Photographs by Frank

12 July 2022

Paprika, Red Cabbage & Turmeric Anthotypes

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Anthotype — Frank @ 3:30 PM

About a year ago, I made a series of anthotypes* using an extract of turmeric (see: post 1, post 2, and post 3).

Turmeric is a commonly used material for making anthtotypes. However, in anticipation of the inaugural World Anthotype Day I have spent the past week or so experimenting with making anthotypes with less commonly used materials as the source of pigment. Specifically, I made images with both a water-based extract of red cabbage and an organic solvent-based extract of paprika.

With the red cabbage I am able to make both blue and pink (think of the colors associated with newborn babies) images. However, these images (not shown) are of low contrast as the starting colors are fairly pale.

Additionally, the exposures required are long… think multiple days in the sun. Having long stretches of bright sunny days is not typical New Hampshire weather even in July. So I am not sure how practical this process would be. Furthermore, I am not a particularly patient soul. Lastly, baby blue and baby pink are just not colors that I am particularly fond of.

Thus, I don’t think that I will be pursuing red cabbage anthotypes much further.

However, I have been getting very nice results using an orange-yellow pigment extracted from paprika with an organic solvent. For my first attempts I used rubbing alcohol (iso-propanol) which is the solvent of choice for making turmeric anthotypes. I was able to make images with very short (for anthotypes) exposures (e.g. an hour or less). The images were fairly low contrast as the initial extract was not particularly dark. The chemist in me thought that using a less polar solvent might give better results and thus I tried making an extract of paprika using mineral spirits**. This worked like a charm. The details of my procedure and the results of my experiments can be found in this pdf file.

Shown below are two successful paprika anthotypes (exposure time 45-60 min in full July sun) and two new turmeric anthotypes (exposure time 5-6 hours).

The first image is on a nice warm Strathmore Series 400 drawing paper. The remaining three images are on Strathmore Vision drawing paper.

The turmeric images were sprayed with 5% sodium carbonate (washing soda) in order to stabilize them and to increase the contrast. The paprika images were sprayed with an acrylic fixative in order to stabilize them.

NextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnail
Paprika Anthotype #1
Paprika Anthotype #1
Paprika Anthotype #2
Paprika Anthotype #2
Turmeric Anthotype #1
Turmeric Anthotype #1
Turmeric Anthotype #2
Turmeric Anthotype #2

* Anthotypes are images made using plant-derived pigments. One makes an extract of some colored plant part (often petals from a flower) and coats paper with the extract. When the paper is dry, one places objects (or, less commonly, a positive transparency) on the paper and then places a piece of glass atop the objects. This “sandwich” is the placed in a sunny spot and left for a period of time… certainly hours and often days. The sunlight fades the pigment and one is left which an image formed by the shadow of the objects you placed on the paper.

** Mineral spirits are easily available at the hardware store as they are used for thinning and cleaning up when using oil-based paints.


  1. Most interesting! They have that classic antique look as if they were processed decades ago. I think you are on to something here. Since the paprika appears to be working why not focus on that medium for future images. Or, not.

    Comment by Joe Kennedy — 12 July 2022 @ 7:55 PM

  2. This makes me very happy (and those ingredients make me a little hungry too).

    Comment by Vaune — 13 July 2022 @ 8:21 AM

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