Australian Fine Artist

Titanium White vs Zinc White in Winsor & Newton Oils

You may have grown up like me, thinking that there is just white. What could possibly be the difference between whites in paints, surely they are all the same, but possibly with different pigments or mediums to blend them with.
In this quick blog, I will discuss the differences between the two most commonly used white in oil paints and how you can gain best use from each one.

To begin, there is a difference in opacity between the two whites.

Titanium white is an opaque white. That means that any colour you add to it will be largely absorbed by the white. For example, when adding a dab of Alizarin Crimson, which is an intense cool red, you will notice that the white quickly absorbs a lot of the colour to create a very muted and soft lighter colour.

Zinc white is a semi transparent white. It is very good for mixing as it allows the colours you add to maintain some of their intensity. After adding Alizarin Crimson, the resultant colour is still much lighter but there is still a stronger intensity than you would achieve with Zinc white. This allows for a mix using this white to be painted over background colours letting some of them to show through.

So, to maintain colour saturation Zinc White is the white, it is also good for glazing, gives good coverage and is a cooler white than Titanium. For a soft muted light colour with only a hint of the original pigments, try Titanium White.

Try experimenting with these whites and various colour to see what results you get. Remember though that adding white, no matter which one, too early, will result in a chalky appearance. Always go for a lighter colour first before you add the white LAST.

An example is if you have an intense dark blue and want to lighten it, try adding gradually lighter and lighter blues first, then the white last. You may start with Ultramarine Blue, then try adding Cobalt Blue, then Tasman Blue, then LAST add some white. By adding the colours before any white goes into the mix, you will help to maintain the saturation of your blue.

To watch the video about whites follow the link below:


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