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The Six Oldest Pigments in Human History


In today's world, understanding color in design involves color matching, discreet shade variations, and complex color palettes. Tens of thousands of years ago, however, understanding color in design consisted of utilizing the six oldest pigments in human history. Many of these are still in use today.

•Carbon black: Carbon blacks are created by heating wood or other plant materials in a space with restricted air space. It has been used since prehistoric times by artists for sketching and canvas drawings.

•Lime white: A combination of chalk and Bianco San Giovanni, lime white is created when dried lime is formed into a powder then immersed in water for eight days. After this process is complete it's formed into small cakes and left to dry in the sun.

•Yellow ochre: This naturally occurring mineral is made of clay and silica. It ranges in color from cream to brown and is found across the globe. The most versatile natural ochre comes from Cyprus and synthetic yellow ochre is used extensively by today's plastics and paint industry.

•Umber: Umber is a natural combination of manganese and iron oxides and hydroxides. It ranges in color from deep brown to cream. Umber is found in two varieties: the lighter raw earth umber and the darker burnt umber

•Red ochre: Used since prehistory, red ochre consists mainly of iron oxide and can be safely mixed with other pigments. Red ochres vary in transparency from completely opaque to semi-transparent.

•Bone black: Bone black is made from the charring of waste ivory or bones. It is blue black in color, the least pure variety of carbon black, and it contains calcium phosphate in a high percentage.

Understanding color in design is essential when choosing paint colors for your home. Visit us online to learn more about Dunn Edwards and our products.