Neutral Gray Number 9

If comparing GOLDEN’s Neutral Gray series to the Munsell® Grey Scale that they are based on, you might quickly realize that one step is missing – namely N9, the Munsell® gray that is one step below pure white. And clearly the natural question is why?

When the Neutral Grays were first created it was felt that N9 was such a light gray, and so easily approximated by a blend of N8 and Titanium White, that adding it to the series did not provide a lot of value in terms of meeting customer demand. While that has proven fairly true over the years, the question actually does come up from time to time.

If you are an enthusiast or follower of the Munsell® system, and need this color for your work, there are a couple of approaches one can take depending on just how exact you need the match to be. Our Custom Lab, for example, can create almost any color you can imagine in a very precise, controlled, and repeatable way. However, this could add both color matching and custom mixing fees, so not always a good fit if you just need a small amount or have to create some on the fly. For those occasions, getting close might very well be close enough. In that case, as you can see in the accompanying image, a blend of seven parts Titanium White to one part Neutral Gray 8 can get you very close to Munsell® N9.


Image 1 – Showing a side by side drawdown of GOLDEN N8 Neutral Gray, Titanium White, and between them, a 7:1 blend of GOLDEN Titanium White to GOLDEN N8 Neutral Gray. The scale shown underneath is an official Munsell® Neutral Value Scale, Matte Edition.

4 Responses to Neutral Gray Number 9

  1. Jesse Waugh September 2, 2016 at 4:50 pm #

    I just got the full set of Neutral Gray series acrylics to experiment with underpainting, then I’ll be using the Williamsburg Oils Neutral Grays for glazing subtler values on top of the acrylics.

    I’m glad to have found this post as it describes blending 7 parts titanium white to 1 part N8 for the acrylic.

    Have you by any chance determined the blend ratio for the Williamsburg neutral gray oils as well to approximate N3, N7 and N9? It may save me paint to know – as I’ve been sort of mixing blindly and usually end up with too much paint on the palette.

    I for one would happily buy full sets if GOLDEN / Williamsburg ever decide to add the missing N values.

    • Sarah Sands September 6, 2016 at 10:16 am #

      Hi Jesse – Unfortunately we have not worked out similar ratios for the Williamsburg line, and of course they would likely be different given the change in pigment load when moving between oils and acrylics. It might be something we could do for a follow-up post and I will put that topic on the list of ones to consider. In the meantime, if you can keep good notes and especially if you can work with a gram scale to track things, you might be able to get approximate ratios you can repeat. Also, just so you know, we did receive your email about the potential for Custom Grays that could be made, and the Custom Lab said they will be reaching out to you soon.

      • Jesse Waugh September 23, 2016 at 7:02 am #

        Thank you Sarah – I am working with the GOLDEN Neutral Grays right now for an underpainting. It’s the first time I’ve fully endeavored to try acrylic in a realist painting, and it’s nice that it dries fast. I’m finding that it leaves much thicker – almost impasto – brush strokes than oil, but if I dilute them with water it helps a bit, and still covers adequately (for an underpainting).

        I received the quote for custom mixed N-value grays, and am glad you offer that service. Hopefully I’ll be able to take advantage of that potential sooner than later.

        I have a feeling grisaille underpainting is having a bit of a resurgence right now, which hopefully might provide an impetus for GOLDEN / Williamsburg and other companies to release full Munsell sets in the future. This is not to diminish the importance of your current offerings – which are the best on the market, and a major time and money saver – and without which I would probably not have the patience to paint the way I’m painting – so thanks!

        • Sarah Sands September 23, 2016 at 11:29 am #

          Hi Jesse –

          Glad the Neutral Grays in the Golden acrylics are useful. And yes, adding water can help with the leveling, and if you play around with which brushes you use – acrylics are often better handled with synthetic ones – that might further reduce the brushstrokes. We have definitely sensed the increase in interest with grisaille as a technique, and with folks wanting Munsell-based systems, so know at least that we are aware and will continue to see what is the best way we can assist people. If not with products right away, then at least perhaps with some articles on how to work with the products we do have.

          In any case, let us know how things go and if we can help further just ask!

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