Since my early days of painting when I was first introduced to Indanthrone Blue, this color has been an essential blue in my palette. Indanthrone Blue is a strong, deep blue that’s comprised of Pigment Blue 60 or PB60. Because this dark blue is comprised of only a single pigment, it’s a great choice for beginners who can get into muddy trouble when using multi-pigmented dark blues.
Like all watercolors, PB60 can also be labeled by other names like Indanthrene, Anthraquinone, Delft, Indigo, and more. Because I’m a sucker for simplicity, I usually refer to this color as Indie Blue.
Indanthrone Blue (or PB60) is very lightfast, dilutes beautifully, and is highly stable in mixes. It’s also moderately staining, though it has wonderful manners and won’t overpower your palette like many staining colors. It also lifts easily from artist-grade papers, and provides a nice balance to warmer, lighter blues in a palette.
Because I consider this color a keeper, I thought a watercolor comparison of Indanthrone Blue (PB60) might help you pick an indie blue for yourself. Below, I showcase six different PB60 watercolors by five different watercolor manufacturers along with a video of the colors in action.
I also share a PB60 swatch and mixing chart that’s free to download and print for future reference.
Note: All effort has been made to accurately display each color, but please make allowances for scanner variations and monitor differences. Some links are affiliates.
Comparing Brands of Indanthrone Blue (PB60)
Schmincke Dark Blue Indigo is a middle-of-the-road PB60. It has a hint of redness when diluted, but in strong saturation, the red is swallowed up in a cool, dark denim shade.
M. Graham Anthraquinone is the warmest PB60 in this collection, but its strength overshadows any hint of red. Though Anthraquinone is a beautiful color and I appreciate its character, in my hand, it is the hardest PB60 to deal with in a painting. Its love of attention reminds me of Ultramarine Blue so it's best when kept in the foreground.
In my tests, Da Vinci Indanthrene and QoR Indanthrone appear as a nice, soft denim blue and display little red. In dilution, both perform extremely well but in full saturation, I greatly prefer the richness of Da Vinci. As I mentioned in my review, QoR tends to lose luminosity when used in masstone.
Mixing Indanthrone Blue (PB60)
The color nuances that I mentioned above disappear in mixes, so individual characteristics are simply a personal preference when using Indanthrone Blue as a singular color. When it comes to mixes, chroma compatibility and cohesiveness is much more important than any tiny color variations.
I haven't tested Schmincke extensively (yet), but all of the other brands that I've featured mix very well, so I would be highly surprised if Schmincke breaks the winning streak. Even bold M. Graham doesn't mind mingling in a mix.
Above are a few examples of common indie blue mixes, but when it comes to mixes, the sky's the limit. As you can see in the example below, it's easy to adjust the amounts of each pigment to produce a variety of colors. You can find more information at this article on how to adjust mixes and saturation levels to produce various colors.
Video Comparison of Indanthrone Blue Watercolors
It's very difficult to scan and portray watercolors accurately, so when I made the swatches for this post, I created a video to show how each color appears together on a page along with a few of my favorite Indanthrone Blue mixes. Hope this helps!
Indanthrone Blue (PB60) Prices
For many of us, price is often the deal breaker. When it comes to watercolors (or all art supplies), I prefer not to sacrifice quality for price. I'll also pay a tiny bit more for a color that I love... but only a tiny bit.
I can usually learn to work with a color that will save me tons of money in the long run. All of these PB60s perform well and look very similar, so just in case price is your deciding factor, I thought I would include this information.
Of course, prices are often relative and regional. While Schmincke can be jaw-droppingly expensive in the States, it can be one of the most affordable brands in many European countries. Because of this, be sure to do your own comparison shopping. This article may help.
Below are current prices of Indanthrone Blue (PB60) at Cheap Joe's Art Stuff at the time of publication. I've listed them from least to greatest cost per ml.
DV Indanthrene Blue - $9.28 per 15 ml tube / 62¢ per ml
MG Anthraquinone Blue - $10.31 per 15 ml tube / 69¢ per ml
DS Indanthrone Blue - $12.46 per 15 ml tube / 83¢ per ml
QoR Indanthrone Blue - $11.40 per 11 ml tube / $1.04 per ml
SCH Delft Blue - $18.89 per 15 ml tube / $1.26 per ml
SCH Dark Blue Indigo - $18.89 per 15 ml tube / $1.26 per ml
Shopping for art supplies through these links will help support Scratchmade Journal. Thanks!
Indanthrone Blue (PB60) Printable
If you've found the information in this post valuable, you are welcome to download and print a free PDF for your own personal use. Just click on the image or button to access the file.