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Oil and Transparency

Transparency is explained as the effect of light being transferred through the paint film whilst opaque colours are the result of light hitting the paint film and bouncing back; we look at these qualities with oil colours in Alizarin Crimson and Winsor Red (transparent colours) and Cadmium Red and Cadmium Red Deep (opaque colours). These characteristics depend on the size of the pigment particles. The smaller the particle, the more oil is needed to bind the paint which makes for a transparent colour; these colours have a low Pigment Volume Concentration, or PVC. The larger particles have a higher PVC, with less space between the particles. This blocks the light and makes the paint opaque. Opacity can be adjusted with the addition of a medium, because that pushes the paint particles further apart, letting light penetrate. When choosing a colour, every Winsor & Newton tube has a symbol that indicates if it is transparent or opaque: a transparent colour is indicated with the outline of a square and an opaque colour is indicated by a solid square shape.