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What do we mean when we say there are 'Warm Reds' and 'Cool Reds'? 


Red pigment is probably one of the oldest pigments the modern world uses, but it dates back to the Ancient World. Red Ochre dates back to the prehistoric cave paintings in Altamira, Spain, which date between 15000 and 16500 BC.

In Ancient Egypt during celebrations they would paint their bodies with red ochre, to them it was the colour of life, health and victory. 

The Ancient Greeks would associate Red with the Greek gods of war, Phoebus and Ares. Throughout history and today the colour red has held and still holds special significance for cultures around the world.

There are many variations of Red pigment, which you can buy in all of the painting mediums; Oils, Acrylic, Gouache and Watercolour. They can be used straight from the tube or mixed with other pigments to create tints and tones, but which Reds are classed as ‘Warm’ reds and which are classed as ‘Cool’ reds? 

By definition Red is a warmer colour on the colour wheel, but we can clearly see how Reds become warmer as they move towards Orange and Yellow, and cooler as they move towards Blue and Purple. 

As Artists we all know how important planning is and how useful it is to create a preliminary colour palette before embarking on a painting. Testing out colours, making them darker or lighter or more vibrant, creating colour charts and mixing warmer or cooler colours.

Our preliminary investigations would also include; transparency of colour, opacity and mixing strengths. Embarking on these investigations will save us time in the long run and help us to understand how we can create a warm and cool balanced colour palette within our compositions. However, similarly buying a combination of warm and cool Red colours and understanding how they perform when mixed will save you time in the long run also. 

Below we have compiled a list of familiar Red paint names which you may already own in your tool box, this list is not exhaustive. Then we have put them in two categories, Warm and Cool to make it easy to identify when purchasing. 

Why is it important to choose the correct temperature? Warm Red or a Cool Red?

Using the correct warm or cool red paint, will inevitably save you time and money, and provide you with exactly the right type of colour clarity, appropriate for your painting. 

If you want to mix a vibrant violet/ purple colour you could use a cool red pigment such as Alizarin Crimson or Quinacridone Magenta that have a blue bias and a warm blue such as Prussian Blue, or Ultramarine Blue, which have a red bias. Mixing these two colours will provide you with a bright Violet/Purple colour. (look out for our next article on how to mix Violet/Purple). 

Adding white to your mix will provide you with a higher value and a lighter Purple/Violet tint usually called Lilac. 

Using a warm red such as Cadmium Red and a warm blue such as Phthalo Blue will result in more of a muted looking Purple/Violet. But do test out these theories and monitor your progress, so you can dip into your notes and investigations for future reference, keeping notes is an invaluable tool for aspiring artists.

If you wish to create a warm, rich, bright Orange colour you would need to use a warm red such as Cadmium Red and a warm yellow such as Cadmium Yellow. Applying varying amounts of red pigment to yellow pigment will provide you with a range of red-oranges or yellow-orange hues. 

To darken you only need to add its complimentary colour blue, try a warm blue then try a cool blue, both will give you different results. 

You can mix warm colours with cool colours, but your secondary colour may not be as vibrant as you wish, however if you need to mute colours this mixing technique is useful to know. Ultimately understanding colour temperatures will greatly assist in developing your colour mixing skills.

Most common names for RED paint colours, it should be noted that there can be many variations of the same ‘named’ colour by different manufacturers, for example a Liquitex Crimson may not be exactly identical in value as a Winsor & Newton Crimson even if the ingredients look the same! 

Warm Reds have an Orange/Yellow Bias

Cool Reds have a Bluish Bias

We have collated a comprehensive list of products with direct links to our website to help you identify which red paints are available under the various brands we offer.

Red Oil Paints

Winsor & Newton Winton Oil

The increased popularity of painting has led to the development of Winton Oil Colours which have been made to the highest standards within moderate cost limits. The application of traditional skills and modern colour chemistry techniques has resulted in a range of carefully selected colours, primarily designed for use by both amateur and student artists. The replacement of some of the more expensive traditional pigments with modern alternatives, enables these standards and economic price level to be maintained. Wherever possible, the most permanent pigments have been selected for use with the Winton range. The formulation and manufacturing process ensure that the product will remain stable within the tube as well as offer the most permanent paint film possible.

