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It’s such a thing with the color black. Because in realistic painting and drawing it is important that there are strong contrasts between light and dark or that the whole range of the tonal value scale appears in the picture. Nevertheless, it is not always advisable to work directly with the color black here.

Black in oil painting

In oil painting I hardly ever use the tube from which the black comes or only very, very sparingly. Why? Because I work in shifts when painting, but also work wet-on-wet in each shift. In other words, I mix a lot in the ongoing process. The color black unfortunately has the property of soiling the other colors on the palette and on the canvas extremely easily.

What alternatives are there?

These four colors are my black:

In fact, it’s only the first three, because roasted umber isn’t even necessary. However, you will achieve a very dark tone a little faster if you mix it with it. It is also good for the particularly dark areas in the hair. In the right mixing ratio – which you can easily find out by trying out – you can quickly get a very dark shade value with these colors. If you continue to use the same (not necessarily exactly) the same mixture in subsequent layers, the tonal value will eventually reach a nice dark depth.

If you want to use an ivory black in your mixture for the right hair shade, I recommend that you create the dark areas first and then let them dry thoroughly before you overlay lighter areas with other hair colors – without black in them.

Black in pastel painting

For pastel colors too, black easily soils the other colors. Here, however, there is the advantage that pastel images are usually built up from light to dark. This means that you only need to work with the black chalk at the very end and there is little to no risk of creating unwanted effects.

Black in pencil or graphite drawing

Pencils are gray per se. Even the darkest and highest degree of softness is still an anthracite. Many professional pencil drawers just leave it at that. If the tonal range is sufficiently exhausted at the end, the image can still look very realistic when viewed from a distance. (If you see photos of pencil drawings on the Internet, however, you will often be misled, because you can of course set the black even darker or increase the contrast with any image editing program.) If a dark anthracite is not enough for you, there are also other options .

What alternatives are there?

In the course of time I have acquired ALL the allegedly or really darkest pens that were available and advertised on the Internet and tried them out one after the other. This includes pencils and graphite pencils of various brands as well as carbon pencils and black crayons. First of all, based on my experience, I can warn you not to believe everything that is in the product description. The General’s Layout Extra Black 555 pen or the Faber Castell Pitt Graphite Pure 2900 with a hardness of 9B (!) Are both even lighter than the Faber Castell 9000 8B pencil, for example.

Second, you need to pay attention to the different compositions of black pencils. Just as you can’t just go over a pencil drawing with a charcoal pen (because the charcoal doesn’t stick to the pencil), different compositions also have a different glossy effect. Pencil is very shiny when the light falls on it at an angle. This is not always the case with other pens. In the end, when the light falls at an angle, the drawing looks strangely matt in one place. But if you have a good gallery hanging with correspondingly good lighting, then the problem – if you perceive it as one – is no longer that big. So you have to decide something according to your taste in this regard. I personally like the Bruynzeel 8805 colored pencil or General’s Carbon Sketch 595.

A completely different option is to first draw very dark areas with a charcoal pen, because pencil on charcoal is possible! Personally, however, I never made it through to the end. I started one or the other drawing like this, but when I had the first sessions behind me and saw the finished picture in my mind’s eye, I was always afraid that I would invest all the working hours in vain if I might in the end I don’t like it – and then I started a new drawing from scratch without a charcoal fit …

Nina Davis

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