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Lust for life
10-23-2014, 07:01 PM
Besides a chromatic black, what black makes the best neutral greys? I use Ivory black, is this the best black? Golden makes neutral greys, I was thinking maybe its better to get the darkest neutral grey and add white to that as needed than to use a black for mixing neutral greys quickly.

WFMartin
10-23-2014, 08:40 PM
Well, I use several tubed Blacks, and besides the difference in their various tinting strengths, I don't see much real difference among them.

I suppose you could make the argument that each black has its own color bias, and that is true, but this difference is so minor as to be almost insignificant, as far as I'm concerned. Once these blacks become mixed with the myriad colors with which I mix them, the individual color biases of the blacks become totally overpowered by that of the color with which it is mixed.

I use Ivory Black, Mars Black, and Lamp Black. Right now I couldn't even explain to you which is the "warmest" or the "coolest" black of the three, because I truly don't know and couldn't care much less. However, I can tell you that Lamp Black has about twice the tinting strength of Ivory Black. And, that is really important.

To make your own choice of a tubed Black, just mix each one with enough white (any white) to create a middle gray. Decide for yourself what the individual color biases are of each of the blacks may be. I have no idea which one is truly the "most neutral", for two reasons: First, for me is of very little importance. Second, I'd need a color-analyzing instrument to determine each color bias, and since I left the lithographic trade, I no longer have access to a color densitometer.

Folio
10-23-2014, 09:14 PM
I don't see much difference in the various blacks either, but I'm not keen on black and white alone to make grey. I mix greys from the three primaries plus white, and sometimes add a little black to get there faster. When mixing the grey, if it goes too far towards blue I add a touch of red and yellow to bring it back; if it goes too far towards red, a touch of blue and perhaps yellow -- and so on. The advantage is that I know what all the pigments are that are going into the greys. When you say "chromatic" black -- do you mean a black mixed from other colors?

Patrick1
10-24-2014, 03:54 AM
Unmixed with any other color, most single-pigment blacks are pretty much perfectly neutral...see the almost perfectly flat spectral distribution:

Lamp Black: http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/IMG/RC/rcPBk6.jpg
Ivory/Bone Black: http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/IMG/RC/rcPBk9.jpg

But...when tinted with white, every black I have yet used (including Ivory Black) gives a grey that is slightly blueish, with only slight differences among them in terms of hue and chroma. I agree with Bill that any slight color difference is so small it's (to me at least) insignificant...a much bigger difference is the tinting strength.

I believe Chromatic Black is a general name given to a black mixed from dark complements...often Phthalo Green + a dark red or crimson. I don't think these are supposed to be neutral...actually the fact that they do often have a bit of color to them (especially when white is added) is their virtue because it's arguably a prettier, more lively color than a 'true' black.

The blueness you get from most black + white mixtures can be counteracted by mixing in a small amount of brown...usually Raw Umber will get it closest to true neutral if that's what you want. You might want a store bought neutral grey or neutral grey card for visual reference...i.e. your target color.

Adding white to a very dark pre-tubed neutral grey (such as Golden's N2) is something I've thought about but haven't done yet. I was told that it might become more blueish as more white is added, so it might not work as well as I had hoped. Maybe the closest thing to a black that makes neutral greys would be a mix of some black + a dark Raw Umber-like brown. By itself it would be so dark it would be black, but the more white is added, the more the brown would 'come out' and neutralize the increasing blueness. I don't know how well this would work...just an idea.

Gigalot
10-24-2014, 05:56 AM
The best black is Mars Black PBk11. Due to it's outstanding durability in oil film.

Lust for life
10-24-2014, 09:29 AM
When I mix black which are blueish, with raw umber which is yellowish to slightly greenish, it makes an ugly greenish dark color. I think a warmer brown like burnt umber is needed. When I paint in oil, I dont mind taking time to mixing greys, but with acrylics I find it useful to have a mixed grey that I can adjust in any direction if need be.

Mythrill
10-24-2014, 11:31 AM
When I mix black which are blueish, with raw umber which is yellowish to slightly greenish, it makes an ugly greenish dark color. I think a warmer brown like burnt umber is needed. When I paint in oil, I dont mind taking time to mixing greys, but with acrylics I find it useful to have a mixed grey that I can adjust in any direction if need be.
Lust, I'd suggest adding medium to your Raw Umber (PBr 7?). In the case of acrylics, add around 50%-100% gloss gel to it to reduce the tinting strength, and add silica medium when using oil paints.

Regarding blacks, the point of paying attention to their cast is that they're rarely used in masstone, since when used that way, they can easily make the flatten the painting and make it boring. You'll usually get a mix of a black tint with another color.

It's also worth noticing that, if you want to use black for underlayers in oil painting, the only safe black is Mars Black (PBk 11). When Lamp Black (PBk 7) or Ivory/Bone Black (PBk 9) are used as foundation colors, they can crack, compromising the structure of the upper layers.

Of course, it's very rare for people to use any single-pigment black + white as the underlayer of their paintings. It tends to make upper layers to look like "concrete", which is why some people prefer something that has a distinct cast to it, such as earth colors.

Patrick1
10-24-2014, 12:42 PM
When I mix black which are blueish, with raw umber which is yellowish to slightly greenish, it makes an ugly greenish dark color. I think a warmer brown like burnt umber is needed.

It's possible. At light values, I find adding a bit of Raw Umber to the black + white mix gets the grey very close to neutral, but at darker values it might be a bit greenish and you might need to use Burnt Umber instead. Or maybe a 50/50 mix of Raw & Burnt Umber.

Also, the first time I saw a true neutral grey, it looked a bit greenish to me...since I was used to the 'steely' blueish grey that you get from black + white.

WFMartin
10-26-2014, 11:09 PM
Also, the first time I saw a true neutral grey, it looked a bit greenish to me...since I was used to the 'steely' blueish grey that you get from black + white.

That's the truth. Most artists would not like the appearance of a scientific, absolute neutral "Black", or "Gray" if they saw one. That's the reason I often wonder why there seems to be such an attraction to attain a "pure neutral".