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How to Read the Label on a Tube of Paint

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Opacity and Transparency of a Color
How to Read the Label on a Tube of Paint

How to Read the Label on a Tube of Paint

Image: ©2006 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

Whether a color is opaque (covers up what's beneath it) or transparent is of greatest importance to painters who work with glazes to build up color, rather than mixing on a palette. Not very many manufacturers provide this information on the paint tube label, so it's something you have to learn and remember (see: Testing Opacity/Transparency).

Not all paint manufacturers indicate whether a color is opaque, transparent, or semi-transparent on the tube. Some, like the acrylic paint manufacturer Golden, make it easy to judge how opaque or transparent a color is by having a swatch of the color painted on the label over a series of printed black bars. The swatch also enables you to judge the final dried color, rather than having to rely on a printed version of the color. If you notice some variation in the swatches between tubes, this is because they're painted by hand, not by machine.

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