I started to draw and paint this famous historical picture of Raising a flag over the Reichstag Berlin 1945, and I am stuck with the red flag and blue haze in the far background:

Raising a flag over the Reichstag Berlin 1945

I am using FaberCastell Polychromos 120 pencils:

FaberCastell Polychromos 120

I have spent hours of trial and error, using GIMP on Mac OS X, but continue to have difficulty with:

  • the entire red flag
  • the blue and gray haze in the far background

I was wondering whether someone could help me choose the right colors. Any advice would be appreciated.

  • 3
    This question might be better reworded to be more of a "How do I select a Faber-Castell Polychromos color based on an existing image?" That way the advice offered would help in the general color-matching process.
    – user24
    Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 18:24
  • 1
    Reference for anyone who might answer: that pack is all 120 hues available [PDF]
    – user24
    Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 18:30
  • 1
    While the "how to pick the right pencil colour" part makes for an interesting question (+1), it might be interesting to remember that the original photo is black & white, so one could argue that there is lots of room for artistic interpretation of "the right colour".
    – Stephie
    Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 21:29
  • Since you have an answer to your question before the edit, editing should not change the question so much that it invalidates the answer. As a side note, did you try the scratch paper tests John recommended?
    – user24
    Commented Dec 31, 2016 at 16:46
  • Yes I tried so much with no success. I changed the question title because you asked me to do so and I am a newbie here on Arts & Crafts. My real question was that one I posted first Commented Dec 31, 2016 at 17:21

2 Answers 2


There are a couple of ways that you can go about matching...

The first is trial and error testing on scrap paper. It's tried and true, really, because all you do is look at the color options in your set and get close, then work with additional blending with other colors to match up. Take notes. :)

The more "scientific" way is to use an application like Photoshop, The GIMP, or similar that you can use to color sample. Use the color sampler tool to get the value of the color and match it up with this chart: http://colour.granjow.net/fabercastell-polychromos.html and test the result on scrap paper.

Bear in mind that in many cases, you're likely to be layering one color over another, so the sampler may not always be accurate. Test and use your own judgement, always, before applying to your art piece. Make sure your scrap paper is the same as the paper you're using for your work.

  • 1
    To add to this answer, you can create custom palettes in GIMP and other image software to narrow down the available colours. Then you can apply that palette to the image and it will choose the closest colour. It will also choose a combination of colours if there isn't a single closest match. Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 20:10
  • Thanks for you answer and the comment provided by @TaraHanratty, I installed the GIMP on Mac OS, but I do not know how can I extract layered colors on GIMP. Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 21:57
  • 1
    @Trix Graphic Design might be able to help you with the how-to on using GIMP for sampling.
    – user24
    Commented Dec 31, 2016 at 1:54

I know this is 4 years old thread, but if this helps anyone, based on scanning and sampling I got the below:

