and opinion of that color.

Yellow Family

There are so many options for yellows, and many of them are really, really similar.

Lemon Yellow

AKA Cool Yellow. These yellows have greenish undertones and mix very bright greens.
(Roughly in opaque-to-transparent order)

Middle Yellow

Banana yellows with neither a green nor orange undertone. Versatile for mixing.
(Roughly in opaque-to-transparent order)

Warm Yellow

Orange-toned yellows, handy for mixing bold oranges and naturalistic sap greens.
(Roughly in opaque-to-transparent order)

Discontinued warm yellows:

  • Nickel Dioxine Yellow (PY153)
  • Quinacridone Gold (PO49) – see hue


I set this aside as a separate category because these heavy-metal-based muted yellows have unusually transparent, wide-ranging, luminous, seemingly glowing properties that sometimes make them worth putting on a palette even if the unmixed hue is uninspiring or reduplicative with another color.

Earth Yellow

I define earth tones as being muted, brownish in hue, and/or granulating. Usually they are made from iron oxides. These ones have a yellow color. Earth yellow can be really useful for landscapes and sometimes for skies and sunsets as well!

Orange Family

Although there are many warm yellow and scarlet options, there are fewer options for bold orange. Many artists choose to omit orange for their palette as bright oranges can be mixed from warm yellow and scarlet options. Earth Orange is an extremely useful category of earth tones.


Any bright (non-earth) orange. (Roughly in yellow-to-red order)

Earth Orange

I consider this the most useful earth tone; if I could have only one, it would be an earth orange! Create cooler browns by mixing with blues.

Red Family


aka Warm Red, the most orange-toned of the reds.

Middle Red

Fire engine reds.


These reds begin to be cooler and sometimes have pink undertones. Often they’re also a bit deeper.


A mix of blue and red light, magenta is closer to a “true primary” than red. A magenta, rose, or pink color can have a crucial palette slot as a versatile mixer, or for botanicals. Mix with orange or a bit of yellow for red, or with blue for vibrant violets.


Dark scarlets. These are sometimes considered earth reds because of their muted hue, but they aren’t granulating.

Earth Red

Granulating earthy reds, typically generally in the maroon space.

Violet Family

There aren’t a huge number of single pigment violet paints. Most violets are mixed from magentas and blues. This list is arranged roughly from most violet to most blue. For earthy “violets”, see the Maroon and Earth Red categories above.


Blue Family

There are a relatively small number of single pigment blues. While the task of choosing your favorite yellows, reds, and pinks can involve a lot of picking between similar options, you are more likely to choose several of the available blues.

Violet Blue

Middle Blue


Green Family

While many mixed green paints are available, there are not too many single pigment options. As with other secondary colors, these are often skipped in favor of mixing your own, or using convenience mixes.


Neutral Colors


Here I’ve just placed browns that are so brown I can’t put them anywhere else. For other earth tones, see Earth Yellow, Earth Orange, Maroon, and Earth Red above.



  • Lamp Black (PBk6)
  • Ivory Black (PBk9)
  • Lunar Black (PBk11)
  • Spinel Grey (PBk26)
  • Grey Ochre

Mixed Colors

Although I’ve concentrated mainly on single pigment colors for the color spotlights, some mixed colors are so unique and popular that they invite specific investigation. Here are some highlights:

Multiple color roundups: