Cerulean Blue (PB35, PB36)

cerulean blue

If you search for “Cölinblå” on Google, which is the traditional Swedish name for the color, you only get a few results, most from Riksantikvarieämbetet (The Swedish National Heritage Board), but if you change the spelling to Coelinblått, there will be many more. I have not met anyone who calls the color by any of these names, for most Swedes, who are engaged in art. is the name of the color “Cerulean blue”. I just want to point this out because I think it’s sad that almost no one knows the traditional names for colors in Swedish. It’s called Cölinblå, not Cerulean blue. Smargdgrön (Eng: Emerald green), not viridian. Cinnaber, not Vermilion. The Sienna is obränd (Eng. unburned), not raw and so on. But, enough whining…

Just as with the relative Cobalt Blue, the pigment was discovered in the early 1800s but did not become common as an artist’s color until George Rowney marketed the color in 1860 under the name “coeruleum”, the original color Cerulean Blue is pigment PB35, (cobalt tin oxide). A closely related pigment that is often called cerulean blue is PB36 (cobalt chromium oxide) which is a little greener and is sometimes called cobalt turquoise.

Both of these pigments are semi-opaque to opaque and pale. They are, like all the cobalt colors, toxic and granulating but not staining. The color becomes a little less saturated in dried state but does not lose in value. The name Cerulean comes from the Latin “caelum” which means heaven, sky, which may explain a possible use.

I myself do not use Cerulean blue, I still have a couple of old manganese blues which I think is a fantastic light turquoise color which unfortunately is no longer made because the production is harmful to the environment. But as long as I have a little manganese blue, I do not need Cerulean, but when my manganese blue is finished, I may switch to Cerulean blue, in which case it should be the turquoise variant, not the warmer blue.

Cerulean blue cannot be used as the main blue color in a painting, it is too light for this. It must be supplemented with another blue, cobalt or ultramarine for example. Cerulean blue works best in thin washes, it has excellent blending properties with red colors if it is not too green and with yellow for greenish blends. However, it can hardly be used for black or darker gray mixtures.

If you understand the limitations that Cerulean blue has, it is a very useful color, I myself prefer the expired manganese blue. But Cerulean blue is a good replacement for the same use.

Never buy the fairly common falsified colors, Cerulean blue is one of the colors that is sometimes falsified because the pigment is very expensive and toxic. The color is a real classic that all manufacturers provide, several manufacturers have two variants of the color.


Color index name: PB35 | PB36
Lightfastness: Excellent
Transparency: opak, semiopak
Staining: Not at all
Granulation: Yes

The color is opaque
It is easy to wash off
Does not float in water
No blooming to speak of
Granules heavily
Cerulean Blue is light and cold blue

WINSOR & NEWTON – Cerulean Blue – PB35
WINSOR & NEWTON – Cerulean Blue (red shade) – PB35
DANIEL SMITH – Cerulean Blue – PB35
DANIEL SMITH – Cerulean Blue, Chromium – PB36
OLD HOLLAND – Cerulean Blue light – PB35
OLD HOLLAND – Cerulean Blue deep – PB36
HOLBEIN – Cerulean Blue – PB35
ROYAL TALENS : REMBRANDT – Cerulean Blue deep – PB36
BLOCKX – Cerulean Blue – PB36
LUKAS : 1862 – Cerulean Blue – PB36
M. GRAHAM – Cerulean Blue – PB36
M. GRAHAM – Cerulean Blue deep – PB36
MAIMERIBLU – Cerulean Blue – PB36
MAIMERIBLU – Cerulean sky blue – PB35
SCHMINCKE – Cerulean Blue – PB36
Grumbacher – Cerulean Blue – PB35
Da Vinci – Cerulean Blue Genuine – PB36


SENNELIER – Cerulean Blue – PB28
SENNELIER – Cerulean Blue red shade – PB28


SCHMINCKE – Cerulean Blue hue – PW4/PB15:3
SHINHAN – Cerulean Blue hue – PB15:3
WINSOR & NEWTON : COTMAN – Cerulean Blue – PB15
ROYAL TALENS : REMBRANDT – Cerulean Blue phthalo – PB15 PW6
MIJELLO : MISSION GOLD – Cerulean Blue – PB15:3
SCHMINCKE – Helio Cerulean – PB16
DA VINCI – Cerulean Blue Hue – PB15
ROYAL TALENS : Van Gogh – Cerulean Blue – PB15, PW6

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Tracy Kline
Tracy Kline
1 year ago

I love how you use the word cheaters. Haha. Thank you for a very insightful article. I’ve only used a few brands of PB35 and PB36 as cerulean. DaVincis PB36 is my favorite over WN Cerulean Blue. I’m currently more interested in PB36s that lean more toward turquoise and teal and I’ve found a Baikal Lazurite that resembles a sky bLue best to me. I haven’t tried it with any yellows yet, but will be perfect for a lightly cloudy day.

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