PDA

View Full Version : Black, to use or not to use?


Jas-TheCleanArtist
01-07-2015, 11:11 PM
I have heard that some artists don't use black at all, and that some use lots of different blacks. I've also heard that it mutes down colors when mixing. Is this true? How do some of you use black? :confused:

WFMartin
01-08-2015, 12:22 AM
Of course, Black "dulls colors". When you want a duller color, Black is a very good color to use. When you want a "clean" color you must not only avoid Black, any other color that will dull your color.

Black works very well for darkening colors, but only if those colors are secondary colors, such as Red, Green, and Blue. The addition of Black will effectively darken those colors much better than adding a complementary color. A complementary color darkens a color to an extent, but then before that color becomes "dark" enough, it becomes neutral, as in the example below, followed by eventually becoming the complementary color, by the sheer volume of Thalo being added. Cadmium Red Light has been darkened with its complement (or NEAR complement), Thalo Blue in the top example, and with Black in the bottom example. Which would you choose if you wanted a red that was so dark that it was almost Black? I'd pick the Black, as the "darkening color".

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Jan-2015/13079-Cad_Red_Darkening.jpg

Now, while Black can be used to effectively darken a secondary, color, the addition of Black to a primary color (Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow) causes a hue shift.

Many times this hue shift, if you understand it, and are aware of it, can be put to very good use. In the painting below, I used Black (probably Mars Black, but ANY Black would work), to create the wonderful, subtle, light lavenders that you see on the back, "white" petals of this iris. This is one intelligent way to make use of the phenomenon that Black causes a hue shift when mixed with a primary color. In this case, the addition of Black to Magenta causes it to shift toward exhibiting its "blue-ness".

To make use of this hue shift phenomenon, you first need to know what the primary colors are, and to make use of the "darkening" phenomenon, you need to know what the secondary colors are.

I hope you do not feel that the use of black paint in this painting contributed to its downfall by causing it to appear "dull". Black was also used to create many of the greens in this painting, by mixing it with the primary color, Yellow. I created the lavenders by mixing Black with Winsor & Newton's Permanent Rose 502 (the primary color, Magenta)
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Jan-2015/13079-Golden_Girl_Final.jpg
"Golden Girl"...16" x 20" oil on canvas

Black is almost always the third, standard color that I place on my palette nearly every time I sit down to paint. The first two are Burnt Umber, and Ultramarine Blue.

I've never experienced Black paint "dulling" any color that I didn't want it to dull. When employed with a bit of knowledge, Black can be one of the most useful colors on the palette, and when used for the hue shift phenomenon to which I referred earlier, it is much more controllable than using any other color .

yellow_oxide
01-08-2015, 12:29 AM
Black does mute colors its mixed with, but so does adding white and mixing compliments.

A reason for using one black paint is that it's already, conveniently, black. There's then need to mix compliments and adjust until it's just right. If you want it to be off-black all you have to do is add a little of whatever color you want it to lean toward. If you want grey all you need is to add white. An off-grey is again as simple as adding whatever color you want. Also, on some limited palettes it may not be possible to mix a very dark black. It may also cost more to mix black, depending on the palette. For example, if your palette is cadmium red, cadmium yellow, and ultramarine blue, any black mix would include expensive pigments. Even just adjusting one of the colors, such as muting the ultramarine, would require using expensive pigments. Most black paints are very inexpensive. So, using a black on your palette can be both time saving and cost effective.

A reason for using multiple blacks is that different paints handle differently. Some blacks are more transparent, some dry faster, etc. In watercolor there's more factors such as a one black having a granulating texture and another being very smooth, or one black being staining and easier to glaze over while another is non-staining and easier to lift.

SamL
01-08-2015, 01:01 AM
the addition of Black to a primary color (Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow) causes a hue shift.
How does the hue shift work?

Cyan + Black = ?
Yellow + Black = ?
Magenta + Black = ?

