How to Make the Color Black – Shades of Black Color Mixing Guide

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Black paint movement

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As a painting artist, did you know that you do not have to buy a tube of black color paint? Did you also know that some of the most prominent painters do not even own a tube of black paint color and prefer to mix their own?

Palette knife showing how to make the color black
Mixing black paint color with palette knife

In this article I will show you how to make black color to use for your painting and what colors make black when mixed together! Not only will learning how to make black paint color end up saving you money due to not having to buy a tube of black paint every time you need it. But when you mix your own color of black, it will be a much more vibrant and dynamic black color than that you will get from a tube.

What colors make black?

Shades of black mixing recipe chart using primary colors

Creating shades of black color with primary colors

Red, blue and yellow are the three primary colors for what colors make black paint when mixed together. Simply mix equal amounts of red, blue, and yellow together and you will get a nice black. If you use a lighter red and blue you will end up with a brown – so be sure to use darker colors as shown in the color chart above. If you want the color of black to be a little more bluish, just add a little more blue to your color mixture.

For this initial color of black, I recommend using the colors: Ultramarine blue for the blue, Alizarin Crimson for the red and Yellow Ochre for the yellow.

Using the ‘printing primaries’

Recipe of red, blue and yellow to make the color black

Quinacridone Magenta, Pthalo Blue and Hansa Yellow are very close to the ‘printing primaries’, which are the primary colors that are pretty much used by all the printing machines!

First mix the Phthalo Blue with the Quinacridone Magenta and you will get a good shade of purple. Then, add a little bit of Hansa Yellow to neutralize the color. Yellow is the complementary color of purple, so that is why the Hansa Yellow will neutralize the purple color and you will come out with a great black.

How to mix shades of black color with the color blue

There are more ways to mix black than with just primary colors. Here I will introduce three different mixtures you can use to make black using blue. Some are lighter, and others are darker – but they will all give you black! 🙂

Showing shade of black created from adding a blue and orange swatch of color

First, we go over mixing Pthalo Blue and Cadmium Orange together. This mixture will create a lighter shade of black. So, if you ever want to have a lighter black without using white – this mixture is a good option! The Cadmium Orange will neutralize the Phthalo Blue and the Pthalo Blue will neutralize the Cadmium Orange since they are complementary colors. The resulting color will be a bit of a brownish-black.

This can make for an interesting color of black, especially if you aren’t wanting a very dark black color.

How to mix a dark black color

This is one of my favorite mixtures for how to make black paint color because it is so simple! Most artists almost always have Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber on their palette, as they are what make the color black a very dark black color!

Ultramarine blue and burnt umber color swatches when mixed equal a shade of black

In addition to creating a dark black color, this color mixture creates a cooler shade of black due to the ultramarine blue in it. Ultramarine blue and burnt umber can actually be used to make cool dark colors in general. As well as dark shades of green when it is mixed with yellow. You can see such a greenish black in the painting below.

Painting of a person sitting in shadow with light coming through a large window

Mixing Blue with Burnt Siena for a warmer shade of dark black color

This mixture of Ultramarine Blue with Burnt Siena creates a warmer color than Ultramarine Blue mixed with Burnt Umber. Burnt Siena is a warmer color than Burnt Umber since it is a reddish earth tone.

Color swatch chart showing Ultramarine Blue plus Burnt Sienna equals a shade of black color

That said, this mixture is very similar to the black color mixture above with Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber. However, in addition to being warmer, Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna, mixed together also create a lighter black.

Quick summary chart of what colors make black when using blue as the base color

Below is a chart of three different ways to mix black using blue. It is mainly blue mixed with different browns and cadmium orange.

Color chart recapping three color mixing examples of mixing blue with orange and shades of brown to create black colors

How to make black color with Pthalo Green

Pthalo Green is a very dark and rich color. For this reason it comes in handy for mixing different black colors. In fact, I use it to mix up one of my favorite black colors of all time – Pthalo Green + Alizarin Crimson.

Color chart demonstrating shades of black color made from mixing shades of red and green

Mixing a rich dark purple with green to make the color black

Purple and green color swatch examples that equal black when mixed together

First we will explore Dioxazine + Pthalo Green. It may come as a surprise, but purple and green mixed together can make a great color of black. Dioxazine Purple and Pthalo Green are both dark and create a rich dark black when mixed together.

