Ultramarine: a unique colour

It says much for the unique properties of ultramarine that even when its cost was immense, nothing else would suffice when artists and craftspeople needed a blue of such particular intensity.

No other combination of pigments could be found to create the same rich, blue vibrancy, so for millennia, ultramarine was produced using rare lapis lazuli. The only significant deposits of this semi-precious mineral are found in Chile and the Badkshen region of Afghanistan, then as now, a very remote and inaccessible area of the world.

Holliday Pigments’ ultramarines offer the same sought-after qualities but in products which are far more economic to use and readily available. Our ultramarines are used in a diverse range of industries, from construction to fine art supplies, plastics to cosmetics. Ultramarine remains a uniquely sought-after and versatile colour.

Click here to view the Artist's Wheel

Standard Pigments Range (Holliday Pigments).pdf
Ultramarine blue cola bottle caps

The colour space

We all see colour differently, and relate to it in different ways. However, colour can be accurately defined scientifically.

The way humans perceive colour can be described in terms of three characteristics: lightness, hue and saturation. By creating scales for each of these stimuli, colour can be measured and described numerically.

The first method of colour expression was devised by the American artist A H Munsell. The Munsell renotation system gives a combination of letters and numbers relating to Hue, Value and Chroma (HV/C) for any colour, based on Munsell Color Charts. Two further methods have been developed by the Commission Internationale de l'Eclairage (CIE), the XYZ colour space and the L*a*b* colour space. Colour space is a method of expressing the colour of a light source or object in some form of notation.

Using an instrument called a Colorimeter, the aspects of any colour can be measured and then positioned within a colour space. The artist's wheel highlights the unique red-shade blue position of our ultramarine blue, as well as our ultramarine violet, ultramarine pink and manganese violet pigments.

Ultramarine blue telephone keypad