View Full Version : Achieving "near black"

01-05-2006, 08:28 PM
I've spent the last 4 - 5 years with watercolor and now finding great joy in pastel. However, as a newbie I need help and direction with achieving the darkest tones.

With watercolors I could mix several blues, reds, violets and greens and get a very dark result without using "black". Black seems to look unatural as most shadows tend to be deep tonalities.

Any tips on how to get the result I'm looking for without black? Maybe it's just the order I'm laying the color down in?

Seems like 've seen some posts where charcoal was used. I'm using a variety of pastels (soft and medium hard) Nupastel, Gallery and Mun Gyo.

Thanks for any feedback!

01-05-2006, 08:31 PM
Some pastel companies make really good dark greys. I use a very dark purple, brown or grey depending on what I'm doing. I haven't tried them but, if you go on dick blick you can buy individual diane townsends and she has several colors called black something. Like black green, blackred, ect. Looks really good.

01-05-2006, 08:35 PM
There are a few really good threads on shadows in the pastel Library..if you do a forum search for pastel shadows, they are sure to come up :)

01-05-2006, 09:07 PM
My favorite near blacks because they are a bit "harder" so make a good first layer are the Art Spectrum Flinders Blue Violet, Deep or Flinders Red Violet, Deep. They are so dark one has to sometimes look twice to realize they have either a cool or warm temperature to them which using charcoal or premixed grays don't have. Terry Ludwig has an extremely dark green that is very nice, but I don't know what name/color it might be because none of my Ludwig's have labels on them - an older set when he didn't label anything.


01-05-2006, 09:59 PM
Terry still doesn't label anything, altho he'll include a placement "key" when sending out boxes of pastels. I'd recommend dropping him an email and asking about his really really dark red, purple, and green...all are wonderful.

Kathryn Wilson
01-05-2006, 10:26 PM
Rather than using a black, depending on the shadow color, I use a deep eggplant color, or a deep, deep purple or blue. I need to check my color charts for which makers they come from.

I have read where Dianna Ponting uses some pure black in her paintings. I think it was in the form of pastel pencils, but I could be wrong.

01-05-2006, 11:32 PM
Thanks Sooz - I thought I'd heard or read somewhere that Terry is now labeling his pastels. Guess not. His "color key" works only if you put the pastels back in the exact same place, and if the cat doesn't knock the box off the table thus sending all of the pastels every which direction! Yup! that happened the second week I had the whole new box of greens. Darn cat! The amazing thing though is that almost no pastels were broken, and those that did only cracked.


01-06-2006, 05:27 PM
If you don't currently have a deep dark purple in your collection, you could try laying down the black and then layering the object's color over top. The black will take on the color's tone. I've used this method a couple of times with some success when I didn't have the right shadow color.

01-06-2006, 06:12 PM
art spectrum's flinders violet D520 will cover any black needs you may ever have. townsend also has some awesome dark-darks, and sennelier has a great dark deep green. i am not familar with the pastels you are using, some brands are lacking in darks from the start. nupastel does have a dark blue that works ok though. 298?

01-06-2006, 06:49 PM
I've got a set of Sennelier darks that I'll never be sorry I got. Before that, I had trouble when I wanted something really dark to black. Some really good dark purples, blues, greens are really a wonderful thing to have.

01-06-2006, 07:49 PM
Thank you all for the replies and perspectives. Funny how leaving a comfort zone in one medium turns things around. But I'm really enjoying the process and hope to post in this forum soon.

Thanks again from Indiana :)

01-08-2006, 02:13 PM
Since I like Schminke pastels I took a black and a leaf green deep and crushed them, added distilled water and rolled it back up... now I have a lovely dark dark green. I think in pastels, it's ok to use black.

01-16-2006, 11:52 PM
Hi there. I swear by Terry's colour too and if you want a Sennelier black/green that's to die for get #177

Cheers, Dianna :wave:

01-17-2006, 10:50 PM
All you need is a really good dark pastel set--I rarely use true "black," as I like to be able to make my shadows warm/cool, in accordance with the rest of the painting. I HIGHLY recommend Unison's 36 set of dark colors... it's a set with some of the richest and deepests hues of red/blue/green/purple that I've ever seen. The colors have a lot of zing, but none of the muddiness associated with using black. I couldn't live without that set! :)

01-18-2006, 06:32 PM
Thank you all for the terrific feedback. I'm having a blast looking at the brands suggested.