What Colors Make Black? Shades of Black Color Mixing Guide

Are you struggling to get that perfect black pigment? Maybe you’re just mixing colors at random, hoping to strike gold or, in that case, black. Today, we’re taking the guesswork out of the equation and presenting you with the facts about making a black pigment.

Short Answer

Unfortunately, you can’t get a perfect black pigment by mixing colors. That’s because black is what happens when all color is absorbed. But don’t lose hope because you can blend colors to get black shades that are as close as possible to that true black color.

How to Create Black Shades

To make black, you can use primary colors or secondary ones. Note that you can apply the methods below to acrylic paint, oil paint, and watercolor.

Primary Colors

This method is straightforward; you mix the three primary colors in equal parts: red, blue, and yellow. Note that you need the exact shade of the primary colors, so don’t use lighter blue, red, or yellow hues. If you do, light blue and red will give you a brown color.

Otherwise, rich black color is possible with crimson red, ultramarine blue, and yellow ochre. Crimson red and ultramarine blue create a gorgeous purple, and yellow ochre neutralizes it. Also, remember to use equal amounts of the three colors for optimal results.

If you want a soft black color, try mixing cobalt blue, aureolin, and rose madder genuine. Otherwise, permanent alizarin crimson, Winsor blue, and Winsor yellow create a bold hue.

Secondary Colors

If you only want to use two colors, the secondary colors method might appeal to you. For example, you can mix tones of green and red, blue and orange, or yellow and purple to get a black color. As you’d expect, these will give you different black tones, which means you have the freedom to get the black color you want!

Now that you’re on the right track, you need to experiment with these three options; a little trial and error goes a long way. And spread the black tones you come up with on blank white sheets to see how much you like them. But remember to take notes of your process for future reference.

Aside from that, if you want more details about the exact tones you should use, you can mix:

1. Green and Red

When mixing green and red, you want a dark green hue, such as phthalo green, and a solid red, like quinacridone red. With equal parts of both pigments, you’ll have a cool transparent black color.

Another red hue to use with phthalo green is alizarin crimson. Add the colors in equal parts to get a warm and rich black color, but note that it might take you a few tries to get the tone right. Also, the black pigment will probably be lighter than the ones you can create with color compositions other than phthalo green and alizarin crimson.

Speaking of phthalo green, you can blend the color with purple for a black pigment. To illustrate, a dioxazine purple works great if you use it with an equal amount of the green color.

Feel free to add more purple if you feel that the green is too prominent in your black pigment. The result should be a gothic black, and you can try out other purple shades if you want.

2. Blue and Orange

You can mix blue and orange to get a brownish-black. If that’s what you’re looking for, we’d recommend using pyrrole orange and phthalo blue. This way, the strong hues will neutralize one another.

For a lighter black color, mix ultramarine blue with burnt sienna, a reddish-orange. Again, be sure to use equal parts of both colors.

Do you want a darker black? Try ultramarine blue and burnt umber. Also, if you’re unsure what burnt umber is, we’re here to tell you that we aren’t either. Seriously, it’s a topic of debate among painters. Some say it’s dark red; others claim it’s dark orange, and some painters will tell you it’s dark yellow.

Tip: You can add yellow to ultramarine blue and burnt umber if you want a greenish-black hue. Remember this hack the next time you’re painting a deep dark forest.

3. Yellow and Purple

You want to start out with %40 yellow and %60 purple, and you can tamper with the ratio later on (as needed). Regarding the exact tones, we’d suggest using violet and cadmium yellow to create a quality black shade.

See also: 30 Cool Things to Draw

Final Words

Although it may not be possible to create a true black pigment, there are many ways to make black shades. It all comes down to the black tone you want. Is it a rich, dark black, a transparent one, a warm tone, or something else? You can use the primary colors in equal parts or experiment with secondary colors to get your desired black.

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