Did you know that Black isn’t a color, scientifically? Black was produced due to the absence of light. Black is one of the most known colors, yet mysterious. It is commonly used in every artist’s palette but has it ever crossed your mind how to make black paint? Or is it possible to make one on your own?
You can make black paint on your own by mixing equal parts of yellow, red and blue, combining brilliant green with Dioxazine Violet, dark blue (Ultramarine, Phthalo or Prussian) with orange, or Crimson + Phthalo Green.
Join us throughout this article, and let’s learn how to make black paint and be worry free!
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I suggest learning color theory and basics of mixing in case you really love painting and want to feel more independent and save money on buying big paint set.
Why do I need to mix black if I can buy it?
It’s not mandatory to learn how to mix colors to get black paint, but here are a few reasons why you should, even if you can buy it:
- Knowing how to combine different colors to get the paint you need will make you more crafty/creative.
- Mixing colors could be your art and crafts activity to bond with your friends and family.
- It will help you learn about the color’s characteristics, its undertones, shades, and the likes.
- It will take time but save money.
- It helps control all the colors and shades
- Mixing colors is upskilling and growth for an artist who wants to improve painting skills
- Learning to make black paint will protect you from worry and stress if you run out of color. It is truly very satisfying process, sort of meditation!
What is the color black?
Color black, scientifically, isn’t a color; it is the absence of light. An achromatic color, meaning it has no hue. Black is not a primary color and you won’t see it on our regular color wheel. In painting black is highly opaque, dense and offers great coverage.
In the digital world, black is known as #000000 (hex code).
In the RGB color space, black is made up of 0% blue, 0% red, and 0% green, while in the CYMK color space, black is made up of 100% black (as K stands for Black), 0% cyan, magenta, and yellow. Black has 0% lightness, a hue angle of 0°, and 0% saturation.
The hexadecimal color #000000 has RGB values of R: 0, G: 0, B: 0 and CMYK values of C: 0, M: 0, Y: 0, K:1.
Black color meaning
Although black was associated with darkness, evil (especially in the underworld of greek mythology), mourning, and sadness, black had positive connotations of fertility and protection in ancient Egypt, while in China, black signifies power, stability, and immorality.
Black is misunderstood; it’s like some feared black. But like any color, there’s beauty in this color.
In Psychology, black perceives glamor, sophistication, elegance, and power, although it conveys negative emotions like anger.
What are some shades of black?
The color black, like some other colors, has different shades from more greish to more brownish.
Here are the shades of Black that we will explore:
- Jet Black
- Mars Black
- Ivory Black
- Midnight Black
Charcoal is a shade of black associated with gray.
If gray is a combination of black and white, charcoal has blue undertones that make it mistakenly called dark gray.
Charcoal is #36454F (hex code), comprised of 54% red, 69% green, and 79% blue. in RGB color space.
Jet black, known as #0A0A0A (hex code) in the digital world, is considered the darkest shade of black and is typically used to describe hair color. In RGB color space, jet black was composed of 3.9% red, green, and blue.
Mars black came from the mineral iron oxide (a natural pigment), known as #020003 (hex code), in the digital world. It is a slightly warm shade of black with brown undertones and is typically compared with ivory black. Mars black is one of the most known shades of black.
Here are some Mars black paints from different brands that you can try:
Ivory black, is also known as “off-black,” #231F20 (hex code) in the digital world. Although ivory black is often compared with mars black, it is a softer shade of black.
In RGB color space, ivory black is made of 35% red, 31% green, and 32% blue.
Here are some Ivory black paints from different brands that you can try:
Midnight black is the shade of black that resembles the midnight sky. It has undertones of brown and is known as #2B1B17 in the digital world.
Midnight black is 43% red, 27% green, and 23% blue in RGB color space.
How to make black by mixing two colors?
Using some complementary colors makes black paint, red and green, blue and orange, yellow and purple, green and purple can make black. Depending on the shade of the complementary color and the ratio you can see different shades of black.
TIP: ALWAYS LET THE MIX DRY TO SEE THE RESULTS! Acrylic paint tends to dry darker.
Here are my experience with mixing complementing colors to make black paint:
Combine Red and Green
If you use Vermilion Red the shade may have dark green undertones. It also will dry darker and blacker than it is while wet.
