Red Fiery and active, and in command, red is hot!
No other color has the attention grabbing power of red. The tiniest portion of pure red in a painting has a bossy I am king type of attitude that dominates surrounding colors. Perhaps that is why it has always been a favored color for kings and other autocrats, and when communism came along and it was philosophically unwise to dress the leader in red, it became the color of the flag. Red is the color of things burning hot and we learn that lesson early in life. When we are cut and see the blood it is red. We are hard wired to associate red with danger, with life, with power, with pain. It is little wonder that we notice it so readily. The poetry of being human is manifest however when this awareness of red allows us to fall in love with the red of a rose set in dark green foliage.

Cadmium Red PR 108   ASTM   l
Chemical type and description
Inorganic synthetic Cadmium. Calcined co-precipitated Cadmium Sulfide and Cadmium Selenide. The higher the portion of Selenium the redder the pigment is and the degree of calcination also influences the redness. Introduced in the early 20th century it was able to replace the extremely poisonous Vermilion used in previous centuries. It is available in a wide range of shades from scarlet to a deep purplely maroon. It is has great permanence. It is a slow drier and makes a hard and flexible oil paint. Like all Cadmium's it is wise to seek the chemically pure versions, as they are stronger and more pure in color. Most Cadmium pigments on the market have up to 15% Barium Sulfate or Lithopone content. As these impurities are chemically similar to the pure product this is not regarded as a problem in industry but is better avoided for artist's use. Only a few of the best brands of artist's paints on the market actually contain the chemically pure version, however. One of the joys of making paint in the studio is the discovery of how strong, rich, and vibrant the CP. Cadmium's are.  There have been in the past versions with Mercury Sulfide which were developed due to a Selenium shortage at one time. These are referred to as Cadmium Vermilion Red and should be avoided. Should not be used in dry media such as pastels due to toxicity concerns with the dust.
Cadmium is considered toxic, suspected carcinogen. Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
Linseed oil,  Alkyd, Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache, Tempera, Encaustic, Fresco..

Pyrrole Red PR 254   ASTM   l
Chemical type and description
Organic synthetic Pyrrole. Artist's owe a debt of gratitude to the automotive industry. Their need for  high light fastness reds for expensive sports cars lead to large amounts of money invested in research. The Pyrroles are a new class of red and orange pigments that are the first organic red pigments to equal the Cadmium's in terms of permanence. It is recommended to replace the more poorly performing Napthol's, Perylene's, and anthraquinone's with Pyrroles where similar shades exist. Suitable for all media, and light fast even in pale tints, this is a pigment to trust.
Not considered toxic. Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
Linseed oil,  Alkyd, Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache, Tempera, Encaustic, Fresco, Pastel, Chalk.

Pyrrole Alizarin PR 264   ASTM   l
Chemical type and description
Organic synthetic Pyrrole. This deep powerful blue-red has a gorgeous undertone. Mixes with Pthalo Green to make delightful blacks, mixes with Ultramarine to make sensational permanent violets, this color is still too new to be found easily but the search can be very rewarding. Absolutely light fast and suitable for all media, this would seem to be an almost perfect color for the 'permanent alizarin' shade that is so useful for artist's.
Not considered toxic. Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
Linseed oil,  Alkyd, Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache, Tempera, Encaustic, Fresco, Pastel, Chalk.

Alizarin Crimson PR 83   ASTM   l l l
Chemical type and description
Organic synthetic Anthraquinone. When first developed in 1868 it was believed to be more permanent than the natural madder it was to replace, stronger and generally thought to be better. Artist's ignored the fact that the pigment produced brittle oil films that had a strong tendency to crack with time because the color itself proved hugely useful and it became one of the universally recommended colors by generations of art teachers. Unfortunately while people believed it was good, it seemed no one thought to check the facts and there was general surprise when independent testing of pigments started in recent years it was revealed that not only was Alizarin no better than Madder, it tested as being less light fast. At ASTM l l l it is too impermanent to be recommended for artwork that needs to last and art materials manufacturers have been quick to introduce  more reliable 'permanent alizarin's', usually mixtures of one or two pigments in the search to find that same beautiful and useful color as Alizarin Crimson. My personal recommendation is the Pyrrole pigment mentioned above.

Should you prefer to use the original it makes a hard and brittle oil paint and is a slow drier. Alizarin Crimson has a tendency to darken. It is not considered suitable for acrylics or fresco. It comes in a variety of shades from rosy scarlet to deep maroons
Not considered toxic. Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
Linseed oil,  Alkyd, Watercolor, Gouache, Tempera, Encaustic, Pastel, Chalk.

Rose Madder NR 9   ASTM   l l
Also known as Madder Lake and Rose Madder Genuine
Chemical type and description

Organic pulverized root of plant (Rubia Tinctorium).  Used as a textile dye from ancient Egyptian times it had only limited use as an artist's color as it was a weak color. It seems to have been used even less by artist's during the Renaissance, but that could be due to more alternatives coming on the market. it was in the 19th century that chemists were able to develop a better way of extracting the coloring agent and thereby making the pigment stronger and more useful. Alizarin Crimson largely replaced the pigment later in the century partly due to the false belief that Alizarin was superior.

