1. Copying kits is a crime that hurts original artists & producers. Help support your favorite artists by buying their original works. PlanetFigure will not tolerate any activities related to recasting, and will report recasters to authorities. Thank you for your support!

Painting Black. The color and mixes.

Discussion in 'Painting Techniques' started by Mike the Swede, Sep 13, 2021.

  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.
  2. bigtodd PlanetFigure Supporter

    As always great advice!!!!!!!!
    Thanks Mike!!!!!!
    anstontyke and Oda like 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.
    anstontyke, Renato, Jed and 4 others like this.
  4. Dolf Well-Known Member

    Great advice! Thanks for sharing! (y)

  5. Nap Moderator

    Hi Mike

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

    Appreciate your time and sharing

    Happy Days

  6. oldtrousers PlanetFigure Supporter

    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.

    anstontyke, oldtrousers and Nap like 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.
  9. BRAN Active Member

    Thank you Mike !!
  10. Mike the Swede Active Member

    Dear Friends

    Hope you guys are all fine. sorry for my delay in getting back to you here, I was called back to teach at school again and it has been very, very busy...
    To say the least!
    I am so glad you like this little article, thanks for all your comments!
    And it is really all about trial and error, experimenting and to be a bit daring. I change my color mixes almost every time, jus to try something new.
    And sometimes it works! (sometimes not... !)
    I probably never have used a paint straight from the bottle/tin/tube, I feel I need to add my own little touch and create something that is more me and more personal... ;):)
    So use my ideas and suggestions as guidelines and for inspiration and then start mixing your own palette!

    More articles to come soon... ! So stay tuned and keep painting my friends!

    theBaron, anstontyke, Dolf and 5 others like this.
  11. Hobbychick PlanetFigure Supporter

    what is Mike’s last name and where can I pickup his book on Color Harmony? I’ve just started working on The Shadow a pulp icon from the 30’s.
    I will have a lot of black on this figure
  12. DaddyO A Fixture

    'Tis Mike Blank (Of whom I'm sure you've heard) ;)

    The book is a cracker which rather than give a paint this colour to get this effect describes Mike's own methods for developing balance and subtle colour effects and, as with the notes about black above, guides the reader/painter to seek out ways of achieving harmony in their work. I found it hugely inspirational and often go back to re-read and learn from it - Hopefully there's a US distributor, but if not I'm sure El Greco can send a copy :)

    Nap likes this.
  13. Hobbychick PlanetFigure Supporter

  14. Nap Moderator

    DaddyO likes this.
  15. Hobbychick PlanetFigure Supporter

    Thanks for the link Nap. I was able to find a store here in the U.S that has it
  16. Redcap A Fixture

    Great advice on painting 'Black' and indeed even despite owning it a number of years now, Mike's book "Black & White" is still my 'go to' reference for these respective colours.

    Thanks for sharing your skills with us Mike.
  17. PropBlast Moderator

    Can't see the picture in the original post.
  18. Tecumsea PlanetFigure Supporter

    I bought Colour Harmony when it was published and after a year away from painting I have been using it continuously for the past month playing catch up on colour mixing.

    Thanks Mike for publishing and hopefully the book has been very successful for you financially after all of the hard work.

    Best regards....Keith
    Mike - The Kiwi likes this.
  19. samson Well-Known Member

    Sorry for the late reply . The recipes in the book refer to acrylic or oils ?thanks .
  20. Tecumsea PlanetFigure Supporter

    The advice on colour mixing can be applied to any medium.
    Nap likes this.

Share This Page

planetFigure Links

Reviews & Open Box
Buy. Sell & trade
Link Directory

Popular Sections

Figure & Minis News
vBench - Works in Progress
Painting Talk
Sculpting Talk
Digital Sculpting Talk
The Lounge
Report Piracy

Who we are

planetFigure is a community built around miniature painters, sculptors and collectors, We are here to exchange support, Information & Resources.

© planetFigure 2003 - 2022.