If you have Crimson, use more Phthalo Green (around 1:3 it was in my case) to get black, otherwise it may be brown or dark purple-ish.
Read alaso: What Does Red and Green Make? Easy Mixing Guide
Combine Blue and Orange
Choosing blue and orange can give you a vibrant shade of black. You can buy orange or mix red and yellow.
If you get a result that isn’t darker as you want it to be, you can add more blue until you achieve the darkness you want.
In my test I used Liquitex Cadmium Orange and different blues to find the best option. I also mixed red and yellow to see if this approach works better. I think mixing your own orange works as well as buying one.
Some sources recommended Cobalt blue, well, in my case it created a shade of purple and nothing close to black. Using Ultramarine, Phthalo Blue or Prussian Blue worked much better. Mixing Cyan with orange gave me nice dark green color.
I also was adding a tiny bit more blue to make sure we are not creating brown.
Combine Phthalo Blue and Cadmium Orange
Other excellent complimentary color combinations to make black are phthalo blue or Ultramarine blue and cadmium orange. They will neutralize each other and produce black when mixed. Let it dry as while wet it may seem blueish.
It works the same way if you will mix your own orange using Cadmium Red and Cadmium Yellow (primary colors).
Combine Yellow and Purple
For this color combination, it is recommended to use 40% yellow and 60% purple to achieve the color black. In the absence of purple, you can use violet. In my experiments I used Mont Marte Satin Purple and Ultramarine Violet (Amsterdam) – it didn’t make black mixed with yellow. It made brown as complementary colors supposed to do.
So I decided to dry deep violet or purple to see the difference. I would not use even 40% of yellow, 30% max. The closest to black I got with DIoxazine Violet. It looks like dark grey-charcoal shade of black while wet and darker brown-black when dry.
Deep Violet or Dioxazine Purple didn’t give good black as you can see.
Combine Green and Purple
Surprisingly, both secondary colors, green and purple, can make black if mixed. But not all green shades. I’ve tested Phthalo Green with dark purple and violet and regular purple – it makes dark green-blue colors but not the black. The closest to some black shade is Dioxazine Purple with Phthalo Green.
I think the key is to use brilliant green with Dioxazine Purple or Violet. Light bright green helps neutralize the blues and gives grey-dark shade. Avoid using Emeralds or greens with blue undertones.
How to mix black without black paint? Use primary colors!
Making black paint without using black color (even a tiny drop) is also possible. Suppose we combine complementary colors like earlier to make black paint. But you can also mix 3 primary colors, yellow, red and blue, to make black paint.
Here’s how you can make black paint without using black color:
Step 1: Prepare equal parts of red, yellow, and blue to your palette. This is the standard recipe. But I use more blue, less yellow. But you should test your paints!
Step 2: Mix the primary colors in your palette using a palette knife or paintbrush.
Step 3: Adjust the hue of the black paint you made by adding a white color to make it lighter (grey) or a blue tint to achieve a darker shade of black.
Here are other shades of primary colors you can use to make black:
- Quinacridone Magenta, Phthalo Blue, and Hansa Yellow
- Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, and Yellow Ochre
Quinacridone Magenta, Phthalo Blue, and Hansa Yellow
Quinacridone Magenta, Phthalo Blue, and Hansa Yellow are sometimes known as “printing primaries” because these colors are the closest to the primary colors of printing machines. If you don’t have Hansa Yellow, don’t worry, you can substitute it with Cadmium Yellow (more available to buy than Hansa).
Mix the quinacridone magenta and phthalo blue first to get a beautiful shade of purple, then add the hansa yellow that will neutralize it, and you’ll get black. It is very important to add a bit more yellow once you mixed all colors to make black as you can see how the results are different:
Read also: How to Make Magenta? My 2 Personal Methods
Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, and Yellow Ochre
Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, and Yellow Ochre are darker shades of the primary colors, red, blue, and yellow. Mixing equal parts of these colors altogether would make a beautiful shade of black.
You will get sort of dark grey color. The key here is to add more Ultramarine once you done to make it gradually more black.
How to make black paint with brown?
Brown and blue are both darker colors, the reason why it is not a surprise that combining them can give you black paint. Like any other colors, brown and blue have different shades; which shades should we blend to make black paint?
