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Red Dyes and Pigments (resource)

Click on the image of a dye or pigment to learn more about it.

Seeing Red Glossary


Dye vs. Pigment

Dyes soak in. Pigments sit on top.

Dyes change the color of something by soaking into it. Pigment gives an object color by coating it. A dye soaks into cloth and through all its fibers. Pigments, in the form of paint, sit on a surface in a thin film. An effective paint pigment needs to be dense, so a thin film of it can hide what’s underneath. Dye is too thin for this. A dye can be made into a pigment by dyeing a colorless particle (such as chalk or alum). A pigment made from a dye is called a “lake.” Pigment is mixed into a medium like oil, glue, egg, or watercolor gum to make paint.


Organic: Of, relating to, or containing carbon compounds. Of, relating to, or derived from living organisms (plants or animals).

Inorganic: Being or composed of matter that does not come from plants or animals either alive or dead.

Natural: Existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind.

Synthetic: Made by chemical synthesis, especially to imitate a natural product. Made by humankind.