Prussian Blue Vs Phthalo Blue

Prussian Blue Vs Phthalo Blue – A Comprehensive Comparison

Artists often find themselves overwhelmed with the multitude of different paint colors available in the market today. When it comes to choosing between two shades, the importance of selecting the right one cannot be overstated. Two such shades that are often debated upon are Prussian Blue and Phthalo Blue. This article aims to provide a comprehensive comparison between Prussian Blue and Phthalo Blue, highlighting their properties, uses, and differences, helping artists make an informed decision.

Prussian Blue

Prussian Blue is a rich, deep blue color with a slightly greenish tone. It is one of the oldest synthetic colors and dates back to the early eighteenth century. This hue was first created by a German color chemist, Johann Jacob Diesbach, while experimenting with making a red pigment from cochineal when he accidentally discovered the rich blue color. It was named “Prussian Blue” as it became hugely popular in Prussia, a German state at that time.


Prussian Blue has a strong tinting power, which means a small amount of it can tint a large amount of other colors. It is also very granular, making it ideal for impasto painting techniques. With a medium level of transparency, this hue looks exceptional when applied thinly, adding depth to other painting layers.


Prussian Blue has been widely used by artists from the nineteenth century. It is a staple color in oil, watercolor, gouache, and acrylic paintings. This hue adds a distinct personality to traditional landscape paintings, making water and sky appear mesmerizing. Prussian Blue is also an excellent choice for color mixing, making it ideal for creating shadows, grays, greens, and purples. It is widely used in printing ink, textile, and paper dyeing industries.

Phthalo Blue

Phthalo Blue is a vibrant, dark blue color with a slightly red or green tint, depending on the pigment mix. It is derived from synthetic dyes discovered in the 1920s and is one of the most popular hues among contemporary artists today.


Phthalo Blue is a potent pigment with a high tinting power that can make other colors appear vivid and lively. Its transparency ranges between transparent to semi-opaque, depending on its pigment mix, which makes it suitable for layering and glazing techniques. This color is also known to be very staining, meaning it can be hard to lift from the paper or canvas once applied.


Phthalo Blue is widely used by acrylic and watercolor artists for its intense and vibrant color. It is an excellent color choice for creating tropical skies, deep, dark seas, and landscapes full of life. Its staining ability makes it an ideal pigment for washes and glazes, creating a unique visual effect when applied to paper or canvas. Phthalo Blue also mixes well with other colors, making it an essential pigment for creating shadows, greens, and purples.


The two shades differ in their hue, brightness, and transparency. Prussian Blue is a darker shade of blue with a greenish undertone, while Phthalo Blue is vibrant and bright with a red or green tint. Prussian Blue is granular and has a medium level of transparency, while Phthalo Blue is more fluid and has a high level of transparency. Prussian Blue is known for its staining ability, while Phthalo Blue is known for its high tinting ability.

Final thoughts

Choosing between Prussian Blue and Phthalo Blue mainly depends on the artist’s individual preference, style, and intended use. Prussian Blue is an ideal option for artists looking to add depth and granular texture to their works, while Phthalo Blue is perfect for artists seeking intense and vibrant colors with excellent tinting power. Both hues are essential colors in an artist’s palette, and there is no right or wrong choice. However, artists should always remember to select high-quality pigments that meet their requirements to ensure a long-lasting and precise work of art.

Keywords: Prussian Blue, Phthalo Blue, pigment, tinting power, transparency, staining ability, granular, vibrant, deep blue, greenish tone, high quality, oil, watercolor, gouache, acrylic paintings, landscapes, color mixing.