Rose Madder Genuine is well liked by artist's for its color but unfortunately it is at the very bottom of the scale of what is considered permanent enough for permanent artwork and has become the de facto standard for deciding which colors are considered fugitive (less light fast than Madder) and acceptable as permanent (more light fast than Madder). Madder is average to slow drying and makes a hard and fairly flexible oil paint. It is suitable for all media except Fresco.
Not considered toxic. Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
Linseed oil,  Alkyd, Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache, Tempera, Encaustic, Pastel, Chalk.

Venetian Red PR 101   ASTM   l
Various shades are called English Red, Light Red, Red Oxide, Indian Red, Mars Red, Mars Violet, Caput Mortuum.
Chemical type and description

Inorganic synthetic iron oxide. This is the synthetic and more reliable version of the natural Earth reds which are labeled as PR 102. While the natural 'Light Red's can have great beauty they are very inconsistent in quality. Genuine Venetian Red from the quarry where Titian obtained his supplies is still available from Blocx, but it appears the pit is too small to ever supply more than a few enthusiasts. This opportunity is open to the artist making paint in the studio by hand however. The opacity, cleanness of color,  and delicacy of tints make the synthetic versions well liked by artist's. Very deep violet shades and intense reds are very rare in nature and when found supplement the manufactured colors perfectly. The red iron oxides are average driers, and make hard and fairly flexible oil paints. They are suitable for all media.
Not considered toxic. Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
Linseed oil,  Alkyd, Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache, Tempera, Encaustic, Fresco, Pastel, Chalk.

Quinacridone Red/Rose/Magenta Great reds
Chemical type and description
Organic synthetic Quinacridone. All ASTM  l. Several pigments that are the most light fast organic colors in their color range. Bright, transparent, clear colors, strong, light fast in tints, non toxic and very recommended pigments, suitable for all media. gorgeous colors that are relatively expensive. Consequently it is usually easy to make pure paints of great intensity that take full advantage of the true beauty of these colors and that are superior to the weaker versions made by most manufacturers.
Quinacridone Magenta (PR 122) Bright blue-red, the most permanent organic pigment in this color range.
Quinacridone Red and Quinacridone Violet (PV 19) This pigment is available in a wide range of colors from true reds to lipstick pinks to deep rose and red-violets. The most light fast organic pigment in this color range. May be problematic during paint making however.
Quinacridone Red Y (PR 192) A bright  clean pigment of high light fastness and tinting strength.
Quinacridone Scarlet (PR 207) A high performance pigment used in the automotive industry due to its light fastness. Can be problematic during paint making.
Not considered toxic. Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
Linseed oil,  Alkyd, Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache, Tempera, Encaustic, Fresco, Pastel, Chalk.

Napthol Reds Common organic monoazo pigments
Chemical type and description
Organic synthetic monoazo. A large number of monoazo pigments ranging from scarlet reds to deep maroons and bordeaux. Unfortunately most of them fade in tints. Even the best of them that manage to be classed as ASTM just barely scrape in and are noticeably less light fast than Cadmium Red. Personally I wont use any of the Napthols as there are other reds, both organic and inorganic that are superior in terms of light resistance in tints and so I see no need to use the Napthols. They often, however, have a price advantage, and are widely used as artist's colors. So I am grouping the Napthols into ASTM classes for the first time so that artist's can sort the poorer offerings from the better and make more informed choices should they decide they want to use these easy to find pigments. They share nearly identical characteristics with the exception of their suitability for fresco, so I put a covering suitability list at the bottom and then individually not 'Fresco yes' or 'Fresco no'. All 10 of these pigments are average drying and produce hard and fairly flexible oil paint. These are the 10 Napthols commonly offered for artist's use. As art materials they can have a wide variety of names including 'Vermilion',  'Carmine', 'Permanent Red,' and many others. In the pigment trade the common names are often confusing and in at least one instance 2 of these pigments share the same common trade name. This is where the color index number becomes very important in distinguishing which is which. I have not listed the less relevant common names used by artists paint manufacturers but include common names found in the pigment trade.
PR 7   Napthol Red F4HR, also called Napthol AS-TR,  a  beautiful bluish red, has been sold in acrylics as 'Brilliant Alizarine'. Fresco: no.
PR 119   Napthol Red FG,  a clean bright yellowish red. Fresco: yes.
PR 188   Napthol Red HF3S,  a very pure yellowish red. Fresco: no.