However, since Phthalo Green is a very strong color, just make sure that the green does not overpower the purple. You can test out the color by testing it on a white surface and make sure that it is a black color and not green.

Mixing green and red to make black

Above I showed how you can mix the complementary colors blue and orange together to make a black. Here, I am also again showing two complementary colors – red and green – and how they create black when mixed together.

Red and green color squares that make black when mixed together

You can’t mix any green and red together to get black. If you want it to be a good dark black then use Phthalo Green and Alizarin Crimson, both of these colors are dark versions of green and red and makes a rich deep black. In fact, this is one of my very favorite mixtures for black! As before, just make sure that you have equal amounts of the colors mixed together – you do not want to have more Alizarin Crimson than Pthalo Green or vice versa. You can test your mixture out on a white sheet of paper to make sure it is neutral enough.

How to mix a transparent black

These two colors make for a great transparent black when mixed together, since both Phthalo Green and Quinacridone Red are transparent colors. However because of this, it is difficult to make a neutral grey with this color mixture.

Discovering shades of black color

Shades of black color example in the painting of The Calling of St. Matthew By Caravaggio
The Calling of St. Matthew Caravaggio

Believe it or not but there are a few different shades of black color. I know it is easy to think of the color black as just that… black. However, there are shades of black that are cooler in color temperature and lean towards being shades of blue. As well as shades of black that are more greenish and even ones that have shades of red in them.

Rainstorm over the Sea By John Constable painting
Rainstorm over the Sea By John Constable

All of these shades of black color are what are possible by discovering what colors make black when mixed. When you mix your own color of black, you can control the shades of black you create so much more.

How to mix cool and warm black colors

As mentioned before, one of the great advantages of mixing your own black color is that you can control what shade of a black you will get. You can also control whether you mix a cool or warm black!

Mixing cool shades of black colors

Color swatch examples of mixing shades of black with black color squares

If you want to make your black even cooler then add some of the cool colors shown in the color chart above. Some examples of cool colors are Ultramarine Blue, Pthalo Green and Dioxazine Purple. You can add just a little bit to make it slightly cooler or you can add more. Again, it is a good idea to test your blue out on a white sheet of paper or on a white canvas. The darker the black is the more difficult it is to detect what temperature it is or if it has too much of a color mixed into it.

Mixing warm shades of black

Warm blacks can be very suitable for blacks that are at the foreground of a painting – since warm colors make things come forward. If you look at the color chart below you will see that there are a few options for making warm blacks. Alizarin Crimson is one of the best colors for mixing into blacks – as it is a dark red. Though Alizarin is a very cool red. Quinacridone Red is a little lighter than Alizarin, however it is a good option especially if you want a warmer red.

Chart of color squares demonstrating mixing black with red and orange to create a different shade of black

Last but not least, there is Cadmium Orange. Cadmium orange is by far much lighter than Quinacridone Red and Alizarin Crimson – however it is a warm color and will help to make black warmer in temperature. If you use Cadmium Orange just know that it will probably make your black a little lighter in value.

Experiment with different colors for how to make the color black

There are many different colors you can use to create warm and cool blacks. You are not just limited to the colors that are mentioned in the color chart. I encourage you to explore with different colors and see what kind of results you get. It is through experimenting and mixing a lot that you get really beautiful colors in a painting.

Recommended colors for how to make black paint

The following are the colors mentioned in this article and are available for Purchase on Amazon.

Pthalo Blue

Alizarin Crimson

alizarin crimson

Ultramarine Blue

Cadmium Orange

Cadmium Orange

Burnt Sienna

Burnt Umber

Dioxazine Purple

dioxazine purple

Phthalo Green

Yellow Ochre

Quinacridone Red

Quinacridone Magenta

Hansa Yellow

Elisabeth Larson Koehler creator of art studio life

Hi! I am Elisabeth

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      4 thoughts on “How to Make the Color Black – Shades of Black Color Mixing Guide”

      1. Thank you for combos I’d not explored yet. I admit to owning a tube of lamp black but rarely use it, I am a black mixer too…old art school habits…but you have a couple of suggestions I hadn’t heard of. Your site is hugely informative for all artists , regardless of experience. Thanks so much for well thought out posts and great info …so happy to have found you.

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