trouble with darker than Blk areas

edited January 2013 in Color Mixing
Ok mark in your vids u say to paint areas that are darker than Blk.
But I see color in those areas..I am painting the folds on my second Stilllife and getting confused.I have always painted from photos not from life.I dint know they could be darker areas darker than Blk..


  • Alex ... if you see color in your dark area's simply paint what you see.
  • If the black paint on your color checker is lighter than what you check in the subject, then just paint it black. This is what a camera would do, but even more so. Typically photos are way over exposed such that the highlights lose all their color (blown out), this is bad - and that is why you may see more in the darks in a photo.

    Your eye simply has WAY more range than black paint to white paint.

    Once you use the method for a while, you can experiment with putting some color into those areas, but if you dont know what you are doing and you just simply lighten all the dark areas, things could look wonky.
  • Maybe he just needs to do adjustments in the blue and brown of his blacks Mark? Getting some color variation in black is pretty easy that way. Try 50/50 blue and brown vs the 40/60 as one example.
  • If it's darker than black paint, paint it black. Breaking this rule isn't always a bad thing (it usually is though), but it's definitely not something you should do when you're just starting out with the Draw Mix Paint method.

    If you finish a painting and you find that there is too much black, and you wish you could see more detail in the shadows, next time you set a still life up, be sure to use the color checker with some black paint on it to do a preliminary "shadow check" (or whatever Mark calls it). There are things you can do to add fill light so that the shadow areas aren't darker than black paint.
  • Ok I'm just use to the squint to see the value method lol..and when I see Blk I put in Blk but I never knew their could be darker then Blk
  • If nothing can be darker than black, then what happens when you take something black from a bright room to a dark room?
  • Ok got it..painting from life is so different.I need to reprogram my brain. :D
  • My comment was more to color than value, you wrote that you see color in those the color more brownish, more blue, more red? Mixing our own black can allow us to have various colors of black.
  • More green be Cause of the curtain.I'm also trying to get use to this limited standard pallet was 12 colors..but I like the way u can really understand color with the 5 mark uses..
  • That is what I figured since I saw the color of the cloth. Not sure how you could do more green with the burnt umber and blue without adding yellow and that would lighten it. There are lots of times that I make my black more brown or blue and even add the red when I need a reddish black.
  • I just realized that I dint calibrate my light for my white paint.I just checked it and its not even close
  • Remember you are just looking at the value of the white may be a different color.
  • Yeah my room paint on my color checker is way pure still life is mid tone gray..
  • The color checker basics video goes into more detail on balancing your whites:
  • Regarding the darks -- black blacker than black, and photos . . .

    For the last seven or eight years, I have been painting free portraits for parents of young men and women killed in the war. This means that I work exclusively from photos, and sadly, often from very poor "grab and shoot" photos taken by the family before he or she left for the war zone. Cameras/film/digital photos are notorious for clumping values. The darks get lumped together as do the lights. My experience is that I have to manufacture these two value extremes. Generally, I lighten the darks, and darken the lights. One thing that helps is to tape your photo to the edge of one of those desk lamps so that light from it will penetrate the photos, thus lighting the darks. It's not perfect by any means, but it will help. It also helps to follow the general rule that cold light produces warms shadows, and vice versa.
  • I'm not sure if this is allowed with Mark's method or not, but when you are in an art museum, check out the black/dark background on some of the portraits or other paintings. They read as black from a few feet away. Up close there are many dark colors visible so that the black is very much alive and vibrant.
  • Sure it's allowed! Paint what you see....if your fortunate enough to see that detail your truly fortunate and by all means paint it. :)
  • Grandma is correct. Rarely is a black in a painting truly black. Often the contrast of a nearby very light value makes you think it is black even though it is not. But let's say you have made a black using Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue. But you really need a smal blacker than black spot to make it look really dark in this black shadow area. Use a little Ivory Black and mix in a little Alizarin Crimson. You will get a very black value that is blacker than your mixed black and yet it will stay "alive" and not be like a dull dark spot on the canvas. Also keep your very darks very thin. You do not want impasto or thick paint in the darks because they will reflect light and not appear as dark as they should be. If they do start getting a little thick, smooth down any brush strokes and keep them vertical as they won't pickup as much external light.

    I mention this backer than black technique, but in all honesty, I very rarely have an occasion to use it as I do not make my darks black. When using very much black in a painting several things can happen. First it lowers the key. Meaning your lights will need to be darker so the painting is not to "contrastly." Sargent and many other great painters only use a range of five values in most of their paintings. This negates the contrasty look and makes a more natural and cohesive painting.
  • Sometimes the use of black or dark values is deliberately chosen for their chiaroscuro effect. Rembrandt used it a lot and his darks were filled not only with dark hues but dark images a lot of times. Chiaroscuro in your paintings makes for very dramatic effects but not naturalism.
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