Introduction: Pigment Dyes With Metal DMG Complexes for Painting and Using Other Dyes for Framed Painting Art.

About: I am a part-time hobbyists biotechnologist with a photonics background. I also have a YouTube channel too. I work full time now.

Many ammonia and nitrogen-based chemicals mixed with metals salts (cobalt, iron, nickel, chromium Cr+3, Manganese (from Manganese sulfate), copper salts and other salts can produce very pretty complexes that are actually a pigment made from Metals (Metal salts).

You are prob asking what is DMG? Dimethylglyoxime for short is a complex that mixes with salts and forms different complexes. Some with iron Fe+3 go from brown to yellow with Fe+2 when acid, base, and alcohol is added with DMG.

Obviously from websites from Science pages, they Only mentioned Nickel, Palladium, and Cobalt work but other metal salts may as well.

By trial and error and trying different solvents Alcohol (Isoproponal and Ethanol), Methanol may work but I am not sure about it since I have not tested it dissolves DMG nicely. Ethanol apparently works better but may change the complex made.

I found Nickel (Ni+2), Copper(Cu+2), Manganese (Mn+2), Cobalt (Co+2), Iron (Fe+3), etc may work very well for making pigments with DMG and the appropriate solvent as discussed before.

Making Nickel DMG complex video as a theory part.

Some more links I will describe somewhat the mechanism of DMG to metal complexes.

Warnings and Precautions.

Be prudent with concentrated Hydrochloric acid (especially at high concentrations), Ammonia hydroxide is corrosive and releases irritating ammonia vapors. Nickel salts are toxic and carcinogenic. Iron salts are toxic, Magnase salts are toxic and irritating. Copper salts are toxic too, etc.

DMG is a toxic and flammable solid so be careful and keep it away from flames and excessive heat. Isopropanol and Ethanol are toxic, irritating, and flammable.

Please wear gloves while working with these chemicals.

Vanadium salts are quite toxic. Vanadium Pentoxide powder is very toxic by inhalation and slightly by ingestion wear an N95 mask to avoid breathing in any dust.



Hot plate and magnetic stirrer or stirrer

Very clean beaker, flasks, and a good Digital scale (Jewelry Scale) 500 g plus or minus 0.1 g to 1000 g plus or minus 0.001 g min.

Stir bars.

PE bottles

Glass pipettes 10 ml for some of the materials like adding the Hydrochloric acid

Plastic disposable pipettes.

HDPE bottles


DMG 99.99 percent eBay (check there).

Ethanol 88 percent to 99 percent (without water) (Important) Local lab company or eBay.

Isopropyl Alcohol 99-100 percent - see ethanol for availability.

Hydrochloric acid 31 percent (Note 25 percent may do but you may have to increase the volume by 1.24 times.

Ammonia 28-30 percent (Ammonia hydroxide).

98 percent Acetic acid for the Vanadium Part.

Metal salts-------etc....

Chromium (III) Chloride.

Zinc powder.

Cobalt (II) Chloride.

Iron (III) chloride

Manganese (II) sulfate

Nickel (II) chloride

Or Ammonia Nickel sulfate.

Vanadium Pentoxide

Potassium Hydroxide.

Other dyes

Methylene blue

Crystal violet

Carbonyl fushol (Acid-fast stain).

Step 1: Preparation of Nickel DMG Complex.

DMG is quite soluble in ethanol and moderately soluble in Isoproponal alcohol and Methanol. One neat trick is to add to a round bottom flask (500 ml) half 200 ml of ethanol without water to about 3.5 g of DMG.

Weigh out with scale boats 3.5 g DMG and make another mixture of 3g or so of Nickel (II) Chloride to 200 ml of water with 4 ml of Hydrochloric acid (HCl). Then add the two mixtures together and add 15-20 ml of Ammonia Hydroxide (28 percent in this case) to make a buffer solution of Ammonia chloride and ammonia hydroxide.

Important Sodium hydroxide and Potassium hydroxide as bases are too strong their pH of 14 for 1 mole means they will cause the prep to crash out and fail compared to ph 5-9 range Ammonia hydroxide.

Here some videos of DMG

They can be added as a Pink cherry red pigment and with disposable pipettes, you can drop it onto paper.

Step 2: Making Zinc DMG Complex.

Around 10 g of zinc metal powder, it works the best is added to 200 ml of water and 100 ml of Hydrochloric acid is added.

Warning the zinc will release steam, hydrogen gas and some hydrochloric acid so do this in a well-ventilated area and do not inhale the vapours it a vigorous reaction that got to 60 degrees C and took 15 minutes to completely stop.

Once it has died down the reaction add 200 ml of water warm to 100 ml of the zinc chloride solution.

Now add 150 ml of 99-100 per cent Isoproponal alc to 3.5 g of DMG. DMG must be stirred carefully with a stirrer at room temperature.

Now add the Zinc chloride with excess HCl with 30 ml of conc Ammonia a pink color that quickly fades will occur and then add the rest of the Ammonia. The solution with 10 ml extra Ammonia hydroxide will produce a cocoa brown-colored pigment.

Yes this is a very unique part of the project using zinc metal to make Zn(DMG)2.

Step 3: Cobalt DMG Complex.

This first bottle here is 25 g of Cobalt (II) chloride weighed out with 200 ml of ethanol and diluted with water then 4 ml of concentrated Hydrochloric acid is added. The solution is added and Isoproponal alcohol 150 ml to around 200 ml is added to 3.5 g of DMG.

As shown in the video I will show the cobalt chloride formed a neat Orange complex I was not expecting a light orange color on paper but it worked very well.

