What Unbleached Titanium Can Add to Your Palette

Launched to artists paints within the Sixties, Unbleached Titanium (pigment index quantity PW6 or PW6:1) is a shade of yellow-grey that may be described as being like parchment, suede, or sand. As its identify and pigment index quantity suggests, it’s intently associated to Titanium White. Nevertheless, its traits are very totally different and the probabilities it affords in color mixing are not like every other pigment. This text explores its historical past, distinctive traits, and the way its color mixing capabilities can enrich any painter’s palette.


Unbleached Titanium mixtures

Unbleached Titanium watercolour mixtures


The Historical past of Titanium White and Unbleached Titanium

So as to perceive the historical past and properties of Unbleached Titanium, it’s a must to look first at Titanium White. Titanium White is a white pigment composed principally of titanium dioxide. In nature, this compound is discovered most abundantly in minerals like ilmenite or rutile, from which high-purity titanium dioxide will be extracted or synthesised. By the top of the nineteenth century, titanium dioxide was already getting used as an acid-resistant agent in ceramic glazes and enamels, however from 1908 researchers in Norway and the US started exploring the compound’s potential as a white pigment attributable to its excessive opacity.

Nevertheless, the hunt for a pure-white pigment was not a straightforward one– alongside titanium dioxide, ilmenite comprises iron-oxides, metallic compounds that give earth pigments their color. Due to remaining iron-oxide impurities, the primary experimental batches of Titanium White ranged from off-white to reddish-yellow. Even by 1927 the pigment was nonetheless described as being barely yellow in hue. This might be improved by utilizing components like calcium phosphate and barium sulphate, however these compromised the opacity of the pure titanium dioxide. The method of constructing a brilliant Titanium White pigment with excessive opacity was refined and perfected over the primary half of the twentieth century, and the pigment was regularly taken up by artist-paint producers within the Nineteen Thirties.

Titanium White paint

Williamsburg Titanium White Oil Paint, an opaque brilliant white pigment


Whereas builders of Titanium White labored exhausting to take away iron-oxides from the white pigment, it’s the pure incidence of iron-oxides with titanium dioxide that provides us the ‘unbleached’ number of Titanium White. Nevertheless, somewhat than being really ‘unbleached’ (Titanium White pigment shouldn’t be bleached within the first place), the pigment is a titanium dioxide pigment that’s formulated in order that it nonetheless comprises round 1.5% iron-oxide, giving it a attribute buff color. The primary firm to supply it in an artist paint was Bocour, an organization co-founded by Sam Golden who would go on to determine Golden Artist Colors. Within the Sixties, they purchased what they thought was Titanium White pigment, but it surely turned out to be an off-spec titanium dioxide that was sandy-beige in color. Not desirous to let the pigment go to waste, they made a paint with it that they referred to as ‘Unbleached Titanium’, a reputation that sums up its uncommon hue. The color proved to be common amongst artists, and in the present day the color is included in lots of artist paint ranges. Many nonetheless use this authentic identify, whereas others use ‘Buff Titanium’ or ‘Titanium Buff’.


Titanium White vs. Unbleached Titanium

Williamsburg Unbleached Titanium Pale Oil Paint, which appears to be like sandy-beige subsequent to Titanium White


The Properties of Unbleached Titanium

It shares many properties with Titanium White, similar to its extraordinarily excessive opacity and excessive refractive index, however there are some notable variations. Titanium White pigment has very small pigment particles (often lower than 0.4µm), whereas the ‘unbleached’ selection measures round 1µm. Moreover, in oil paint it dries a lot quicker than common Titanium White as a result of it requires solely a small quantity of oil to grind it right into a usable paint. This makes it a helpful underpainting color. There’s a certain quantity of variation between manufacturers, with some being barely pink and others extra yellow or orange in hue. These variations are as a result of precise composition of every pigment and the quantity of iron-oxide it comprises.



Color Mixing with Unbleached Titanium

Used by itself, it may not look like probably the most thrilling color. It’s somewhat boring and dense, and any shade that may be described as ‘beige’ may not be instantly inspiring. Nevertheless, it’s a colour-mixing powerhouse that may add texture and ambiance to many various palettes. Examine, for instance, how in another way Titanium White and Unbleached Titanium modify Ultramarine Blue. The Titanium White lightens it to a brilliant, main blue, whereas the ‘unbleached’ various lends just a little green-ness, making extra muted and atmospheric blues.


Titanium White vs Unbleached Titanium in mixtures with Ultramarine Blue

Ultramarine Blue in incremental mixtures with Titanium White (high row) and Unbleached Titanium (backside row)


Titanium White is commonly the go-to white for a lot of artists, however its brightness can seem scientific when one thing extra delicate is required. For instance, if you happen to use earth colors in your work, Unbleached Titanium might be a better option for lightening their worth whereas sustaining their earthy-quality.


Unbleached Titanium with earth pigments

Unbleached Titanium oil paint in incremental mixtures with (from high to backside): Jackson’s Uncooked Sienna (PBr7), Michael Harding Uncooked Umber (PBr7), Williamsburg Pompeii Pink (PR102), Williamsburg Lemon Ochre (PY43), Jackson’s Burnt Sienna (PBr7)

When blended with pinks and purple pinks, it makes a variety of velvety, delicate pinks that will be at residence in botanical and portrait palettes.


Unbleached Titanium in mixtures with pinks and purples

Unbleached Titanium watercolour in mixtures with (from high to backside): Jackson’s Quinacridone Purple (PR122), Sennelier Cobalt Violet Mild Hue (PR122, PV16, PW6), Jackson’s Cobalt Violet Deep Hue (PR122, PV16)


Unbleached Titanium’s yellow-bias must be taken under consideration when utilizing it in color mixing. It implies that it makes a pure mixing companion to quite a lot of greens, including an earthy softness and better opacity to them.


The identical is true for blues that lean in the direction of inexperienced. Within the combination beneath, it enhances the green-ness of Cobalt Teal:



Because of its giant and irregular pigment particles, Unbleached Titanium is a granulating pigment in watercolour. These extremely granulating properties will be exploited to make some gorgeously textural washes, notably when paired with different very granulating pigments. Even including only a small quantity to a different color lends it a velvety texture:


Unbleached Titanium with Cerulean Blue and Potter's Pink

Unbleached Titanium watercolour with Michael Harding Cerulean Blue (PB36) and Maimeri Blu Potters Pink (PR233)


As proven within the color mixes above, the delicate and velvety high quality of Unbleached Titanium will be helpful for imparting a muted earthiness to pigments which might be in any other case very brilliant and vibrant. If there are any mixtures you take pleasure in utilizing, then please tell us by leaving a remark beneath.


Additional Studying

Granulation in Watercolours: What’s it and Easy methods to Use it?

Black Pigments and Getting the Most Out of Utilizing Black in Your Palette

Color Mixing: The Atmospheric High quality of Cool Color Palettes

Pigment Tales: Quinacridone Pigments


Store Unbleached Titanium on jacksonsart.com


Evie Hatch

Evie’s pursuits lie within the historical past and traits of artist colors and supplies. This analysis performs a big half in her artwork apply; she loves investigating conventional strategies and makes her personal watercolour and oil paints. Evie graduated in 2016 from Camberwell School of Artwork with a level in Drawing. She is presently learning Artwork Historical past on the Courtauld Institute, London.