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Paint Pigments: Cadmium Red (PR 108)

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Paint pigment cadmium red PR108

Paint Pigment: Cadmium Red PR108

Image: ©2007 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc

Characteristics: Cadmium red is a strong, warm, opaque red that is available in light, medium, and deep (or dark) versions.

Common Names: Cadmium scarlet, cadmium vermillion, cadmium bordeaux, selenium red.

Color Index Name: PR 108.
(Color Index Explained)

Color Index Number: 77202.

Pigment Origin: Mineral pigment produced from cadmium sulphide when heated with selenium.

Used for Painting Since: 1920s.

Opacity/Transparency: Strongly opaque.
(Opacity Explained)

Tinting Ability: Strong.
(Tinting explained)

Lightfastness Rating: ASTM 1.
(Lightfastness explained)

Oil Paint Drying Speed: Slow.

Health Warning: All cadmium pigments are toxic.
(See Health Warnings on Paint Tube Labels)

Specific Notes:

  • Cadmium pigments are expensive.
  • Some paint manufacturers produce cheaper and/or non-toxic cadmium hues.
  • Cadmium red tends to blacken when mixed with copper pigments.

Quotes About this Paint Pigment:
"Cadmium red has become the canonical rich scarlet of the modern age, a colour unmatched by any lake pigments for covering power and light-fastness." -- Philip Ball, Bright Earth, p383.

"Matisse was very much taken with this strong new red [cadmium red], which has excellent stability." -- Philip Ball, Bright Earth, p345.

"Remarkably, cadmium red was essentially the first major material innovation in red pigments since the introduction of carmine lake made from cochineal in the sixteenth century." -- Philip Ball, Bright Earth, p344.

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