Choosing The Right Cerulean Blue Watercolor

There Are Differences Between Brands. Let’s Take A Look

Cerulean Blue is one of those colors that doesn’t seem to be “standard”.  It’s confusing and disappointing buy a color with a familiar name then find that it isn’t what you expected.  Unfortunately, colors from different brands that have the same name often look and work very differently. 

Cerulean Blue watercolor is one of the offenders. This lesson shows you why and how to insure you are getting the color and results you expect.

The Cerulean Blue Problem

Long ago, the range of available pigments used for paint was limited. Most pigments were made from some organic material, mineral or metal oxide.

The color generally known as “cerulean” goes back to classical times and was referred to as “caerulum“.  Caerulum was the name given to many blue hues and were created from mixtures of copper and cobaltous oxides, like azurite and smalt.

“Modern” cerulean blue was discovered in the 18th century by a Swiss chemist.  The primary chemical constituent of the pigment is cobalt stannate.  It’s Color Index code is PB35.  Cerulean Blue (PB35) was valued for it’s ability represent sky and sky blue.

In more recent times, chemist developed another version of Cerulean blue using cobalt chromate (or oxide of chromium). The Color Index code for this newer version is PB36.


“Real” Cerulean Blue and “Genuine” Cerulean Blue

The problem for us watercolor artists is that both versions of Cerulean Blue are sold under the same name. Just to add to the confusion, the more recent cobalt chromate (PB36) verion is often labeled as Cerulean Blue – Genuine. Yet, each version looks and works differently.

Is one better than the other? No. But it’s likely you will prefer one over the other so you need to know just which one you are working with.

This lesson shows and compares the two different versions of Cerulan Blue and shows you how to make sure you are getting the right one.

What you’ll need

Winsor Newton Cerulean Blue (PB35)
DaVinci Cerulean Blue Genuine (PB36)


Related Lessons

Lessons About The Basics of Color

Color Studies