Creating your own paint is a great way to cut costs while exerting greater control over the shades and effects you desire. Dry pigment powder can be combined with binders to create a variety of painting media, from oils to acrylics, and you usually need just a small amount of pigment. (Keep in mind that the amount of binder will vary depending on the pigment used.) Like paint, however, the quality of powders is wide ranging in order to suit projects from crafts to fine art. No matter what powder you favor, you should always handle these particles carefully and protect yourself from inadvertent inhalation. Review our picks of the best powdered pigments to find the one that suits your needs.
1. Sennelier Artist Dry Pigment
Sennelier offers only top-quality pigments formulated according to a tradition of rigorous research it’s kept since the late 1800s, when the company was making oils for its post-Impressionist clientele. Artists can purchase close to 100 colors reflecting a mixture of natural earth, inorganic, and synthetic pigments, many of which are quite difficult to find. Case in point: Sennelier’s ultramarine blue light, which results from a complex process that reproduces the luminous intensity of lapis lazuli. Sennelier also provides the most comprehensive brochure about its pigments, with each color accompanied by notes on its properties, compatibility with binders, and even tips on how to retain vividness. These are pigments for serious artists who understand the properties of different binders and want to spend time learning more about their materials. Note that several pigments are toxic, such as Veronese green, chrome yellow, and flake white, which Sennelier still prepares using ancient methods.
2. Gamblin Dry Pigment
These are the pigments used in the company’s oil paints, which are known for their brilliance and strength of color. They dissolve well, whether mixed with linseed oil or binders, pouring mediums, epoxy resin, even wax. We’re also fans of how they showcase beautiful, natural granulation due to how they are ground. Where Gamblin falls behind is in color choice, however, with only 22 colors available in four- ounce jars.
3. Schmincke Metallic Powders
For special effects, consider purchasing metallic powders from Schmincke. Known for its range of pure, traditional artists’ pigments as well as modern formulations, the German company also offers powders in shades of gold, bronze, and silver. They are finely sieved to be more uniform in consistency and are available in five colors and three different formulations for watercolor, acrylic, or oil-based mixing. (Note that each formulation should be used with its corresponding medium, available separately).
4. Jacquard Pearl Ex Powdered Pigments
Looking for something more beginner- or kid-friendly? Jacquard’s set of nontoxic pearlescent pigments is versatile and great for afternoon crafting sessions. Made from pure ground mica—a stone mineral with natural shine—these are highly stable pigments that incorporate well into any viscous medium. Mix them with oils, encaustics, acrylics, or epoxy; use them for stamping; dust them over polymer clay—the possibilities are nearly endless. The superfine powder adds vivid color as well as a subtle shimmer. You get 12 colors in this set of 0.1-ounce jars, including turquoise, flamingo pink, and misty lavender.
5. Grapewoods International Artists’ Dry Pigment
Grapewood may be the least high-profile company on our list, but don’t count it out just yet. The Cyprus-based company has been around since 1973 and formulating its earth and inorganic pigments for two generations. These include pigments for industrial and manufacturing use, but also impressive, artist-grade powders that are pure—not mica powder—and are noticeably bright. The color selection is limited, with only 31 colors available, but they include interesting ones that other brands featured here don’t offer, like malachite, limonite, and terre verte. (Note that it will take time for your order to arrive from Europe.)