Gigalot
01-08-2015, 09:17 AM
Black is a best pigment ever! :clap:
In Ala-Prima, Wet-In-Wet, artists, who have a low experience, can make a lot of mud using black with careless. In layered technique, I don't see any problem with it.
In Wet-in-Wet use Dioxazine purple instead. It is a color and makes less mud. There is no black in impressionistic nature and any shadow must have at least, violet color. Dioxazine is a way to go.
Also, Monet will be glad on his heaven :)

Yellow + Black=Olive green

JaPizzy
01-08-2015, 10:05 AM
Wouldn't the shift really depend on what you use as your "primary", like different blues would react differently to black.

I think a big mistake that people make, at least in the airbrush world I come from is using too much black. A tiny bit mixed into a dark that you've mixed up with a complementary can be enough to knock it dark without killing the color. I use a lot of contrasts between light and dark, so I don't know how I'd survive without using some in my darkest darks.

I guess it all comes down to the usual "try it out and see" being the best determining factor as to how black will work in your color mix. Try it out on a scrap surface and see.

budigart
01-08-2015, 10:38 AM
There is an oft repeated story about two big time painters from back in the 1800's who were talking palettes. Can't remember who they were, but both had "made it." One said, "I can't work with black on my palette," to which the other replied, "I can't work without it."

It's simple, folks . . . some like it and have learned how to use it to their purposes, and others refuse to use it. Those who don't use it often say they don't use it because someone told them not to use it, or that they read it in a book. Of course, if it's written in a book, it has to be true . . . doesn't it?

Personally, I have used it daily (mostly in making my string of neutrals) for 20 years or more.

Jas-TheCleanArtist
01-08-2015, 05:21 PM
:) Thanks for all your help, everyone! Very enlightening!

Barbareola
01-08-2015, 05:39 PM
It's simple, folks . . . some like it and have learned how to use it to their purposes, and others refuse to use it. Those who don't use it often say they don't use it because someone told them not to use it, or that they read it in a book. Of course, if it's written in a book, it has to be true . . . doesn't it?

Often enough I guess it is art teachers in school or college or "How to" books that give that advice, which, in the mind of the students translates into "Rule that must be obeyed or else...." - whatever or else might be. We were told in school not to use black for shadows, because it "creates a black hole in the picture that stands out like a sore thumb".

As is often the case of guideline that turned into "rules", I guess it is the principle behind the advice that gets lost in the telling and retelling. If your aim is for example to paint realistically then creating a shadow with simply lowering the value of a colour with black will not create the intending realism. That is because a shadow is usually tinted in the hue of the complementary colour of the hue bias of the light. Yellowish sunlight for example will give bluish or purplish shadows. Simply using black for a shadow will not create the desired effect; you'd be better off using a complementary to the body colour.

Somehow that got shortened to: "don't use black" which is a pity, because as the others said, black can be very effective if you use it for that which it is good at. The "don't use black" has been ingrained in me so tightly that I actively have to "allow" me to use black which is kinda sad. :(

opainter
01-09-2015, 02:54 AM
I have mixed feelings about whether or not to use black. Strictly speaking, it is not really necessary if you can mix your "darks" sufficiently dark without it. This argument is pretty persuasive to me. Esp. since I am trying to keep my color palette as small as is realistically possible. For my "darks," I have no problems mixing my blue and brown and coming up with something colorfully gray. (I'm sure that last phrase, "colorfully gray," is going to raise some eyebrows!)

On the other hand, if I was more into painting brooding, melancholic scenes, then black would be a must. My "darks" just wouldn't be dark enough.

sidbledsoe
01-09-2015, 05:17 AM
When I have used black it has often worked ok, but I have also seen a number times when I clearly got that dreaded dirty look. It is a real thing, not just talk. I am not going to say who's fault it was.

michelangelo71
01-09-2015, 06:56 AM
I agree with Gigalot. Mixing some yellow and black, are out many beautiful green..:)

Patrick1
01-09-2015, 03:46 PM
If it hasn't been mentioned already, making pre-mixed piles of color by darkening a few of your main mixing colors with black - can make it less likely to over-use black.