Winsor & Newton Artists' Oil Colour

Artists' Oil Colours are formulated with the finest pigments for beautiful colours with excellent tinting strength. Every tube of Artists’ Oil Paint contains a calculated ratio of oil and pigment based on the quantity of oil in the tube. This varies from colour to colour because, just as some pigments need to be ground finer than others, they also need more, or less, oil to provide optimal performance.

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Daler- Rowney Georgian Oil Colour

Daler-Rowney Georgian Oil Colours are made from carefully selected permanent, organic pigments ensuring the highest standards of durability, reliability, lightfastness and working properties. These rich, low-odour oil paint colours can be used directly from the tube with brush or knife, or thinned to create the finest of glazes.

  • Traditionally crafted and triple-milled. High pigment load including cadmium and cobalt.
  • Exceptionally permanent (3*) and brilliant colours.
  • Smooth and buttery consistency.
  • Colours are intermixable and consistent from wet to dry.
  • Surface dry in 4 to 5 days

Daler- Roweny Graduate Oil Colour

Daler-Rowney Graduate Oil is an affordable range of oil paints ideal for students and hobbyists looking for reliability and performance. Graduate Oil colours are smooth, easy to use, and mix well together, drying to a low gloss satin sheen within 5 days.

Can be used with a traditional palette or directly from the tube with brush or knife and applied to the canvas.

  • Impressive pigment loading
  • High lightfastness (3*)
  • Smooth body
  • Dries to a low gloss satin sheen within 5 days
  • Ideal for students and amateurs. Good intermixability. Easy to use.

Daler- Roweny Artists' Colour Professional

Artists' Oil Colour is ideal for impasto techniques. Artists’ Oil colours are characterised by their thick buttery consistency and their uniform gloss-finish. Daler-Rowney Professional Artists’ Oil paint offers professional artists superb colour brilliance and permanence.

  • Purest pigments triple-milled.
  • Optimal lightfastness and permanence (19 colours offering 4*).
  • Thick buttery consistency.
  • Superb colour brilliance.
  • Excellent covering power.

Michael Harding Handmade Artists Oil Colour

Michael Harding Oil Paints are made by hand, using techniques which date back to the Old Masters. The reason for this painstaking process was to create colours that were true and vibrant, and paint which was beautiful and durable. This has been achieved and as a result these paints are used by many leading artists including Sir Howard Hodgkin and David Hockney.

All colours are ground in a grade of refined cold pressed linseed oil chosen for its neutral acidity. There is one exception to this Titanium White No.1. This is ground in refined safflower oil. As well as using traditional pigments this range also makes use of more recent technological breakthroughs in the production of pigments to produce paints of quality that previous generations did not have.

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Red Acrylic Paints

ArtDiscount Studio Heavy Body Acrylic Paints

Acrylic paints made from high quality eco-friendly water based pigments and finest acrylic emulsions. Ideal for established artists and students of Art. Thicker consistency, use with a palette knife or brushes impasto applications retains knife or brush marks.  

  • Excellent blending and mixing characteristics
  • High pigment loading - rich, brilliant colours
  • Highly versatile, dries to a low gloss surface on high impasto areas and a soft satin finish on thinner applications.
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Artdiscount Acrylic Paint

GRADUATE to ARTdiscount own brand acrylics. A high quality acrylic paint representing fantastic value for money! Ideal for artists, schools, colleges, workshops and at home. Works fantastically on canvas, paper, wooden surfaces and even brick and cement.

  • Made in the UK by Daler-Rowney especially for ARTdiscount.
  • Good pigment strength and flows easily
  • Water soluble and contains no solvents
  • In accordance with EC labelling regulations all colours are classified as non-dangerous for use
  • Water resistant when dry
  • Solvents not needed
  • Excellent covering power
  • Can be used on any paper or primed board or canvas
  • For indoor and limited outdoor use - Varnish once dry with acrylic suitable varnish for increased longevity
  • Unique valve mechanism in the lid to minimise wastage
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Liquitex Basic Acrylic

Basics gives you the perfect balance of quality and economy. Made for all artists, formulated with the exacting Liquitex standard. They are made with the same lightfast, fine art pigments that are used in professional range, but just a lighter load.

