Although there are a number of different dark blue colors that are very popular for arts and crafts, ultramarine blue is definitely one of the three most popular options right now and it is slowly increasing in its popularity. As with all of the more popular colors of paint and ink, we constantly see questions on them from people trying to improve the performance of their paints.
One of the more popular questions that we have noticed being asked recently is how to make ultramarine blue at home so we have decided to publish this article going over the subject. We already have an article online going over how to make Prussian blue at home with it being another popular dark blue and we hope that this article can be just as helpful to our readers covering ultramarine blue.
Before we go any further though, we want to be clear to our readers that the vast majority of people reading this article will be better off going with a decent commercial Ultramarine blue paint rather than making their own paint due to the time and costs required. Another option that we would recommend as your second step is to simply pick up some commercial Ultramarine blue pigment and add it to the medium of your choice for the type of paint that you require.
This is due to the majority of cost and time investment in making your own ultramarine blue paint at home is in the creation of the actual pigment. If you are able to get a store bought pigment and focus on adding it to the required medium then it is able to drastically reduce the costs and time required for the process.
What Colors Make Ultramarine Blue?
You are able to mix cerulean blue with a small amount of light green and lemon yellow to get close to ultramarine blue but adding the slightest hint of violet really helps to get you as close as possible. As different paint brands used their own unique pigment charts for their colors it is impossible to give exact ratios so a large amount of trial and error will be involved in mixing your own ultramarine blue out of the existing paints your have at home.
In addition to this, due to ultramarine blue being based around the lapiz lazuli gemstone it is surprisingly difficult to get the exact color of ultramarine blue with other colors due to the lack of the lapiz lazuli and its unique tint. That said though, if you are not able to just purchase some ultramarine blue paint and have to make do with mixing existing colors, you can get close enough for the majority of our readers to be happy enough to make do.
How To Make Ultramarine Blue Pigment At Home?
As we touched on above, ultramarine blue pigment is created by grinding the lapiz lazuli gemstone into a fine pigment and then adding it to your paint medium of choice. Now, you have to be sure to purchase high-quality lapiz lazuli if you are wanting to make your own ultramarine blue pigment as low quality stones often have impurities in them as well as hints of grey. Although these low-quality crystals can be used, the pigment they create is actually a hue called ultramarine ash, not ultramarine blue.
The sample above shows the different grades that you are able to get with true ultramarine blue in the top left working its way through to ultramarine ash in the bottom right. Using low-quality lapiz lazuli for your pigment will usually get you somewhere between the top left and around the middle rather than anything close to the bottom right though. High-quality stones can be difficult to source and are usually around double the price of general use stones that most people use.
The process for creating your own pigment is the same no matter the quality of stones and is as follows:-
- Crush up your lapiz lazuli stones and get them as fine as possible for use as a pigment. This in itself is a challange but breaking the process down into three different stages does tend to be the best option for most people. First, focus on breaking your stones down to around the size of a small marble with larger tools usually being best for this task. Next work on grinding each of the marble size stones down until you have particles around the size of sugar. Finally, use a pestle and mortar to grind the sugar sizes particles down until they are at least the size of flour.
- Although this step is not essential, some people do put the extra time and effort in to keep grinding their particles until they are even finer than flour but this does increase your workload. If you are looking to make an oil paint with your ultramarine blue pigment then this step can drastically improve your end result though.
- At this stage you do need to clean your ground up lapiz lazuli to do your best to remove any impurities from it prior to adding it to your paint medium. To do this, you are able to take a jar or bowl, add a little water to it and add a small amount of lye or sodium bicarbonate (water will often do just fine if you don’t have them to hand). Next slowly pour your ground up lapiz lazuli into the water solution in stages to prevent issues with it turning to dust and blowing around your room rather than going into your water.
- Next up you have to mix your lapiz lazuli particles with the water but an old spoon tends to do just fine with this. When mixing, you may find that some impurities from the lapiz lazuli float to the top of the water. Do your best to remove these at this stage if possible as they can cause issues in your paint medium later.
- Once your lapiz lazuli has settled to the bottom of the jar or bowl, it is time to filter the water off. There are a number of ways that you are able to do this but many people just use standard coffee filters due to them being so cheap. Depending on the quality of the lapiz lazuli you used you may have to repeat steps four and five until you have a consistent blue after filtering the water off from your lapiz lazuli particles.