Blend Brown and Ultramarine Blue
Prepare your brown and ultramarine blue in your palette. Ensure that the ultramarine blue is close to half the total mixture.
Blend Brown and Prussian Blue
Using Prussian Blue with brown is often used to achieve the color of the darker night sky.
Blend Raw Umber and Blue
In your palette, add the burnt amber brown closer to where your blue paint is and mix them in a swirl motion until you get the black color.
Blend Burnt Sienna and Blue
You can adjust the two colors to achieve the black shade you want. I also tested Prussian Blue and Phthalo Blue and I use ratio of blue to Burnt Sienna as 2:1 or sometimes even 3:1.
How to make black with phthalo green?
Beautiful green hue, phthalo green, is ideal for mixing with red and making black.
Mix Phthalo Green and Alizarin Crimson
Alizarin Crimson is a darker shade of red that, when mixed with phthalo green equally, makes a beautiful darker shade of black.
Mix Phthalo Green and Pyrole Red
When mixed with phthalo green, Pyrole Red will make a dark black with green undertone.
Mix Phthalo Green with Dioxazine Purple
Dioxazine Purple and phthalo green will make a beautiful dark black. Although, you have to ensure that phthalo green will not overpower the dioxazine purple because overpowering dioxazine purple might result in dark green and not black.
How to make black paint with charcoal?
Running out of paint shouldn’t be a problem when you have a piece of charcoal at home. You can still make black paint with charcoal and some water or paint medium.
Steps on how to make black paint with charcoal
Step 1: Prepare the materials you will need.
- Mortar and pestle
- Glazing Medium (optional)
- Small bowl
- old newspaper
- palette knife
- paint brush
- Jar with lid
Step 2: Place your old newspaper under your mortar and pestle.
Step 3: Scrape your charcoal (using your palette knife) or cut it into tiny pieces before putting it into your mortar and pestle.
Step 4: Grind your charcoal using a mortar and pestle until it becomes a fine powder.
Step 5: Put the bowl over the newspaper and your strainer over the bowl; once prepared, transfer the powdered charcoal to the filter.
Step 6: Put back the powdered charcoal to your mortar and pestle and repeat steps 4 and 5 at least twice.
Step 7: Prepare 1:1:1 powdered charcoal, glazing medium, and water into your jar.
Note: If you will not be using a glazing medium, the powdered charcoal and water ratio is still 1:1, or it depends on the consistency you want. You may try reducing the water if it’s too flowy.
Step 8: Mix the powdered charcoal, glazing medium, and water in the jar until well incorporated.
Step 9: Using your paintbrush, try out your naturally made black paint.
Step 10: Adjust the consistency of your paint by adding powdered charcoal, water, or glazing medium.
How to make black paint with gray?
You cannot blend any color with gray to make it black because grey will make any color lighter not darker; it could be a shade of black but not black.
If you add black paint to gray paint, it might give you a charcoal-black shade.
How to make black paint darker?
Trying to make black darker isn’t impossible, but to tell you what, you must be creative when mixing.
Here’s how you can make black darker:
- Choosing the primary colors red, yellow, and blue to make black paint, use a darker shade of red and blue to get a darker shade of black.
- Using a darker shade of green if you choose to blend red and green will give you a darker shade of black. Ex., Phthalo green.
- If you use orange and blue, you must make blue your dominant color to get a darker black.
- If you use brown and blue hues, blend burnt umber, prussian blue, and ultramarine blue to create a lovely shade of darker black.
- Sometimes people say use equal proportions, but in reality, if you are mixing blackusing dark blue or green it is most likely you will use 2:1 ratio of blue to another color to overpower brownish tones.
- Let the mix dry. While wet some mix, ex. with green or purple seem to be too green or blueish, but once dry they lose these tones and become darker and closer to black.
How to make black cooler or warmer?
One of the advantages of making your black paint is that you can control what shade you like and the temperature it perceives. Here are the colors you could add to your black to make it cooler:
While here are the colors you can add to black to make it look warmer:
How to make black paint with household items?
It isn’t impossible to make black paint using household items! Aside from the charcoal you can also use food coloring, face paint, powder pigments to make black paint.
Here are some household materials you could use to make black paint (just mix them altogether):
- Through using flour, salt, water, and food colorings.
- Shaving cream and food colorings.
- For black paint, you can also use face paint, blend cornstarch, whole milk, water, and food coloring.
