Cadmium pigments

Cadmium pigments have cadmium as one of their chemical components. Cadmium zinc sulphide and a mixture of cadmium zinc sulphide with cadmium selenide are commonly used in artists' paints. Cadmium zinc sulphide is the base for Cadmium Yellow, while the incremental addition of cadmium selenide allows for an extended range of oranges, red, browns and, even, black (while a Cadmium Green also exists by mixing cadmium yellow with a green pigment).

Cadmium pigments are brilliantly coloured but opaque, and have good permanence (lightfastness) and tinting power when appropriately protected in their paint vehicle. Yet, they tend to fade with exposure to air and in high humidity environments, such as fresco and mural painting.

Cadmium is also a toxic (carcinogenic) substance, and may be absorbed by the skin. Thus, care needs to be taken when using cadmium-based paints. Also, you can substitute cadmium-based paints for azo compound-based paints, which are equally excellent and non-toxic.

List of cadmium pigments and Winsor & Newton's paints

Cadmium pigment Single-pigment paints Lightfastness Transparency Series
PY35 - cadmium zinc sulphide cadmium lemon, cadmium yellow (light, medium, deep) I O 3
PO20 - cadmium sulphoselenide cadmium orange I O 3
PR108 - cadmium sulphoselenide cadmium red (light, medium, deep) I O 3


  • Wikipedia - Cadmium pigments
  • JENNINGS Simon (2003). Collin's artist's colour manual. HarperCollins Publishers (England, UK), 2003. ISBN 9780007147038.