So for example, to darken a red apple, instead of squeezing some black directly from the tube into the red, instead take some of your pre-made red + black mix to do most of the darkening of the red. You use the pre-mix as though it's a single-pigment dark red.

You can make your own pre-mixed browns the same way...and by varying the amount of black in each pre-mix, you can get a whole range of browns from somewhat fiery like Burnt Sienna to dull and sepia-like.

Patrick1
01-09-2015, 03:56 PM
I have mixed feelings about whether or not to use black. Strictly speaking, it is not really necessary if you can mix your "darks" sufficiently dark without it.
Same here...I generally try to get by without black too. If a brown + blue mix is dark enough, that's the easiest way. But if you need the darkest, most luscious blacks, mixing dark transparent colors together (even if they aren't complements) is the way to go.

Bradicus
01-09-2015, 06:08 PM
When I have used black it has often worked ok, but I have also seen a number times when I clearly got that dreaded dirty look. It is a real thing, not just talk. I am not going to say who's fault it was.
I agree with Sid, blacks a great colour. And used wisely, like all pigments/colours, gets the art made.
But getting 'dirty' results is real easy.

I use compliments mostly, but not afraid to whip out my black when needed.

My final 2, ivory is nice to use, mars obliterates all in its path...

Brad

WFMartin
01-09-2015, 06:55 PM
How does the hue shift work?

Cyan + Black = ?
Yellow + Black = ?
Magenta + Black = ?

Each primary color reflects not one, but TWO of the 3-thirds of the white-light [Red, Green, Blue] spectrum, while absorbing the remaining third color. That's what makes each of them a "primary color", and not something else.

That being said, it is my belief that when Black (any Black) is added to one of these primary colors, that color begins to "show" or "exhibit" or to "display" its other, reflected color.

For example Yellow, being the truest of all the 3 primary colors in pigment (in other words, it plots nearly precisely where it is supposed to plot on a blank color wheel), it's "Green-ness" begins to show. Yellow reflects not only Red, but Green light. My choice in paint for primary Yellow is Winsor & Newton's Transparent Yellow 653 (PY128).

Being the next truest of the 3 primary colors, Magenta begins to exhibit its "Blue-ness" when Black is added to it. Magenta reflects not only Red, but Blue light. That's what makes it "Magenta", and a primary. My choice for Magenta in paint is Winsor & Newton's Permanent Rose 502 (PV19).

Being the next truest of the 3 primary colors, Cyan does not exhibit anywhere near the profound hue shift as the other two do. Since Cyan reflects both Blue and Green light, we can expect it to show a slight bias toward Green, when mixing Black with it. My choice of Cyan in paint is Grumbacher's Thalo Blue (PB15).

So, to answer your question simply:

Cyan + Black = Green (but only slightly)

Magenta + Black = Blue (You may choose to call it "Violet", or "Purple", but it plots very near to "Blue" on a scientific color wheel.)

Yellow + Black = Green (This is quite noticeable, as most artists will agree.)

llawrence
01-09-2015, 09:52 PM
I think black is a beautiful and useful color. The prohibition against its use has never made a smidgen of sense to me.My final 2, ivory is nice to use, mars obliterates all in its path...Brad, if you like Mars black except for its tinting strength, you might try one of the natural black earth varieties. Da Vinci makes a nice one, Magnetite Genuine. Great for skin tones.

Bradicus
01-09-2015, 10:25 PM
I think black is a beautiful and useful color. The prohibition against its use has never made a smidgen of sense to me...
Exactly.

... you might try one of the natural black earth varieties. Da Vinci makes a nice one, Magnetite Genuine. Great for skin tones.
is that a PBr6 or 7 ? I looked at it on blick and no pigment listed.
I am intrigued by it,
Brad

opainter
01-09-2015, 11:29 PM
mars obliterates all in its path...