Note: For food colorings, use the colors that will result in black when mixed, like:
- red + blue + yellow
- red+ green
- blue + brown
- blue + orange
- yellow + violet
Making black paint isn’t out of reach with your pantry staples.
How to make black with acrylic paint?
Making black paint out of acrylic is the same as how we mix colors in general to make black.
- Mixing primary colors red, yellow, and blue to make black acrylic paint. The darker the shade of blue and red, the darker the black.
- Blending complementary colors opposite each other in the color wheel, like red and green, blue and orange, and yellow and violet.
- Combining dark blue and chocolate brown.
How to make black with crayons?
Mixing colors using crayons is more tricky than mixing paints. With crayons, you will use the layering technique to mix the colors.
To make black using crayons, it would be best to use a darker color first, like blue, and then layer it with red and yellow, or red, then blue and yellow. But the colors we need are the same colors we used in the paints:
- Red, blue, and yellow
- Red and green
- Blue and orange
- Yellow and violet
- Blue and brown
Here is the list of crayon brands you can try:
How to make black with colored pencils?
However, layering is not as perfect and effective as mixing and especially with pastel pencils won’t work to make black. Here I tested Derwent pastel pencils and all combinations to make black. No luck:
Not even all colored pencils will allow you to properly layer colors one on top of another. If colors are transparent, nothing will happen, like here for example, blue, red and yellow, and brown with blue layered:
In general I would say, it is not quite easy nor 100% possible to make black with colored pencils.
How to make black oil paint?
Making black oil paint is more straightforward than you can imagine. The colors you will be using are also the colors you used in mixing with acrylic paints and crayons.
You also have four options to make black oil paint:
- Combining primary colors (equal parts and opt for darker blue with no green hues).
- red + yellow+blue
- Mixing complementary colors:
- Blending brown and blue hues.
Here is the list of oil paint brands you can try:
Best black paints on the market
As black is one of the most commonly known colors, there is a wide range of selections in the market. Not always you want to spend time mixing black color, and most of the time you can buy it for cheap.
Here’s how you can choose the best black paint:
- Determine where to use the color.
- Be specific about what shade of black you like (Mars black or Ivory balck being the most common)
- Consider your budget when deciding.
Here’s the list of the best black paints in the market:
- Liquitex’s Ivory Black – It has excellent consistency and works well for all skill levels. The brand is the best and one of the most popular brands for beginners ar pros.
- Winsor and Newton’s Mars Black. It has a creamy and high-quality texture. It dries fast.
- Blick Studio’s Mars Black. Highly recommended for beginners as it is quite cheap. It has a good value and excellent pigment load.
- Golden Artist Heavy Acrylic’s Carbon Black. It has a buttery and thick consistency. The pigment is vibrant and rich. It is a professional and sometimes quite expensive paint.
- M. Graham’s Lamp Black (watercolor) – It has a beautiful satin finish, and the paint dries slower.
Mixing black paint FAQ
Do all colors mixed together make black?
All primary colors (red, yellow,blue) mixed together can make black.
It depends on the hues, undertones, and likes. It could also be gray or brown, but not always black. If you get black by mixing all the colors, it is because the substance created absorbs all the colors; it has no light, and that’s why our eyes perceive it’s black.
How to make brown paint black?
You can make brown paint black by blending it with the color blue. The darker the shade of brown and blue, the darker the black will be.
Here are some shades of brown and blue you can use:
- Ultramarine blue + brown
- Prussian blue + brown
- Burnt umber + blue
- Burnt umber + ultramarine blue + prussian blue
Is black primary color?
No, black is not a primary color. The primary colors are red, blue, and yellow. Also, black is not a natural color scientifically because it occurs without light; it does not have its own spectrum of light.
Black is mentioned as primary color only in CMYK model where K stands for black. This model is used in digital printing and design, but not for classic painting on paper or canvas.
Making your own black paint isn’t only pushing you to be more creative, but it also helps you to get to know more about the color. It makes you notice the difference between its shade and its undertones.
This article is also an eye-opener that even the absence of light can be beautiful, elegant, and sophisticated.
I hope that, like me, this article triggers your interest to explore more about the colors, even the monochromatic ones. Let it be the start of more color-mixing experimentation and exploring the beauty behind making black paints.