101 White (RGB): #f5f7fb
102 Cream (RGB): #f2f3b9
103 Ivory (RGB): #f2f4e6
104 Light Yellow Glaze (RGB): #feff5b
105 Light Cadmium Yellow (RGB): #fefd5c
106 Light Chrome Yellow (RGB): #fdf861
107 Cadmium Yellow (RGB): #fef638
108 Dark Cadmium Yellow (RGB): #f2b821
109 Dark Chrome Yellow (RGB): #e9a041
110 Phthalo Blue (RGB): #128de4
111 Cadmium Orange (RGB): #e7884c
112 Leaf Green (RGB): #17c743
113 Orange Glaze (RGB): #ea5749
115 Dark Cadmium Orange (RGB): #ea584a
117 Light Cadmium red (RGB): #eb4e57
118 Scarlet Red (RGB): #e03d5b
119 Light Magenta (RGB): #df9ce4
120 Ultramarine (RGB): #5d81ee
121 Pale Geranium Lake (RGB): #e4335a
123 Fuchsia (RGB): #db439f
124 Rose Carmine (RGB): #e25c8a
125 Middle Purple Pink (RGB): #d13da6
126 Permanent Carmine (RGB): #d42758
127 Pink Carmine (RGB): #dd4584
128 Light Purple Pink (RGB): #e05bb1
129 Pink Madder Lake (RGB): #e37ec2
130 Dark Flesh (RGB): #e684a5
131 Medium Flesh (RGB): #dd7b89
132 Light Flesh (RGB): #e5bbb2
133 Magenta (RGB): #aa4069
134 Crimson (RGB): #b85bba
135 Light Red-Violet (RGB): #a358a9
136 Purple Violet (RGB): #7f4cc6
137 Blue Violet (RGB): #6345c5
138 Violet (RGB): #9f6dd8
140 Light Ultramarine (RGB): #86adf8
141 Delft Blue (RGB): #4835aa
142 Madder (RGB): #ce4f77
143 Cobalt Blue (RGB): #0a7dd5
144 Cobalt Blue-Greenish (RGB): #0b70cb
145 Light Phthalo Blue (RGB): #68bcf8
146 Smalt Blue (RGB): #87b1f8
149 Bluish Turquoise (RGB): #077dc0
151 Helioblue-Reddish (RGB): #2579d4
152 Middle Phthalo Blue (RGB): #0a91e7
153 Cobalt Turquoise (RGB): #078eb0
154 Light Cobalt Turquoise (RGB): #69d1e9
155 Helio Turquoise (RGB): #0d7f92
156 Cobalt Green (RGB): #23bdc9
157 Dark Indigo (RGB): #3c4b65
158 Deep Cobalt Green (RGB): #177f71
159 Hooker's Green (RGB): #2c9d68
160 Manganese Violet (RGB): #9954b8
161 Phthalo Green (RGB): #01ae8b
162 Light Phthalo Green (RGB): #1ad396
163 Emerald Green (RGB): #0cc98b
165 Juniper Green (RGB): #43865f
166 Grass Green (RGB): #6ad94e
167 Permanent Green Olive (RGB): #67983b
168 Earth Green Yellowish (RGB): #a6c565
169 Caput Mortuum (RGB): #8c5156
170 May Green (RGB): #bedb62
171 Light Green (RGB): #9fe56a
172 Earth Green (RGB): #879f85
173 Olive Green Yellowish (RGB): #71724a
174 Chrome Green Opaque (RGB): #738454
175 Sepia (RGB): #5d5556
176 Van Dyck Brown (RGB): #765e5b
177 Walnut Brown (RGB): #655051
178 Nougat (RGB): #947362
179 Bistre (RGB): #8f6745
180 Raw Umber (RGB): #a1713f
181 Payne's Gray (RGB): #5f6168
182 Brown Ochre (RGB): #af7a42
183 Light Yellow Ochre (RGB): #e0b536
184 Dark Naples Ochre (RGB): #f9e065
185 Naples Yellow (RGB): #fdee5e
186 Terracotta (RGB): #d69f6a
187 Burnt Ochre (RGB): #c6864f
188 Sanguine (RGB): #c55948
189 Cinnamon (RGB): #d59992
190 Venetian Red (RGB): #cb6361
191 Pompeian Red (RGB): #d35e70
192 Indian Red (RGB): #a54851
193 Burnt Carmine (RGB): #a24e6b
194 Red-Violet (RGB): #904a6a
199 Black (RGB): #4d4c51
205 Cadmium Yellow Lemon (RGB): #f6fe4c
217 Middle Cadmium Red (RGB): #c14149
219 Deep Scarlet Red (RGB): #d92c56
223 Deep Red (RGB): #de4f64
225 Dark Red (RGB): #b03d4c
226 Alizarin Crimson (RGB): #d42e64
230 Cold Gray I (RGB): #d4dbe5
231 Cold Gray II (RGB): #c8cfd8
232 Cold Gray III (RGB): #a0a8b2
233 Cold Gray IV (RGB): #97989d
234 Cold Gray U (RGB): #8d8f95
235 Cold Gray VI (RGB): #5d5e62
246 Prussian Blue (RGB): #216da6
247 Indanthrene Blue (RGB): #354491
249 Mauve (RGB): #6f49c2
250 Gold (RGB): #aba99f
251 Silver (RGB): #b4bbc9
252 Copper (RGB): #9e968f
263 Caput Mortuum Violet (RGB): #83515a
264 Dark Phthalo Green (RGB): #06a474
266 Permanent Green (RGB): #0b9a3c
267 Pine Green (RGB): #286d40
268 Green Gold (RGB): #c7a539
270 Warm Gray I (RGB): #d3d4d6
271 Warm Gray II (RGB): #c7c7c7
272 Warm Gray III (RGB): #a9a8a8
273 Warm Gray IV (RGB): #7d7b7c
274 Warm Gray V (RGB): #5c5a5d
275 Warm Gray VI (RGB): #444346
276 Chrome Oxide Green Fiery (RGB): #01a07c
278 Chrome Oxide Green (RGB): #395d43
280 Burnt Umber (RGB): #75554a
283 Burnt Sienna (RGB): #8d6356
  • 1
    These are the HEX codes of the Polychromos palette? What method did you use to get these?
    – Joachim
    Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 8:34
  • 2
    I've coloured samples on plain white, scan with no colour correction, Adobe Colour/Photoshop Sampling with 11x11 pixel area. One thing to be aware of is that not all pencils cover consistently. I was just thinking yesterday about trying to see where the biggest differences are in both colour coverage and also the colour of the pencil cover v. pigment? Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 13:19
  • There are a lot of things that change colours within this process (I know, since I've undertaken a similar enterprise with oil paints): the scanner interprets the colours, the software interprets the colour, 'plain white' paper is still too loose a definition, and the conversion from one file type to another will usually change the colour range. I have an X-Rite ColorChecker Passport that I used to get a proper white balance to have slightly more control over the process - do you use something similar?
    – Joachim
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 14:57
  • As to your question: averaging 11 x 11 pixels based on a sample with inconsistent coverage, although inevitable, will indeed diminish the intensity or purity of the sample, so these HEX values are likely tinted versions.
    – Joachim
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 18:58
  • 2
    Thanks Joachim, agreed on both points that's by black didn't even come out darkest. I'm only too well aware of colour process, but don't own own any specialist equipment. Sorry - take it as a best approximation :) Commented Jan 4, 2021 at 18:42

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