- Although some people leave their lapiz lazuli in their coffee filter to dry, it does tend to be much faster if you place it on a plate spread into a thin layer. Once dry, you have your ultramarine blue pigment that you are then able to add to your paint medium to use in your arts and crafts. As you should be using a different medium for each paint type, we will offer specific guidance below for each different type of paint and ink.
As you can imagine, the process covered above takes a surprising amount of time, costs you money, and has a level of risk in it as it can be hard to remove some of the impurities that cause ultramarine ash without specialist equipment. If you aren’t able to purchase a decent commercial Ultramarine blue paint then you can often just use a cheap, commercial Ultramarine blue pigment and save yourself the hassle.
How To Make Ultramarine Blue Acrylic Paint!
Making your own ultramarine blue acrylic paint is as simple as adding your Ultramarine blue pigment to a relevant medium such as clear gesso acrylic and then mixing it correctly. Mixing acrylic is easier than some of the other popular paint types and you can usually mix the paint well enough to offer decent performance with just a spoon and some people put the pigment and the gesso in a bottle and just shake it.
The hardest part of the process is actually making your pigment as we explained above and this is why so many people just purchase a pre-made Ultramarine blue acrylic paint or a commercial pigment to save them the issues of making the pigment themselves. Provided that your pigment is fine enough, it will suspend in the acrylic giving an even spread of the pigment on your paper or canvas and dry correctly.
How To Make Ultramarine Blue Oil Paint!
Making your own ultramarine blue oil paint at home is very easy as you just add your Ultramarine blue pigment to a medium with products such as regular lintseed oil often being used to keep costs low while performing very well. Although there are dedicated oil paint mediums on the market, they tend to be expensive when compared to things like lintseed oil while only performing marginally better.
Due to this, we would recommend that our readers just use lintseed oil as their paint medium for their homemade ultramarine blue paint. Again, the pigment granuals have to be as fine as possible to suspend correctly in any oil paint medium that you use so this is a crucial part that many people make mistakes with. We would also recommend that you slowly add your pigment to your oil medium as it is suprising how little pigment you actually need in your oil paints for a solid, well balanced color and too much pigment can cause problems with the paint drying correctly.
Due to making your own pigment being a pain and often expensive as well as the potential issues with mixing your pigment with your oil paint, we usually just recommend our readers go with a commercial Ultramarine blue oil paint. It will almost always be easier, cheaper, and product more consistent results for your artwork.
How To Make Ultramarine Blue Watercolor!
Although some people do make their own watercolor paints at home, we feel that it is actually the hardest type of paint to make yourself as getting your Ultramarine blue pigment to set in the gum Arabic is a nightmare to do correctly. It is common that the pigment will not be consistent throughout the gum arabic and end up with an inconsistent result when applying the paint to your canvas or paper.
Getting the gum arabic to work well as a watercolor can be an issue too and although there are other mediums that you could use, they tend to be considerably more expensive. Unlike acrylic and oil paints covered above that tend to be on the easier side of things, it is almost always a better option to just go with a commercial Ultramarine blue watercolor and not even try to make your own.
How To Make Ultramarine Blue Ink!
When making your own homemade ultramarine blue ink, your Ultramarine pigment has to be even finer than when making your own paints for use with pens. Although they can perform well with calligraphy and dip pens, your gum Arabic that suspends the pigment also has to be extremely runny too making it difficult to use with something like a fountain pen.
If you are using an entry-level fountain pen then you can try your own homemade inks with the pen due to it having a low price tag but if you have a decent intermediate level fountain pen or a premium level fountain pen we wouldn’t even risk it. Homemade inks are notorious for causing blockages in your pens feed and overall ink path and if the consistency of your ink medium is not correct then it is a pain to clear with a flush kit.
If you are using a more expensive fountain pen then just go with a commercial Ultramarine blue ink as it will usually workout to be a similar price to making your own ink but not have the risk of blocking your ink path. If you are using a fountain pen worth hundreds of dollars than it simply is not worth the risk to use homemade inks with it.
That brings our article going over how you are able to make your own ultramarine blue pigment, paint, and ink at home to a close. As we have pointed out a few times throughout the article, it is usually better to just go with a commercial paint or ink option that is ultramarine than to make your own. You can also get a shade very close to ultramarine blue by mixing some existing colors in your paint collection too as covered earlier in the article that tends to be a better option than making your own pigments too.