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Painting Black. The color and mixes.

Discussion in 'Painting Techniques' started by Mike the Swede, Sep 13, 2021 at 2:46 PM.

  1. Mike the Swede Active Member



    Dear Friends
    I hope that you are all fine and staying healthy, it does feel lovely that several countries are opening up again. It is indeed time to move forward and to learn from this period for the future.
    And here, finally, is the little article on my mix for the wonderful color of black!
    (About time some of you may think, and yeah, it is about time!)
    I have always been fascinated with black. It is mysterious, elegant and classy. It has also been one of the hardest color to create for fabrics in past times when no chemical or synthetics was available...
    One can only imagine how quickly a black tunic might hade faded in the Holy land for example.
    In the photo you will se a basic mix that I use to create the color of black. And one thing to remember is that black is a color but without any value. (the same as for white). So we need to add some value to black to create some depth, life and interest .
    Otherwise it will appear very flat and lifeless.
    I usually start by mixing Scale 75 Black with some flesh and a touch of brown, this will create warm and very dark tone of grey. From this I will add more and more flesh for the highlights, and sometimes a touch of brown. The flesh I use have a very pink tone which is great to highlight black. Do try different tones of flesh as there number of different ones, some having a yellow tone, some brown and some a pink one.
    Experiment is indeed the key.(as always when it comes to painting)
    For shading I like to use the Vallejo Black as it has a slight satin finish which will adds a lot of depth. And here I always use a touch of red or blue added to the black as we need to add some value, depth and punch to this really dark tone.
    When painting black I usually have the base mix and add 4-5 tones tones of highlights and 4-5 tones of shading, depending on the subject, material etc.
    Now, some of may say: "Hey, this looks like painting dark grey!"
    And yes, it does. But when you paint these"black"tone next to another color, it will appear like black. And that is exactly the point here. All colors are relative to each other. Meaning that whatever color you paint next to another one will affect the other colors. They all work together creating what will look like"black" or "white" for example. So remember to adjust your color mix to the whole figure. Not just one oart of it.
    View the figure as whole.
    I have always enjoyed painting black and I always will.
    And it is actually one of the easier colors to paint as well.
    Now you guys try to create your own mix of black.
    And remember to use several tones and mixes and to avoid using pure black!
    More articles to come soon!
    Stay safe and keep healthy.
    Jed, Martin64, Chrisr and 17 others like this.
  2. bigtodd Active Member

    As always great advice!!!!!!!!
    Thanks Mike!!!!!!
    Oda likes this.
  3. Mike - The Kiwi A Fixture

    You’re the man Mike The Swede ;-)
    Always leader of the pack when it comes to painting Black & White mate. Thanks for taking time to share.

    I’ve just put together a paragraph in my own book on painting black and intrigued by your use of Vallejo - “with a slight sheen to add depth”. I’m always trying to avoid sheen, like the plague, on flat clothing, but have seen this referenced by a few like yourself & MJ Kim. I have used oils (Ivory or Lamp Black) in deep shadow areas, if well thinned will dry Matt though not as flat as acrylics.

    I’ve tried so many different black tones & recently got some of AK 3rdGen Intense Black. Just didn’t do anything extra for me.
    Admittedly I haven’t got same need, with my WW1 focus, on Black, but as with you I do now tend to use a primary base (red or blue) as part of black mixes too.

    Thank you for getting us to reflect on our learning.
    Jed, Chrisr, oldtrousers and 2 others like this.
  4. Dolf Active Member

    Great advice! Thanks for sharing! (y)

  5. Nap A Fixture

    Hi Mike

    Exactly what I was looking for ...well explained as well

    Appreciate your time and sharing

    Happy Days

  6. oldtrousers Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the advise, Mike!

  7. theBaron A Fixture

    Thanks for the post and the explanations, Mike! I've seen your love of black-I don't think I've ever seen you wear any other color ;)

    Gotta share this with Soz-he always talks about wanting to paint a Black Brunswicker and how to approach painting the uniform.

    Nap likes this.
  8. Chrisr PlanetFigure Supporter

    Thank you Mike. Your book Colour Harmony has been most useful for me, especially your colour mixes and techniques. It has changed my approach to painting.
    theBaron, Mike - The Kiwi and Nap like this.

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