Co+2 from cobalt chloride +2 DMG + NH3 (ammonia) in water >>> Co(DMG)2 + NH3.

The cobalt DMG is a semi-solid in alcohol.

Step 4: Chromium Salts With DMG and Isopropyl Alcohol.

When Chromium chloride or many chromium salts (Cr+3) salts Not dichromates or chromate salts are added to HCl (hydrochloric acid) and Isoproponal alc and ammonia is added this is what happens when salts are mixed.

Chronium +3 + DMG + Ammonia >>> Chronium (DMG)3 + Ammonia.

Again it acts the Ammonia as a buffer.

Alcohol helps keep the DMG into a more soluble solution it is very necessary to dissolve the DMG.

For the Protocol, I will describe what to do next.

Add 3.5 g of Chromium chloride 6 Hydrate to 200 ml of water and add 4 ml of Hydrochloric acid. Add 150 ml of Isoproponal Alcohol to 3.5 g (Around there) to DMG. Use a magnetic stir and stirrer to keep the DMG and the alcohol mixing nicely.

Add the Chromium HCL mix to the DMG and Isoproponal Alc and add carefully 20 ml slowly of ammonia hydroxide.

Cr+3 + 3DMG + NH3 >> Cr(DMG)3 + NH3.

You will have A couple of grams of a DMG complex that produces a thick colloid suspension. 1 to 2 g does not sound like much but it a very high density-weighted chemical. In other words, a lot is formed by this process. You must store them in PE or HDPE or glass bottles.

Step 5: Copper (2+) DMG Complex Prep.

For this prep, DMG is added to Isoproponal alcohol (3.5 g estimation in DMG with 150 ml of isopropanol alc). Then we add the copper sulfate weighted to 4 g ( a little excess 0.5 g) will not really affect yield that much. and 200 ml of water is added than 4 ml of 31 percent HCl is added.

Afterward, the Copper sulfate mix with HCl is added to the DMG alc solution while stirring vigorously. Finally, ammonia was added.

Cu+2 + 2DMG + NH3 (ammonia) >>> Cu(DMG)2 + NH3.

The DMG complex is a solid but acts in solvents like alcohol as a colloid.

Step 6: Iron 3+ DMG Complex Dye Preparation.

Using roughly 3.5 to 4.0 g of iron chloride and adding 200 ml of water then adding 4 ml of Hydrochloric acid to that mixture. Then weighed out around 3.5 g of DMG to 150 ml of isopropanol alcohol (100 percent in this case) and stirred for 20 minutes at high speeds.

Then the Iron chloride mix with HCl was added to the DMG-alcohol mixture and 20 ml of Ammonia was added.

Fe+3 + 3DMG + NH3 in water >>>>> Fe(DMG)3 + NH3 in H20.

DMG Fe complex is a interesting Iron type of dye.

Step 7: Manganese - DMG Complex Preparation.

Here some detailed info on how to make the Manganese HCl complex.

To prepare the Manganese DMG Isoproponal complex I add 3.5 g of DMG to 150 ml (100 percent Isoproponal alc) to a beaker with a stir rod. The beaker should hold at least 600 ml (Mine went to that).

4 g of Manganese sulfate is added to 200 ml of water with 4 ml of concentrated Hydrochloric acid. The Manganese sulfate HCl mix is added to the DMG alcohol mixture while vigorously stirring.

Then carefully with full PPE 20 ml of NH4OH (Ammonia hydroxide- 28 percent) to the mixture. When the two mixtures are mixed it should turn white then tan brown when the Ammonia is added.

Mn+2 + 2DMG + NH3>>> Mn(DMG)2 + NH3.

Step 8: Vanadium Pigments With Vanadium Pentoxide.

I discovered even tho the Vanadium Pentoxide produced with 19 g of KOH (Potassium hydroxide) a very basic solution of excess produced a Pigment (Light yellow) when DMG was added to Isoproponal alcohol with the acidified K3V03.

However, as the video describes Ammonia had NO effect.

You need pH papers to measure the pH I recommend a weaker acid -glacial acetic acid that is less likely to convert K3VO3 into excess V205 (Vanadium Pentioxide). Once the ph of the solution pipetted when stirring was done I got the ph to 6 with 15 ml of glacial acetic acid dropwise.

Please wear PPE while working with Vanadium Oxide and Lye (both are corrosive, and V2O5 is very toxic). Wear an N95 gas if you plan to work with V2O5!

To 100 ml of K3VO3 add 4 ml of HCl it will drop out of solution the Vanadium (yes, tricky). To a 600 ml flask add 3.5 g DMG to 150 ml of Isoproponal alcohol. Add a stir bar and stir near 600 Rpm. Then add the Vanadium complex and add 20 ml of Ammonia Hydroxide (28 percent).

A precipitate should form Orange in color.

Step 9: Finally Making Your Dyes That Will Be Applied on the Paper.

Here are about 6 dyes that you can make with DMG and different transition metals. The DMG for me is well known for Nickel and other salts but Not Iron, cobalt, Manganese, chromium salts, etc. They form a precipitate and it must be shaken before use.

I use gloves normally and bubble wrap or rubber stoppers to make different imprints with the dyes. I find since they are partly aqueous (water-based) and partly alcohol it takes longer to dry so you can work with the fresh dyes a lot quicker than normal Alcohol and gram stained dyes (like crystal violet, or Safranin O) for example.

I have not gotten the time to frame all these results some have methylene blue or malachite green (Aqueous) as mixes with Nickel DMG the mix of dyes works very well.

A bit of warning that silver nitrate and ammonia forms silver azide a sensitive compact explosive so never add silver salts to ammonia.

Always handle the salts and left over as hazardous and never dump them or the DMG complex down the drain!