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Does any color make black?

The short answer is no. There is no way to physically mix colors together to make the color black. Black is considered an “achromatic” color, meaning it has no hue and does not appear in the visible spectrum of light. However, you can simulate the appearance of black by mixing together complementary colors.

The Color Spectrum

To understand why no colors make black when mixed, it helps to understand the visible color spectrum. The colors we see are determined by the wavelengths of light. Light wavelengths range from short (violet) to long (red). When all wavelengths are present, white light is produced. The absence of light is black.

There are three primary colors of light: red, green, and blue. By mixing the primary colors together in different proportions, all other colors can be produced. For example:

Color Mix Resulting Color
Red + Blue Magenta
Red + Green Yellow
Green + Blue Cyan

As you can see, mixing primary colors of light produces more saturated, vivid colors. Mixing all three primaries together produces white light.

Mixing Pigments

Pigments, like paints and inks, work differently than light. With pigments, the primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. When pigments are mixed together, they absorb and reflect different wavelengths of light.

Mixing all three primary pigment colors together will produce a dark, muddy brown or black. This occurs because each pigment is absorbing more wavelengths of light and less is reflected back to our eyes. However, true black contains no hue or tint.

Approximating Black

While no colors physically combine to make black, you can simulate black using color theory. The key is mixing complementary colors, those opposite each other on the color wheel such as red and green or blue and orange.

When complementary colors are mixed, they cancel each other out and create a neutral “gray”. Adding white will make the gray lighter, while adding black will darken it. By darkening the mixture enough, you can create an approximation of black.

For example, mixing a deep blue with a deep orange will result in a very dark brown that appears similar to black. Additional black paint or ink can darken it further. However, this color mixture will still contain some hue and not be a true neutral black.

True Black

The only way to achieve a true black with no hue or tint is to use black pigment, ink, paint or pixels. Black absorbs the full visible spectrum of light and reflects none back to our eyes. No mixing of colors can simulate the absorbing qualities of true black.

In printing and design, true blacks are achieved by using black ink or paint rather than trying to simulate black with color mixes. For example, CMYK printing uses black (K) ink along with cyan (C), magenta (M), and yellow (Y) to create a full range of color and true blacks.


In summary, it is not possible to physically mix colors together and create the true color black. Because black is defined as the absence of light and hue, the only way to make true black is to use black pigment or pixels. However, you can simulate a very dark black by mixing complementary colors together and adding black.