Black is perhaps one of the most underrated colors in the world. Its appearance in paintings signifies dignity, mystery, and elegance – and some of the greatest painters throughout history swear by it.
Scientifically, black is not considered a color but rather the absence of light. However, you may use scientifically visible colors, like yellow, red, and blue, to make your own shades of black.
Yes, you can buy a tube of black paint from the store, but that’s not as fulfilling as mixing your black paint colors. Making the black color yourself allows you to achieve the different black paint hues and shades for different painting purposes.
This post will show you how to make black color in several easy steps. It’ll save you money and help you make much more vibrant and dynamic black than what you can get from a tube.
Why should I make my black color?
Although most shades of black will tend to look the same – just like with other colors – you can create several tones and shades of black. Because of this potential for variation, you should know how to mix your own black – it will allow you to make unique creatives.
Yes, mixing pure black by hand may be tricky, but you have the chance to create a more dynamic and vibrant color. You can make different shades of black, ranging from very light to darkest blacks.
How do I make the color black?
Whether you’re a professional painter or just painting for fun, several shades of black will allow you to put the vision in your mind’s eye onto the painting. You can make the color black in three different ways: combining the primary colors or using complementary colors such as blue and green as the base colors.
Within each method, other tricks exist to help you create different shades of black. Here is how these methods work:
Method #1: Making the color black with primary colors
This is perhaps the easiest and best way to make the color black. You need equal amounts of the three primary hues – blue, red, and yellow – and mix them on a color palette.
Here is a step-by-step guide to making the color black using this method:
- Put equal amounts of the primary colors on a palette. If you use a paintbrush to add paint onto the palette, use different brushes for each color.
- Using a paintbrush, a palette, knife or any metal scraping tool, mix the colors and stir for about 15 minutes
- Adjust the hue of the black using different shades or ratios of the primary colors.
For this method, you may use any paint medium, including acrylic paint, watercolor, and oil painting mediums. And regardless of the medium you use, you can create different hues by using different shades of your primary colors.
For instance, using lighter hues of the primary colors will give rise to an almost-brown, lighter shade of black. Mixing the three primary colors in unequal ratios will also produce different shades of black.
Here are a few other tricks to make the black color using the primary colors:
Making the color black with printing primaries:
You may also combine printing primary colors – Hansa Yellow, Phthalo Blue color, and Quinacridone Magenta to make the color black.
Hansa yellow is a bright and pretty shade of yellow, Phthalo blue is a bright shade of blue, and Quinacridone magenta is an almost-maroon shade of red. To make the black color using these colors:
- Start by adding the magenta color into a palette with the blue paint. This will give rise to a warm and vibrant shade of purple.
- Then, add the yellow shade. It will cancel out the purple shade, leaving a lovely dark shade of black.
The shade of black obtained here is one of the closest shades of pure black you can make.
Making the color black with other primary shades:
You may also use other shades of the primary colors to achieve the tone of black you want. For instance, mixing Yellow Ochre, Alizarin Crimson, and Ultramarine Blue will create a more brown shade of black.
On the other hand, using Rose Madder Genuine, Cobalt Blue, and Aureolin will give you a soft black.
To make the brown shade of black using Yellow Ochre, Alizarin Crimson, and Ultramarine Blue:
- Start by mixing the Ultramarine blue and Alizarin Crimson shades to create a dark shade of purple
- Then add the yellow ochre and swirl to cancel the purple hue. And there you have it – a brown shade of black
This dark hue has hints of brown, making it ideal for adding dimension and shadows to objects in your painting.
Note: You can make the color black in more ways than just using the primary colors. In the consecutive methods, we’ll look at making the black color using green and blue as the base colors.
Method #2: Making the color black with a Blue base
Although you can rely on the primary colors to make the perfect shades of black, knowing how to use other varieties couldn’t hurt. Here, we’ll go through two methods of making the color black using blue as the base color.
Make the color black with Phthalo Blue and Cadmium Orange
This is your go-to method if you want to achieve an almost-dark-grey shade of black without relying on the color white.
This color combination complements each other perfectly to create a lighter black. Each of the shades is vibrant and bright, neutralizing each other very well.
The final black hue is ideal for painters who want to add shadow to their objects or those who want a lighter black shade.
Make the color black with Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber
If you want to achieve a much cooler and darker shade of black, then the color combinations of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber will work perfectly for you. Equal portions of the two paint shades will give you a rich black shade.
However, you can alter the ratio of the colors to create different shades of black as you wish. For instance, adding more shades of blue will make your black color cooler, while more shades of Umber will create a lighter shade of black.
Alternatively, you can mix Ultramarine Blue with Burnt Sienna instead of Burnt Umber. This will create a warmer shade of black because Burnt Sienna is lighter and warmer than Burnt Umber.
Note: The exact black shades will depend on the shades of blue you use and the colors you choose to add. However, you can keep experimenting to see the number of unique black shades you can make.
You may use shades of black to outline the night sky or the ocean’s depths.
Method #3: Making the color black with a Green base
You may also use a green base to make the color black. In fact, most commercial black paints are based on green pigments.
Here, we’ll look at three different ways to combine Phthalo green with other paint colors to make the black color. We recommend Phthalo green because it’s a rich and very dark shade of green.
Making black with Phthalo green and Alizarin Crimson
Like in the primary color method, you can also use Alizarin crimson to make the color black. The process is similar, only that you’ll condense the blue and yellow colors into a single color.
You may combine the two shades on paper until you achieve the color shade you want. Mark the proportions needed and use them to create more shades of black.
Making black with Phthalo green and Quinacridone red colors
Using Quinacridone red is also similar to the primary color method. Combining the two colors gives rise to what’s known as transparent black – transparent because the component colors are transparent.
Although the process may take time, the final color is a transparent shade of black with a cool tone that closely resembles what you can buy in a tube.
Making black color with Phthalo green and Dioxazine purple
Phthalo green and Dioxazine purple combine to give rise to a beautiful, velvety shade of black. The two colors’ shades complement each other because they’re both dark.
To get your shade of black:
- Mix equal parts of each of these colors in a palette. Then, test the appearance of the color on a piece of paper to help you get the best results
- The green shade may overpower the purple, in which case, you should add a little more purple.
The final color is beautiful, rich, and velvety dark, which may be used for so many purposes in painting.
Remember: the three methods highlighted here can be used to make any shade of black you want. All you need to do is balance the hex code according to your desired shade of black.
The final thoughts
The color black is vital in paintings – it’s used to reduce the value and saturation of color and create shadows. And while you can buy a tube of black paint color, making it yourself is more fun and fulfilling.
This post provides you with three different methods of creating cool and warm blacks. Please note that you’re not limited to the colors mentioned here; you’re welcome to try with different colors.