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5 Pigment Qualities

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Confused when selecting paint?

Several paint qualities you’re looking for happen at the pigment level. Here’s a few qualities that may help you make more informed decisions when it comes to selecting paint for your painting projects. They are qualities that aren’t specific to brands of paint, rather the pigment themselves. So this is general information no matter what brand you use.

NOTE: Generally the name of the paint tells you what pigment it is. I’m talking about artist paint, not something like fabric paint where the paint name could be “Unicorn Princess.” Although that does sound like an awesome color 😉

  1. Level of smoothness – (this quality is really more about the kind/brand of paint I just realized) I suggest getting paint the consistency of heavy cream or soft butter.
  2. Insoluble in paint binder/vehicle – paint is made up of pigment, binder, vehicle, and fillers (lesser quality paints have more fillers and less pigment which makes them “less expensive”). Your paint will dry and you want the pigment to stay on the canvas/paper and not “stick” to the binder/vehicle (I also just realized you really don’t need to pay attention to this unless you’re making your own paint from scratch, but FYI).
  3. Lightfastness – the ability to withstand fading in light or air. I think of some photography exhibitions at museums. They’re put in rooms with low lighting due to the prints being more light sensitive. The same concept can also be present in certain paint pigments.
  4. Opacity or Transparency – is it see-through or opaque?
  5. Unaffected when mixed with other things – I sometimes make uncommon paint mixtures (mixing my paint with things like glue, joint compound, coffee, etc.). Mix media mixtures might have an affect in how your painting wares over time.

What are some things you look for when selecting paint?

Until next time,


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