Perhaps you've been reading too much Velikovsky . . .

Bradicus
01-10-2015, 01:53 AM
Perhaps you've been reading too much Velikovsky . . .
Hahaha, perhaps indeed!



Mars is great: Like everytool, it has its place.


Cheers,
Brad

llawrence
01-10-2015, 03:50 PM
is that a PBr6 or 7 ? I looked at it on blick and no pigment listed.Brad, the tube lists PBk11 Natural Magnetite. Same color index number as Mars black, but natural - not quite as dark and nowhere near as strong tinting as the Mars.

Gigalot
01-10-2015, 05:52 PM
Shungite Black is perfect natural black pigment.

sidbledsoe
01-10-2015, 11:39 PM
Brad, the tube lists PBk11 Natural Magnetite. Same color index number as Mars black, but natural - not quite as dark and nowhere near as strong tinting as the Mars.
you can verify this, if it is PBk11, a magnet will be attracted to it and stick to the tube, PBr6 or 7 won't.

SamL
01-11-2015, 02:02 PM
Poll:

What are the pluses and minuses of the following blacks?
Which one is warm, cold, neutral?
Which one is most popular (used most often by painters)?
Which one is the most and least toxic?

1) Chromatic Black
2) Ivory Black
3) Mars Black
4) Black Spinel
5) Payne's Grey

budigart
01-11-2015, 03:34 PM
Ivory black is basically a very dark blue. Proving it is simple . . . start mixing white into it. It immediately begins to take on a blue look. Old masters use it in place of blue for two reasons . . . 1) is is blue, and 2), blue was a very expensive color back in the day of those great old painters.

However, many painters today use Ivory black as one of the main ingredients of making neutral grays. The other color used most often is raw umber. Mixed roughly half and half, they produce neutral grays that can be used to attenuate strident chromas.

Ivor black, alone, tends to shift hues (toward blue) when used to desaturate colors . . . a good thing to know if you want to make a dull purple . . . an alizarin-like red plus ivory black will make purple, useful in some skin tones.

Mythrill
01-11-2015, 06:37 PM
Poll:

What are the pluses and minuses of the following blacks?
Which one is warm, cold, neutral?
Which one is most popular (used most often by painters)?
Which one is the most and least toxic?

1) Chromatic Black
2) Ivory Black
3) Mars Black
4) Black Spinel
5) Payne's Grey
Answering the poll:

1. I can't answer specifically about all these blacks, except that a chromatic black is made of any two or three colors that will make a very dark, neutral color. You can have a chromatic black made of Phthalo Green Blue Shade (PG 7) + Anthraquinoid Red (PR 177), or another made of Raw Umber (PBr 7) + Ultramarine Blue (PB 29). In fact, the two colors don't even need to be complementary, i.e, you can have a black made of Dioxazine Purple (PV 23) + Phthalo Green Blue Shade (PG 7). Therefore, chromatic blacks tend to inherit the strengths and weaknesses of the colors they are mixed from.

2. Since color perception is relative, we can only talk about a cool or warm black when compared to other blacks. In relation to each other, Ivory (PBk 9) is usually the warmest. Mars (PBk 11) can be warm or cool. Winsor & Newton's Mars Black in acrylics is cooler than their Ivory; by contrast, Sennelier's Mars Black is so warm they sell it as Raw Umber!


Here is Winsor & Newton's Mars Black (PBk 11) in acrylics. Notice how cool and bluish it is.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Jan-2015/96427-01630_MarsBlack-l.jpg

No, this is not a mistake from Dickblick's swatch. If you see Sennelier's color chart on their site you will also see their Raw Umber as PBk11!

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Jan-2015/96427-01529_RawUmber-l.jpg


3. Compared to the others, Black Spinel (PBk 30) would be the most neutral, and Payne's Gray the coolest. Considering Payne's Gray is historically a mix, it can be made to be very neutral or a very desaturated blue.

