Pyrrole Red Substitute: The Best Alternative Reds to PR 255 Listed 

Summary: Pyrrole Red (PR 255) is a popular pigment used in painting known for its bright red color, lightfastness, and transparency.

But for artists who mix their own pigments or are struggling to find a comparable match, artists may need to find a Pyrrole Red substitute. Substitutes can be more affordable and offer a range of colors for creativity.

Some popular substitutes include:

  • Cadmium Red Medium (PR 108)
  • Alizarin Crimson Hue (PR 83)
  • Quinacridone Red (PR 209)
  • Napthol Crimson (PR 171). 

When choosing a substitute, factors like opacity and lightfastness should be considered. 

Different pigments like Cadmium Red (PR 108) and Quinacridones can be compared to Pyrrole Red, but they may have slight differences in hue or saturation. 

For those who do not know, PR codes are universal Pigment Red codes.

Artists should experiment and use color charts to find the right substitute that fits their needs.

Substitutes are available for different paint types like acrylics, Liquitex Basics, and craft paint, each offering their own options. 

Finding the perfect Pyrrole Red substitute requires patience, experimentation, and consideration of factors such as transparency, hue, and how it interacts with other colors.

What is Pyrrole Red?

You may have heard of Pyrrole Red, a popular pigment used in painting. This bright, fiery red color is known for its excellent lightfastness and transparency, making it a favorite among artists. But I will bet you that you have probably seen Pyrrole Red and not know it.

Pyrrole Red was used in the first Ferrari Testarossa in 1984, which became an iconic symbol of luxury and speed. Since then, Pyrrole Red has become a popular pigment in the art world, particularly in oil and acrylic painting.

Pyrrole Red

I came about looking for a pyrrole red substitute when I was coloring a drawing of a Ferrari and noticed that none of the Copic markers in my range had a red that matched. I was forced to use another type of red that came close – Cadmium Red mixed with a little dark orange.

Let’s explore what Pyrrole Red is and its history in the art world.


Pyrrole Red is a synthetic organic pigment made from pyrrole, a five-membered aromatic ring. This pigment is known for its bright, warm, and fiery red color, which ranges from mid to deep tones.

Pyrrole Red is often used as a substitute for Cadmium Red, a toxic pigment that is banned in some countries due to its harmful effects. Pyrrole Red is also known for its excellent lightfastness, which means it does not fade over time when exposed to light.

It is available in all mediums, from Acrylics to Oils to Watercolors and the like.

History of Pyrrole Red

Pyrrole Red (also known as Ferrari Red) was first discovered accidentally in 1974 by a chemistry professor named Donald G. Farnum at Michigan State University. Farnum was not looking to produce this pigment, but he soon realized its potential for the automotive industry. 

Pyrrole Red is a necessary pigment for any artist looking to achieve a bright and fiery red color in their artwork.

Its history in the automotive industry and its excellent lightfastness make it a popular choice among artists. Be careful when using Pyrrole Red as it is a staining pigment that can be difficult to remove from brushes and clothing.

Why Use a Pyrrole Red Substitute?

As an artist, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to use a substitute for Pyrrole Red.

This could be due to the unavailability of the pigment, cost, or personal preference. Regardless of the reason, it is important to understand the benefits and disadvantages of using a substitute.


One of the main benefits of using a Pyrrole Red substitute is cost. Pyrrole Red can be a pricey pigment, and substitutes can be much more affordable. Additionally, some substitutes may have similar or even better lightfastness ratings than Pyrrole Red.

Another benefit is the range of colors available. Pyrrole Red substitutes come in a variety of hues, from bright oranges to deep violets. This gives you more options for color mixing and allows for more creativity in your artwork.


One disadvantage of using a Pyrrole Red substitute is that it may not have the same characteristics as the original pigment.

For example, a substitute may not be as transparent or have the same staining properties as Pyrrole Red. This can affect how the paint behaves on the canvas and how it interacts with other colors.

