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What is the best way to make black?

What is the best way to make black?

There are a few different ways to make the color black, depending on the medium and the desired finish. Here are some of the most common and effective methods.

Using Paint

For painting or coloring on paper, canvas or other surfaces, one of the easiest ways to make black is to mix together equal parts of complementary colors. The primary colors red, yellow and blue make up the triad of complementary colors. When mixed together, they cancel each other out to make a neutral dark gray or black.

Start by squeezing out equal amounts of red, yellow and blue paint onto a palette. Use a painting knife or popsicle stick to thoroughly mix the colors together until they blend into black. Add more paint as needed to build up the color density. This method works for any type of paint including acrylic, oil, watercolor and gouache.

Another option is to mix colors adjacent on the color wheel such as red and green, orange and blue or yellow and purple. These pairings will also create a muddy dark color when blended evenly. For the deepest black, use a strongly pigmented paint rather than pale or opaque colors.

Using Inks

For drawing, calligraphy, printing and other ink-based applications, solid black inks are readily available. India ink and sumi ink are two traditional black inks commonly used by artists. Both are waterproof when dry and achieve an intense black color.

India ink contains carbon pigment suspended in a water-soluble binder such as shellac or vinyl resin. It flows well from pens and brushes. Sumi ink originally used soot to tint rice paste into solid black ink sticks. Modern sumi inks use similar carbon pigments. They produce delicate tones perfect for calligraphy.

Other black ink varieties include acrylic ink, alcohol ink and gel pens. Each ink formula has characteristics optimal for certain techniques from sharp-edged drawing to smooth painterly washes.

Using Dyes

For coloring textiles, wood, basketry, eggs, and other craft materials, black fabric dye provides an all-over application of deep black color. Fiber reactive dyes bond permanently to natural fibers like cotton, wool and silk through a chemical reaction.

To dye fabric black, dissolve the powdered dye in hot water following the package directions. Submerge your damp fabric in the dye bath, stirring frequently. Remove when the desired darkness is reached and rinse well. For irregular surfaces, apply the mixed dye with a brush and allow it to set before rinsing.

Other blackening agents for natural materials include elderberry juice, black walnut hulls, iron acetate and vinegar. Each substance acts as a mordant to help bind and set the dark tannins and pigments.

Using Pigments

For mixing black into paints, inks, cosmetics, plastics and other solid materials, carbon black is the essential pigment. It is produced by burning organic materials such as wood, coal and tar in controlled conditions.

The fine black powder deposit is collected and refined to produce pure carbon black. Added to paints and inks, it produces an opaque jet black color. Combined with waxes and oils, it makes black crayons and cosmetics. Even a small amount of carbon black pigment will deeply darken the base material.

Other black pigments include iron oxide, which produces a bluish black, and manganese, which creates a warm black. But carbon black has the highest tinting strength and stability across applications.

Using Food

For black food coloring, activated charcoal provides an edible and non-toxic pigment. Made from coconut shells, wood or other natural materials, activated charcoal is superheated to produce highly absorbent carbon.

Black Foods Charcoal Amount
Cake frosting 1/2 teaspoon per cup
Cookies 1/4 teaspoon per batch
Ice cream 1/2 teaspoon per quart

When blended into foods, it adds an intense black shade while retaining the flavor. Typically, only a very small amount is needed to produce a dark color.

Some naturally black foods and ingredients are also useful for tinting other foods black. These include black sesame seeds, black beans, black rice, squid ink and coconut ash. Blend or cook them into dips, sauces and baked goods to achieve a deep, food-safe black hue.

Using Technology

For digital applications, RGB color values can produce true black. The RGB color model combines levels of red, green and blue light to create millions of colors on screen.

RGB Values Color
255, 255, 255 White
0, 0, 0 Black

With RBG values of R0, G0, B0, the absence of light creates digital black. Hex code #000000 or DEC code 0, 0, 0 will also yield true black for web and print design.

Black 3D printing filaments are commonly available with carbon powder or other black pigments blended into the plastic resin. This produces solid black prints without the need for paint or other coloring techniques.

Black photography filters allow photographers to subtly darken a scene. Neutral density and color compensating filters reduce all wavelengths of light evenly to alter brightness and contrast.


Whether mixing paint, dyeing fabric, cooking food or designing digitally, there are many ways to achieve black through color theory, natural pigments and smart materials selection. Mastering both traditional and modern blackmaking methods allows artists and creators to always have this classic, versatile color at their fingertips.