Liquitex Basics Acrylic paint tubes are available in 72 brilliant colours. Great performance at a more affordable cost. Thick and creamy with a satin finish Retains peaks and brush strokes Completely safe for educational use.

All Liquitex paints use the highest quality pigments and go through the same rigorous manufacturing process. The only difference is that with Basics we use a lower concentration of pigment than our professional paints. For Basics, fine art pigments are selected and milled using the latest basket bead-mill technology, in the same way as Soft and Heavy Body Acrylics. Pigments are ground with tiny reinforced ceramic beads to give fine dispersion, great colour development, strength and brightness, before being added to the acrylic emulsion. It is intermixable with all other existing Liquitex acrylic colours and mediums

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Daler-Rowney System 3 Acrylic Paint

Daler-Rowney System3 Acrylics are versatile water-based colours made from high quality pigments. System3 Acrylic colours are lightfast, permanent (ranking from 3 to 4 stars for most of the colours), opaque (10 opaque and 20 semi-opaque colours), flexible and quick drying, making them suitable for applications on multiple surfaces both indoor and outdoor.

  • High quality pigments, superior pigment loading allowing it to be thinned with water.
  • Excellent lightfastness and permanence (36 colours offering 4*).
  • Smooth acrylic resin binder for a creamy, medium body viscosity.
  • High versatility: multi-surfaces, indoor and outdoor, ideal for mixed media. Excellent adhesion.
  • Intermixable with acrylic mediums.
  • Can be used on any paper, artboard, wooden panels and canvas
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Sennelier Abstract Acrylic

Innovative, elegant, handy and just feels right.

Highly pigmented for rich colour with superb coverage, smooth buttery consistency with enough body to hold brush marks and peaks makes this the perfect paint to use in the studio, out in the field or straight from the pouch in your hand.

The paint is kept safe in a study, flexible, plastic pouch which features a screw-top cap so no spills and no split tubes or cracked pots if dropped or stepped on.The clear window in the pouch makes it easy and quick to know at a glance what colour you’ll be using and what it’ll look like before it hits the palette.

Permanent and water-resistant when dry. Available in 55 colours with a satin finish.

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Golden Heavy Body Acrylics

The original line of GOLDEN artist acrylic is known for its exceptionally smooth, thick consistency. It contains the largest assortment of unique pure pigments in a 100% acrylic dispersion polymer available to the professional artist. These colours offer excellent permanency and lightfastness. There are no fillers, extenders, opacifiers, toners or dyes added. Each colour is formulated differently depending on the nature of the pigment.

  • Densely pigmented for intense colour and stability
  • Paints arranged in series 1-9 based on pigment used.
  • No added matting or gloss agents so each colour will dry with a finish unique to the pigment load.
  • Superior body and hold, paint with retain stiff curls and peaks even before adding additional mediums
  • Intermixable with GOLDEN High Flow, Fluid and all GOLDEN Mediums.
  • Water based, clean with soap and water after use.
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Winsor & Newton Professional Acrylic

The Professional Acrylic colours are unrivalled in their richness, intensity and depth of colour. These colours appear brilliant when wet but they remain as bright when dry and maintain little to no colour shift depending on dilution.

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Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic

The Galeria Acrylic range offers excellent brilliance, professional quality pigments, opacity and permanence with a smooth, satin finish. Galeria uses either the same pigments as the professional range or a similar pigment, but in a lower concentration.This makes it easy to use with, or transition to artists' grade when a wider choice and higher pigment strength is needed.

Vibrant and fluid, for quick and easy coverage. Available in 60 colours. For best results, use Winsor & Newton Acrylic Pads and brushes.

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Red Watercolour and Gouache Paints

Individual Studio Quality Watercolour Half Pans

Half pan watercolours made from high quality pigments. Each colour isindividually formulated to produce fine watercolour wash effects or can be used in a less diluted form for detailing and more precise work. 

