36 Shades of Grey

Oct 09

36 Shades of Grey

Want to learn more about our favorite middle child, Grey? Then Prismacolor artist, Shelley Minnis has some information on all the shades of grey that Prismacolor offers as well as some fun facts about the color!

Get your grey on!

Seeing as we recently introduced our new Grey Marker Sets we thought it would be a fun exercise to educate our favorite fans on the different kinds of Grey Prismacolor Marker products available and offer up a bit of trivia about the color grey, too!

Fun Fact #1:  Grey was first recorded as a color name in AD 700.

Identified as the variation of color between “black and white,” it can vary in value depending on how close to the black or the white it is.

Fun Fact #2: Grey was often associated with undyed cloth. The more neutral or bland color was often worn by the peasant class unlike those who could afford the more lavish colors of the aristocracy.

Fun Fact #3: Early Monks donned themselves in clothing that was very neutral in color and were known as “Grey Friars.” There are numerous paintings of Friars wearing grey robes, such as the piece by El Greco (seen below) and the famous painting by James McNeil Whistler, “Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1″ or better known as “Whistlers Mother.”

Whistler’s Mother

El Greco


Fun Fact #4: Many artists use an underlying coloring of Grey which is called “grisaille” to establish the values of darks and light in their paintings before they added color.

One of the reasons that I think art is so amazing is that to  an artist an image is not just BLACK and WHITE, but made up of all  the nuances of color, the lack thereof and  all values in between:  all shades of GREY!

Now, let’s look at what Prismacolor can offer those who love grey as much as I do!

36 Shades of Grey Explained: Cool, Warm, Neutral and French Grey

With an offering of a variety of Warm Greys, Cool Greys, French Greys and now Neutral Greys, there are a total of 36 shades to choose from. But how do you know which is right for your project? Well, let’s take a look!

Each group is broken down in percentages: 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%,50%,60%,70%,80% and 90% with several Blacks to round out the offering; Black, Jet Black and Warm Black.

These garlic images, done with Prismacolor Brush|Fine Markers illustrate the key difference in the four different shades.

French Grey: a light greenish gray that is bluer and duller than ash gray or lichen green

Cool Grey: A scale of grey with a light blue cast

Warm Grey: A scale of grey with a hint of red that makes the light greys look a bit pink or lavender

Neutral Grey: A subtle change from pure black to a progressively lighter softer tone with no hint of blue or red.

All together, now!

As you are getting accustomed to the different values, I recommend creating a color chart with each assigned value to have readily available as you were working on your next piece!

Good luck and be sure to comment and let us know how are you using your Prismacolor Grey sets!

Submitted by Shelley Minnis


  1. Diana Garrett /

    Great info Shelley! I loved the history of grey.

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