Cadmium yellow has been a very popular shade of yellow for decades due to its availability and versatility when mixed with other colors helping an artist get the most bang for their buck from their paints. Due to this, we constantly see people reaching out with questions about cadmium yellow to try and ensure that they are getting the most out of their paint supplies while also getting the best possible end result.
Over the last year or so, more and more people have been reaching out and asking for a cadmium yellow substitute so we have decided to publish this article to try and help as many of our readers as possible. We will be going over the six most popular cadmium yellow substitutes and showing samples of how they match up to actual cadmium yellow paint.
Now, we know that there are a number of reasons that you may need a substitute for a particular paint in your collection. That said, cadmium yellow paints and inks have had proposed bans against them multiple times now with the most high profile one being an EU wide ban on all cadmium pigment in 2015. Although this was never actioned, there are rumblings that this may be brought back into the spotlight after high levels of cadmium have been found in water supplies in both Europe and North America making more people look for a substitute.
Cadmium Yellow Color Code – #fff600
The Best Cadmium Yellow Substitutes
Although we usually do recommend that our readers just go with actual cadmium yellow where possible, we do have some very similar colors to it below that you are able to use if needed. On top of that, we also have a few popular alternatives that people use but have to mix additional colors with to get them similar to actual cadmium yellow.
Hansa Yellow Light
Hansa Yellow Light is one of the better cadmium yellow substitutes on the market right now and although it is a little darker than cadmium yellow, the difference is subtle. Depending on exactly what you are doing with your arts and crafts, you can use Hansa Yellow Light as a direct alternative to cadmium yellow if needed or in the same piece of artwork for layering. You can see how subtle the differences between the two colors are in our sample above for a better idea of just how similar these two are to each other.
The vast majority of paint brands do offer their product in Hansa Yellow Light and it offers just as much versatility as cadmium yellow. You are able to use it as a stand alone or when mixed with other paint colors for a wide range of tasks too with the color usually being available in acrylic, oil, and watercolor variants as needed.
Hansa Yellow Light color code – #e9d66b
Bismuth Yellow is another very popular cadmium yellow substitute due to it being so similar, easy to source, and cheap. Bismuth Yellow is ever so slightly darker than cadmium yellow but only by a touch with many people struggling to see the difference between the two with the naked eye due to them both being so similar.
Our sample above puts cadmium yellow and Bismuth Yellow side by side so you are able to see just how similar these two actually are to each other. Another advantage that Bismuth Yellow has over some of the other popular cadmium yellow alternatives is that it is just as opaque as cadmium yellow helping to keep it as similar as possible with the paint being available in acrylic, oil, and watercolor mediums.
Bismuth Yellow color code – #f9e303
Lemon yellow is another very popular cadmium yellow alternative that is commonly use in its place and offers similar results when used on both paper and canvas. Unlike the two cadmium yellow substitutes covered above, lemon yellow is slightly lighter than cadmium yellow rather than darker slightly increasing the versatility that it offers when mixing it with other colors.
Many people describe Lemon Yellow as cadmium yellow with a slight touch of white added in and you can easily see why from our sample of the two colors above. Although you are easily able to see the slight difference in color, they are still very similar to each other with lemon yellow also offering great versatility when added with other colors too. Lemon yellow paint is also available in acrylic, oil, and watercolor variants from all major paint brands making it very easy to find what you need.
Lemon Yellow color code – #fff44f
New gamboge is more of an orange than a yellow with it also being slightly darker than cadmium yellow too but you are able to mix New Gamboge with other paint colors, usually other yellows and a tough of white to get a very similar color to cadmium yellow. Although this can be used as a cadmium yellow substitute, we usually recommend against it as the three options covered above do tend to be much easier.
New gamboge tends to be a less popular paint color too so unless you already have it in your paint collection then going with any of the three options covered above will help to save you money too. Although mixing paints to produce a new color does tend to be easier than many people initially think, it can also take a little getting used to before you are able to accurately predict your results so just going with a better cadmium yellow alternative right off the bat is usually a better option.
New Gamboge color code – #e49b0f
Indian yellow is usually on the orange side of things but you are able to mix it with other yellows with a very small amount of white to get a decent cadmium yellow substitute. This can be a more realistic alternative if you don’t have the budget to purchase a new paint tube as Indian Yellow does tend to be a popular color option with many people carrying it as standard.
As Indian yellow does involve mixing the paint to be able to get it even close to cadmium yellow it can fall into the same issues explained above where it man take some practise before you are able to reliably predict how your paint mixing will turn out. Due to this, we would still recommend that you simply go with one of the first three cadmium yellow substitutes on our list, even if you already have Indian yellow in your paint collection.
Indian Yellow color code – #e3a857
Permanent Yellow Deep
There are a number of yellow deep and deep yellow colors on the market all with a slightly different shade to each other and although some people do mix it to use it as a usable cadmium yellow substitute, we usually recommend that our readers avoid it. Some of the deep yellow options on the market are so deep that it is very difficult to get them even close to cadmium yellow even if you know what you are doing with mixing your paint.
Even if you are on a tight budget and already have a deep yellow in your collection, we would still recommend that you folk out for a new tube and go with something like Lemon Yellow instead. It is much easier as it is a better alternative to cadmium yellow right out the tube and doesn’t require any mixing that could result in your wasting a surprising amount of paint.
Permanent Yellow Deep color code – #9B870C
That brings our article going over what we feel are the six most popular cadmium yellow substitutes on the market right now. Although the first three options are definitely our primary picks, a number of people do use the last three as it is what they have to hand and with a little bit of mixing, they can become a decent alternative to cadmium yellow.