ASTM  l l
PR 5   Napthol ITR, also known as Napthol Carmine FB. A deep crimson red. Fresco: yes.
PR 9   Napthatol AS-OL also called Permanent Red FRLL. Poor light fastness in tints. Fresco: no.
PR 14   Napthol AS-OL, also called Napthol Bordeaux FGR, a very dark red. Fresco: yes.
PR 112   Napthol Red AS-D, also known as Napthol Red FGR, Permanent Red FGR, and Permanent Carmine. Very common in water based paints, especially acrylics, but has poor light fastness in strong light or in tints. Fresco: no.
PR 170   Napthol Red F5RK, also known as Napthol Carbamide. A bright strong bluish red. Fresco: no.

ASTM  l l l
PR 17   Napthol Red AS-D, also called Napthol Red. ASTM l l l pigments are too impermanent for serious artwork, and since there are many far better choices available there is really no reason to use this poor pigment. Fresco: no
PR 146   Napthol Red, also known as Napthol Carmine FBB, and Permanent Carmine. Ever notice how often pigments that are likely to fade are given the name 'permanent'? This color should never be used for serious artwork. It always fades in tints. Avoid unless you want your work to lose it's brilliance in a short time. Fresco: no.

Not considered toxic. Do not breath dust.
Media suitability
Linseed oil,  Alkyd, Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache, Tempera, Encaustic, Pastels, Chalk.

Other reds Various choices
Light Red (PR 102)   ASTM  l
Can be natural Red Earths but they are far more variable in quality than the Yellow earths and so they are not generally used in industry. Instead these pigments tend to be burnt Yellow Ochre or Raw Sienna, which is far more dependable and consistent, and produces a beautiful red earth color that is more transparent than the synthetic pure iron  oxides and many artist's still like this more 'natural' product. There is a fascinating account in Cennini in which he describes going into the mountains with his father to find natural earths and his surprise at the variety of colors they found.

Transparent Red Oxide PR 101   ASTM  l
These variations on the iron oxide manufacturing process produce a pigment particle that is exceptionally small and the color becomes semi transparent as a result. This produces a color that is more red and less orange than Burnt Sienna but has a similar degree of usefulness and beauty as the Sienna and extends the color range for this kind of pigment. Unfortunately many artist's do not try this excellent pigment because it is more expensive than the opaque oxides, and I suspect they don't realize that the transparent variety is worth trying.

Vermilion (PR 106)   Also known as Chinese Vermilion, less commonly Cinnabar.
Inorganic synthetic Mercuric Sulfide. The name Cinnabar should be reserved for the natural ore, which has many impurities and is in all ways inferior to the artificial version. The Chinese have been using the synthetic version since early times but until the eighth century, when it became widely imported, Europeans used either the native ore (Cinnabar) or a refined version more like the Chinese, but not so brilliant and pure. Chinese Vermilion never fades, but in some circumstances can turn black. Very poisonous, it has now been totally replaced by Cadmium Red. Some painters of the old school complain that Cadmium Red is a different shade that does not match the 'perfect' color of Vermilion which they liked. This is because when the Cadmium's were first introduced the shades chosen were deliberately different to the well established Vermilion. With careful searching and accepting only chemically pure pigment, the artist who makes paint in the studio should be able to find a shade that is very close to the Vermilion original.

Vermilion was always hated by Renaissance apprentices because of the common knowledge that the more the pigment was ground, the redder it became. Pity the poor apprentice awaiting the master's approval that this batch is ground enough.

Still made in China and available if you know a Chinese calligraphy materials supplier, it should be treated with the utmost caution.

Perinone Red Deep (PR 194) A high performance deep red with excellent light fastness, non toxic and suitable for all media. Recommended. ASTM l

Perylene Reds (all ASTM l)
Perylene Vermilion (PR 123)
Bright transparent red suitable for all media but like all Perylenes can fade in tints.
Perylene Red BL (PR 149) Excellent brightness and tinting strength. but tints may fade, Suitable for all media.
Perylene Red (PR 178) Excellent light fastness but not suitable for acrylics,
Perylene Maroon (PR 179) excellent light fastness but lacks brightness and is not suitable for acrylics.
Perylene Scarlet (PR 190) Very good light fastness and suitable for all media

Anthraquinone Reds. Perylene reds, Alizarin Crimson and the 'Anthraquinones' are all in fact simply various members of the anthraquinone family but most use other names. All of those mentioned in this page have better performance than Alizarin in terms of light fastness, but none are the most light fast pigments of their color.
Anthraquinoid Red (PR 177) ASTM l. very transparent  vat pigment. Tends to fade in tints, Suitable for all media.
Brominated Anthranthrone (PR 168) ASTM l l. Suitable for all media, but tints are dull and low in strength, and fade.

Benzimidazolone Red HFT, also called Benzimidazolone Maroon (PR 175) ASTM l. Excellent light fastness but lacks brightness. Suitable for all media.

Thioindigoid Red, also known as Permanent Red. (PR 88) ASTM l. Excellent light fastness and suitable for all media. Recommended.

Ultramarine Red (PV 15) ASTM l. Correctly a variety of Ultramarine Violet, this rare pinkish color is too pale and weak to be really useful. It is however of the same permanence as Ultramarine Blue. Suitable for all media except Fresco.

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