Another disadvantage is that the color may not be an exact match. While some substitutes may be very close to Pyrrole Red, others may have a slightly different hue or saturation. This can be a challenge when trying to match colors in a painting or when using a specific color palette.

Overall, using a Pyrrole Red substitute can be a key tool in your artistic arsenal. Just be careful to choose a substitute that fits your needs and matches your artistic vision.

Popular Pyrrole Red Substitutes

As a visual artist, finding the perfect substitute for pyrrole red can be a challenging task. It is essential to find the right color to achieve the desired result in your artwork. Here are some popular substitutes for pyrrole red that you can use in your artwork.

Pyrrole Red Substitutes

If you’re looking for a red substitute for pyrrole red, consider using Quinacridone Red or Napthol Red. Quinacridone Red has a similar hue to pyrrole red and is known for its transparency and intensity.

Napthol Red, on the other hand, is a bit darker and has a more opaque quality.

Comparison with Other Pigments

When it comes to finding a substitute for Pyrrole Red, there are several other pigments you can consider. Let’s take a look at some of the most common substitutes and compare them to Pyrrole Red.


Cadmium Red is a popular choice for many artists as it is probably one of the most easiest types of red you can find across many mediums. But it’s important to note that it is not a direct substitute for Pyrrole Red.

Cadmium Red is warmer and has a more orange undertone, whereas Pyrrole Red is cooler and has a pinkish undertone. If you are looking for a Pyrrole red then Cadmium Red Light Hue or Vivid Red Orange might be a better option.

Pyrrole red vs cadmium red hue


Quinacridones are another popular pigment that can be used as a substitute for Pyrrole Red. While many say that Quinacridone Red is a good choice I find that it is a little too dark.

Pyrrole red vs quinacridone red

Cadmium Red Medium (PR 108)

Cadmium Red Medium Hue is a good substitute for Pyrrole Red in terms of color, but it is not as lightfast. If you are going to be working on an image that will definitely be exposed to a lot of direct sunlight, it will be best to choose a different pigment.

I actually think this is the best alternative. What do you think?

Pyrrole Red vs Cadmium Red Medium

Alizarin Crimson Hue (PR 83)

Alizarin Crimson Hue is a good pigment to use when creating a substitute for Pyrrole Red.

Pyrrole red vs Alizarin Crimson Hue

Naphthol Crimson (PR 171)

Naphthol Crimson is also a pretty good pigment that you could use as a Pyrrole red substitute.

Pyrrole red vs naphthol crimson

Choosing the Right Substitute

When it comes to substituting Pyrrole Red, there are some factors to consider to ensure that you choose the right substitute. Here are some of the key things to keep in mind:


Another thing to consider when choosing a substitute for Pyrrole Red is opacity. Pyrrole Red is a transparent color, which means that it allows light to pass through it and reflect off the paper or canvas.

If you’re looking for a substitute that has similar opacity, you may want to consider colors like Quinacridone Red or Cadmium Red, which are also transparent.


Another important factor to consider when choosing a substitute for Pyrrole Red is lightfastness. Lightfastness refers to how well a color holds up over time when exposed to light.

Pyrrole Red is known for its excellent lightfastness, so if you’re looking for a substitute that will also hold up well over time, you may want to consider colors like Quinacridone Red or Permanent Alizarin Crimson, which are also known for their lightfastness.

Find Some Color Charts

Color charts can also be a useful tool when choosing a substitute for Pyrrole Red. Many paint manufacturers provide color charts that show the different shades and hues of their colors, as well as their opacity and lightfastness ratings. 

By comparing these charts, you can get a better idea of which colors might work as substitutes for Pyrrole Red.

When using a color chart, be sure to pay attention to the specific brand and line of paint you’re using, as different brands and lines may have slightly different shades and hues. 

Additionally, keep in mind that color charts are just a starting point, and that the best way to find the right substitute for Pyrrole Red is to experiment with different colors and see what works best for you.

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