Frequently Asked Questions

I'm confused, what's this painting tool all about?

The painter's tool is a nifty way to compare brands of paints and explore the color gamuts of paint. It gives you leads on other tubes of paint to investigate, one's that you might find useful without having to stand in the paint store isle reading labels for hours.

Please watch the videos on the home page to see some examples of how it's useful.

How Accurate are the Munsell Notations listed for each paint tube?

For painters, creating fine art, you should find the Munsell Notations given here to be more than accurate enough!

Measuring the color of a paint is a tricky topic. As an artist you've probably figured out that paints can look different depending on how thick they are applied. Lighting can also affect the perceived color of a paint, not to mention wet vs. dry, the angle of the light source and so on. This is the problem in trying to catalog the colors of paints. Different people use different tools and standards by which they measure the paints. Some sources of Munsell Notations are probably better than others but all should give you a very reasonable idea of a color's hue, value, and chroma.

Williamsburg paints for example, has a very controlled and repeatable procedure for calculating Munsell Notations. Williamsburg Paints uses equipment to ensure that the paint films are precisely 6/1000 of an inch. According to Williamsburg, this is considered an opaque mass tone. They then dry the paint and take a color reading of the paint film using a high-end spectrophotometer.

Can I use the colors on this screen to compare my paints against?

No. The colors displayed on this website are for just convenience and should not be used to make any specific color choices. You can't effctively compare paint to colors displayed on a screen.

The Munsell Notations provided are, however a useful way to compare paints. Take note of the Munsell Notations given here and look them up in your Munsell Book of Color for an accurate way to comprehend a paint's color.

Why isn't there Munsell data for every paint?

Munsell data is very difficult to get. Currently there are only a handful of Brands that provide this level of color information to consumers.

Is this tool only for oil painters?

Right now yes, but if there is enough interest it may be possible to provide similar information for acrylics, watercolor, and possibly even pastel.

Why should I care whether a paint is made from a single pigment?

Single-pigmented paints are useful because they, will *always be of a higher chroma compared to their multi-pigmented counterparts. Besides you can just mix the multi-pigmented paints yourself. Having high chroma paints is very useful because you can always reduce a paint's chroma but never increase the chroma by means of mixing*.

* Adding a small amount of white to certain low-value, transparent paints such as phthalo blue, quinacridone red, etc. will give a slight boost in chroma.

Are multi-pigmented paints bad?

No. Paint with whatever gives you the results you want.

Are paints made from the same pigment the same exact color?

No, there are no guaranties. The pigment (color index) listed on each tube of paint indicates the colorant(s) used in making the paint. eg: PW6, PB29, PR101, etc. Pigments are sourced through various means and even when sourced from the same place they can still vary.

You'll find that some pigments stay very close in color no matter what manufacturer you are using while others can vary more.