4. Ivory and Lamp Black (PBk 6) are the most common blacks. Ivory is the most versatile because it is the easiest to use, and Lamp is the most known for being the darkest; however, it is precisely the deep darkness of Lamp Black that makes black widely known for "killing" colors, as people believe they need it so much to darken everything they tend to ruin the painting!

5. Chromatic blacks and Payne's gray vary in toxicity, depending on the mix they are made of. Ivory and Black Spinel are slightly toxic. Of all blacks, Mars is the only one completely non-toxic. In practice, however, the toxicity of Ivory and Black Spinel is so neglibible they are completely safe for handling in paint even by children.

Mythrill
01-11-2015, 06:46 PM
is that a PBr6 or 7 ? I looked at it on blick and no pigment listed.
I am intrigued by it,
Brad

Hi, Brad!

PBr6 is Mars Yellow. It's usually a very opaque, warm and deep yellow ochre, though less saturated and more orange than PY42 (opaque). Very often, manufacturers add a black pigment to it to make a Raw Umber hue.

sidbledsoe
01-11-2015, 08:15 PM
PBr6 can vary (http://www.artiscreation.com/brown.html#.VLMRcSvF9zg) so widely it is crazy, but I believe that it is most often a brown, I had a burnt umber by Shinhan in oils that was PBr6.
Oil paints and watercolors using PBr6 and PBr 7 exist in almost any shade of yellow, orange, red and violet brown to green brown.

llawrence
01-11-2015, 08:25 PM
you can verify this, if it is PBk11, a magnet will be attracted to it and stick to the tube, PBr6 or 7 won't.Interesting. As soon as I run across a magnet around here, I will give it a shot.

llawrence
01-11-2015, 08:38 PM
2) Ivory Black
3) Mars BlackMars black tends to be not quite as black as the others. It has a high tinting strength, and should be as permanent as any of the other iron oxides. This is the black I tend to use the most these days. Winsor & Newton's is fine.

When I need a really dark accent, I reach for Rublev bone black (same as ivory black). I don't usually need something that dark, but when I do that's the one. One of their best paints.

opainter
01-11-2015, 08:49 PM
For those who remain undecided about whether or not to use black on their palette, (myself included,) Payne's Grey might be a good compromise, since it is only approximately half-black.

Payne's Grey shouldn't really be called either a "color" or a "black" for this reason. So what should it be called? Besides "Payne's Grey," of course? "Neutral Tint."

Some paint makers have given us the option of using neutral tints other than Payne's Grey. For one, Old Holland has a "Neutral Tint" (PR259/PBr7/PB15) that does not have any black in it--but it does have Ultramarine Pink (PR259)! For another, Sennelier has a "Neutral Tint" (PB60/PBk7/PR109) that has gold (in the form of PR109, Purple of Cassius) in it! Sennelier's Neutral Tint would be perfect for painting Russian-style landscapes or portraits I should think.

I think that anyone who is carefully considering having black on their palette should also consider Payne's Grey and some of the other Neutral Tints, which are so special, before making their final choice.

Bradicus
01-11-2015, 10:13 PM
Brad, the tube lists PBk11 Natural Magnetite. Same color index number as Mars black, but natural - not quite as dark and nowhere near as strong tinting as the Mars.
I have no experince with this pigment. Interesting.
Thanks for the lead Lawrence.
And you too Alex.
And I will try Sids magnet trick too.

Mythrill, I ment PBk on ell sixo, my fault.
PBr is very versitile though.

Which makes me wonder what the most versitle pigment is??
Pr 101 is in half the piechart...
And PB29 is no slouch. PV19 is interesting, along with 122.
And of coarse py43(and42?memory is slipping)
Pbr7 is varible but not as veritile IMO.

