Project A.C.E.

Art. Chemistry. Education.

What is a pigment code?

A pigment code is a standardized categorization of various pigments, regardless if they are in watercolour or not. A pigment code represents a certain chemical composition and is universal across manufacturers. For instance, the code 'PB29' always means a sulphur-containing sodium-silicate commonly known as 'Ultramarine blue'.
The name the paints don't always reflect the pigment composition. For example, 'Lemon yellow' can have pigment A for one manufacturer but pigment B for a different manufacturer.

The pigment codes can be found on most watercolour tubes or on manufacturer web pages. They are read as follows:
P = Pigment
R = Red
Y = Yellow
B = Blue
O = Orange
G = Green
V = Violet
Br = Brown
Bk = Black
W = White
So, 'PBk11' means 'pigment black 11'. The numbers the follow precisice the pigment's chemical composition.