Sepia

Sepia is most often placed in the category of earth colors, in fact the color is the absolute opposite of an earth color, because it is originally a “sea color” extracted from the ink of cuttlefish.

The dried ink sacks from Sepia officinalis were ground to a fine powder and then mixed with a binder to give a surprisingly durable red-black color.

Sepia officinalis

Sepia officinalis
Marie Bournonville, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
A note by Leonardo da Vinci
A note by Leonardo da Vinci

Sepia as a writing and drawing ink is very old, it was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans and was very common in Europe until the 19th century.

Later, sepia became a common method of turning black and white photos into sepia tones. Lots of classical literature and visual art are created with sepia, everything from Leonardo da Vinci drawings of technical inventions and human anatomy to works by Socrates, Plato and Aristotle are drawn and written in sepia.

In my youth, I remember being able to buy bottles of sepia at my local art store. Nowadays, it is very difficult to get genuine sepia. What is currently offered is only black mixed with some brown. If you were to find genuine sepia anywhere, it would be very expensive. Nowadays, sepia only appears as a certain hue in various paints, mixed with black and brown, and as a filter in Photoshop.

As a watercolor paint, genuine sepia appeared during the late 1700s and onwards after it was discovered how the dye could be converted into a pigment. In other media, the color did not occur because natural sepia does not thrive in oil color. But today, all watercolor paints with the name sepia are just a mixture of black plus some brown color.

Not all watercolor paint manufacturers have the blackish-violet hue that true sepia has. Many have a much softer and warmer appearance. Some manufacturers have different variants of what they call sepia. The color is very well known so all manufacturers of watercolor paint provide some variant of a dark brown which they give the name sepia.

OLD HOLLAND: WARM SEPIA EXTRA

OLD HOLLAND: WARM SEPIA EXTRA
PBk9 Ivory black
PBr7 Natural iron oxide
PR177 Anthraquinone red

OLD HOLLAND: SEPIA EXTRA

OLD HOLLAND: SEPIA EXTRA
PBk9 Ivory black
PBr7 Natural iron oxide

HOLBEIN: SEPIA

HOLBEIN: SEPIA
PBr7 Natural iron oxide
PBk6 Lamp black

WINSOR & NEWTON – COTMAN: SEPIA

WINSOR & NEWTON – COTMAN: SEPIA
PBr7 Natural iron oxide
PBk7 Lamp black

WINSOR & NEWTON: SEPIA

WINSOR & NEWTON: SEPIA
PBk6 Lampsvart
PR101 Synthetic iron oxide

DALER ROWNEY: WARM SEPIA

DALER ROWNEY: WARM SEPIA
PBk11 Järnoxidsvart
PBr7 Natural iron oxide
PR101 Synthetic iron oxide

ROYAL TALENS - REMBRANDT: SEPIA

ROYAL TALENS – REMBRANDT: SEPIA
PBk7 Lamp black
PR101 Synthetic iron oxide

SCHMINCKE: SEPIA BROWN REDDISH

SCHMINCKE: SEPIA BROWN REDDISH
PR166 Azo Condensation Red
PBr7 Natural iron oxide
PBk9 Ivory black

SCHMINCKE: SEPIA BROWN

SCHMINCKE: SEPIA BROWN
PB15:1 Phthaloblue (RS)
PBr7 Natural iron oxide
PBk9 Ivory black

BLOCKX: SEPIA

BLOCKX: SEPIA
PBr7 Natural iron oxide
PBk11 Iron oxide black

SHINHAN: SEPIA

SHINHAN: SEPIA
PBk11 Iron oxide black
PR101 Syntetisk järnoxid

ART SPECTRUM: SEPIA

ART SPECTRUM: SEPIA
– ?

M. GRAHAM: SEPIA

M. GRAHAM: SEPIA
PBk6 Lamp black
PBr7 Natural iron oxide

MAIMERIBLU: SEPIA

MAIMERIBLU: SEPIA
PY164 Manganese Antiminy Titanium Buff Rutile

SENNELIER: RAW SEPIA

SENNELIER: RAW SEPIA
PBr7 Natural iron oxide
PBk6 Lamp black

SENNELIER: WARM SEPIA

SENNELIER: WARM SEPIA
PBk7 Lamp black
PBr7 Natural iron oxide

DANIEL SMITH: SEPIA

DANIEL SMITH: SEPIA
PBk9 Ivory black
PBr7 Natural iron oxide

MIJELLO: SEPIA

MIJELLO: SEPIA
PBr7 Natural iron oxide
PBk7 Lamp black

DA VINCI: SEPIA

DA VINCI: SEPIA
PBk6 Lamp black
PBr7 Natural iron oxide

GRUMBACHER: SEPIA NATURAL

GRUMBACHER: SEPIA NATURAL
-?

GRUMBACHER: SEPIA

GRUMBACHER: SEPIA
PBr7 Natural iron oxide
PBk6 Lamp black

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