With 48 beautiful hues to choose from, you can now buy single half pans to create individual and personal palettes for all your painting adventures! Seascapes, landscapes, still life, or floral displays or buy additional hues to replace popular colours you use more often! 48 rich and highly pigmented hues with good transparency and diffusivity. All colours are totally intermixable or use straight from the pan. Excellent tinting strength and transparency. These watercolour pans offer a wide selection of both jewel rich colours ideal for designers and illustrators along with the essential neutral and earth hues needed for a more naturalistic palette. These watercolour pans are vegan friendly, as no animal bi-product has been used in the manufacture of these pigments.

For home and studio use we recommend a watercolour block and a good set of brushes for the best result, either purpose made synthetic or sable. If you're out and about then we suggest a watercolour sketchbook and a water brush pen for fast and flexible access to colour and washes. 

Individual Studio Quality Watercolour Half Pans

Liquitex Acrylic Gouache

All the qualities of gouache with the water resistance and durability of acrylic. The most intense colours are Liquitex Acrylic Gouache ultra smooth flat and matte. No brush strokes. No cracks. No need to dilute. Superb fluidity and application: all with a permanent, water-resistant finish when dry.

Acrylic gouache works well on a variety of surfaces and supports from primed canvas to sealed wood and particularly well on hot pressed watercolour paper.  

  • Ultra-pigmented
  • Smooth and fluid
  • No brush strokes 
  • Matte finish
  • No need to dilute
  • Non-cracking
  • Opaque/semi-opaque
  • Permanent when dry
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Sennelier L'Aquarelle Artists Watercolour

A watercolour tailored to the needs of today's artists.

This exceptional and very high quality watercolour will help you make your works even more powerful due to the liveliness and purity of the hues. The colours mix together perfectly, offering superbly subtle shades. These smooth, intense colours will be a genuine pleasure to paint with.

The addition of honey will allow the tubes and pans of Sennelier watercolours to stand up to the passing of time and each time you will paint with them you will be able to accurately translate the diversity of light shape and hues.

Individual Sennelier watercolours in metal 10ml tubes with a series number, lightfastness value and pigment content information.

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Daler-Rowney Artists Watercolour

Daler-Rowney Professional Artists’ Watercolour offers professional artists superb rich and free-flowing colours. The Artists' Watercolour colours are designed to surpass the highest standards of professional artists with excellent colour brilliance and covering power.

  • Finest quality pigments triple-milled.
  • Optimal lightfastness and permanence (21 colours offering 4*).
  • Rich, free-flowing colours.
  • Great mixing ability.

Pronounced colour intensity.For the best results as well as superior work time and control we recommend using some high quality sable brushes or sablene brushes as a vegan alternative.

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Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolour

Winsor and Newton have produced this economical watercolour paint by using less expensive materials rather than the more costly pigments without compromising on quality and colour clarity.

The resultant Cotman colours possess good transparency, with excellent tinting strength and good working properties.

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Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolour

Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolours are made from the finest pigments available in the highest concentration possible for maximum colour strength and clean colour mixing.

Superbly smooth handling with superior transparency makes these watercolours the paint of choice for many practising watercolour professionals around the world.

For the absolute best performance possible consider coupling these superior watercolours with an equally high quality Series 7 Sable Watercolour Brush.

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Winsor & Newton Designers Gouache

Winsor & Newton Designers Gouache paints are a range of brilliant opaque water colours for Designers, Visualisers, Illustrators and Fine Artists.

Winsor & Newton gouache paint is perfect for creating bold, vibrant artworks. All these tones are intermixable and you can pair them with our watercolours for a flat, matte colour effect.

Apply with watercolour brushes and use watercolour paper or watercolour blocks for best results.

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To conclude this article, we hope you have been inspired to use Red pigment in your work, that you are a little clearer on what is available to you and the difference choosing the right warm or cool red pigment will make. Do share your work with us and follow us on Instagram, Facebook or Youtube for further information and inspiration on all things Art and Design related.

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