Humm,
Brad

yellow_oxide
01-11-2015, 10:55 PM
When I need a really dark accent, I reach for Rublev bone black (same as ivory black). I don't usually need something that dark, but when I do that's the one. One of their best paints.

Have you tried Rublev German vine black? Going by my tube it's very high tinting strength (much higher than my charcoal blacks from W&N and Blue Ridge), warm brownish undertones (even though they call it a "blue-black"), and the closest I've seen to perfectly neutral in tints with titanium white. Not as dark as my ivory black from M Graham. Dries matte and dries very fast.

I made a light but opaque application brushed on canvas one evening to see how fast it'd dry and when I checked around mid or late morning the next day it was dry to the touch in most parts, except a few ridges. My other two charcoal blacks weren't showing much sign of drying after a few days and I eventually painted over them since I wanted to use the canvas.

Their German vine black in watercolor is one of my favorite black watercolors, and I've used a lot of them.

Orange26
01-11-2015, 11:32 PM
My teacher don't allow students using black, he request them to mix black from other colors. But he also told me that his teacher is a mastery of using black.

His theory is that 1) black will dull your color, and 2) black is complicate & subtle. Students have to family with color mixing first, and learn to use black later, because black requires more control.

Bradicus
01-12-2015, 01:23 AM
...His theory is that 1) black will dull your color, and 2) black is complicate & subtle. Students have to family with color mixing first, and learn to use black later, because black requires more control.
sounds like a good teacher!




Brad

llawrence
01-13-2015, 11:49 AM
Have you tried Rublev German vine black? Going by my tube it's very high tinting strength (much higher than my charcoal blacks from W&N and Blue Ridge), warm brownish undertones (even though they call it a "blue-black"), and the closest I've seen to perfectly neutral in tints with titanium white. Not as dark as my ivory black from M Graham. Dries matte and dries very fast.I haven't but I will. Thanks!

Sketchee
01-13-2015, 01:21 PM
If I use any of the black paints, I wait until the very end.

If it didn't get to the right level of contrast and needs black for those darkest areas, that's when I'll know. And this avoids the chance that it'll mix with anything else and become muddled. A few washes in the darkest areas or the areas behind the brightest brights will often do the trick.

It can be effective if you need it!! Like with all art processes, the question for any tool is why and when =)

DMSS
01-19-2015, 12:09 AM
Sometimes I use black as an accent, straight from the tube. Usually this is not in a realistic painting. My main use of black is to mix with white to make grey, which I then use to darken or dull a color. I also love black mixed with Pthalo Blue (Green Shade), which gives me beautiful dark blues. I read somewhere that you can treat black as a very dark blue, and thinking of it that way has been very useful in my mixes.

jorri
01-21-2015, 10:29 PM
Black is absolutely fine if you know what it does. I think best mixed black is pg7 and alizari. The main thing is not to use it straight on the canvas. Well again if you want that effect maybe- to look like a black and white photo or graphic illustration, but i think the impact is more with the right choice of dark colour.

llawrence
01-22-2015, 12:10 AM
Fear not the black.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Jan-2015/132386-hanneman_selfport.jpg

Sumptuous!

davidbriggs
01-26-2015, 09:43 PM
Sumptuous indeed! To me the most important thing to bear in mind about using black paint as a darkener is that while you want the shadow colour to be reduced in chroma, by itself black paint will will often reduce the chroma too much - hence its reputation for "dulling" or "muddying" colours.
http://www.huevaluechroma.com/101.php

However you can correct for this by adding some more of the colourant pigment, and for some colours you'll also need to correct for any hue shift that occurs (e.g. add a bit of orange if a yellow becomes too greenish or a if red becomes too purplish).

In addition all black pigments are actually very dark greys (in the sense that they reflect a few percent of light across the whole spectrum), which makes pure black unsuitable to use for the darkest part of a strongly coloured object. You will often want to make these darkest parts as high in chroma as you can make them at that value. For example in the Hanneman self portrait above compare the deep darks of the hair with the black of the coat.