How to Make Black in Watercolor Painting

In this article, you’ll learn how to make black in watercolor painting.

One of the best things you could do to improve your color mixing skills is to learn how to mix colors from scratch!

If you’re painting scenes with dark shadows, mixing black on your palette from scratch can help you create more interesting pieces of artwork…

How to make black in watercolor painting

Learn more:

How to make black with watercolors

To make black in watercolor painting, you can mix three primary colors or two complementary colors. You’ll also need dark intense colors to produce better blacks.

Using two colors to mix your black will make things much easier than using three primary colors. This is because the results will be more consistent when you’re trying to produce the same shade.

How to make black with primary colors

You’ll need red blue and yellow to make black. To mix rich blacks, it helps if you use darker blues such as Prussian blue or Indigo.

Using different shades of red, blue, and, yellow will produce different results so it’s always best to experiment until you find the right combination. 

When mixing black with primary colors it can be very easy for a small amount of paint to overpower the mixture. This is why mixing small amounts at a time is more efficient.

Color recipes to make black:

Here are two examples of how to mix black with primary colors.

  1. Pthalo blue + Scarlet + Gamboge
  2. Alizarin Crimson + Prussian blue + Olive green
How to make black in watercolor with primary colors

How to make black with complementary colors

It’s a lot easier to achieve black when using two complementary colors.

The issue with using three primary colors is that it’s easy for the mixture to turn gray or brown instead of deep black.

You have to keep adjusting the mixture which causes you to waste paint. 

Red and green

I found Alizarin crimson produced the best blacks because it’s an intense dark red. Here are a few mixtures you can use:

  1. Alizarin crimson + Chrome green
  2. Hookers green Light + Alizarin Crimson
How to make black with green and red in watercolor painting

Blue and brown

You can achieve strong blacks using dark blue colors with brown. 

  1. Indigo + Burnt umber
  2. Indigo + Burned brown
  3. Prussian blue + Burnt umber
How to make black with blue and brown

Using premixed black

Although working with premade blacks is the easier option, they tend to be flat and produce less interesting results.

Payne’s gray is an excellent option if you want to work with pre-mixed black. It’s dark and when mixed with other colors produces interesting shades. 

However, most artists prefer to mix blacks when it comes to painting shadows as they are less likely to appear flat.

When mixing your own black shades, you can easily make it lean toward a warmer black by adding more brown or red. 

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