Are there different shades of black?

Lots of shades of white. But I’ve never heard of a shade of black. Why is that?

Er… is the answer as obvious to anyone else?

According to my interior decorator friend, there are several shades of black, when it comes to paints and materials.

Black paint is not always as black as one might think, and my friend will go to various wholesalers looking for ‘dark black’ paint for some applications.

There is, of course, a more formal definition of black but the practical aspect of this is that there are several shades of black, as anyone who has had to have a car panel resprayed may well know.

Yep, I’m a quilter, and fabric comes in shades of black. In terms of light and so on there may be only one official shade of black, but in the world of dyes and paints and so on, black comes in shades.

Well, no, it’s not obvious why Crafter Man has never heard of different shades of black, but perhaps he has not dealt much with artist’s or printer’s colors.

There are a number of different artist’s blacks, including Van Dyke Brown (actually a kind of bone black), ivory black, chromatic black, mars black, and black spinel. And printers may specify flat black, rich black, warm black, and others.

By definition in physics visible “black” is that which absorbs all visible EM. Nothing real absorbs all visible radiation so to the eye there are many different kinds of black.

No, no no. We call many things black because we cannot detect the nuances of other colors, but they are often there. So yes you can talk about shades of black. But what you’re really talking about is black with tinges of blue, red, yellow, brown, purple, etc. That’s why when were not sure if something is black we hold it up to something we believe to be black. The differences are often shocking. When the impurities in the black are white ones, we call that gray. And depending upon how great the impurity, one of many shades of gray.

Hope this helps

I meant to say that gray is the different shade of black (maybe the gray text doesn’t stand out enough on this board). Technically, neither black nor white have shades. Black is the presence of all pigments, white is the absence of all pigments (the opposite is true if you’re talking about light). Different “shades of white” are really just light grays or beiges.

Waht are some of the “interesting” reasons you have heard or experienced that has caused/allowed a signed confession to be thrown out as evidence?

Sorry everyone, that was supposed to be a new thread.

By the way, well said continuity eror.

Maybe in many cases, however a black matte without any admixture of colors looks different, and I would call it a differend shade than glossy black. Of course, we get into the tangled jungle of emantics here.

Yes, but the differnces you’re seeing are how light bounces off the paper or other object. You’ll notice that matte paper is not as smooth as glossy. But yes, I think we both understand the issue here.

A whiter shade of black? Dunno what Procol Harum would have thought of that idea. :wink: I say black is black, and that is it.

Depends on what you mean by “technically.” There are a variety of different dark shades that are called blacks rather than grays in artist’s and printer’s terminology (and which would also all be called black rather than gray by the average observer), just as there are a variety of light shades that are called whites. I wouldn’t say that any of these are really grays except to a physicist.

Something one of my painting professors in college stressed frequently was that one should never use black paint straight out of the tube. It was flat and uninteresting. Instead, we were to mix it with a color that worked with whatever color set we were using (ie: if painting a composition in warm, analogous colors, mix red or orange with black). She showed us a painting she’d done where the composition was split with plain, fresh from the tube black (Mars Black, IIRC) on the left and black that had been mixed with blue and purple on the right. The black on the right appeared much darker, richer, and deeper than the black on the left.

Amen. Going way back to my stint in an auto body shop-black was a stinker to match correctly, even with factory mix paint. We’d play with gun pressure and so forth to get it right, sometimes taking several go overs. Ditzler Duracryl Lacquer was the blackest black, and when used for full repaints with clearcoating, after you’d sanded and buffed it out the finish looked fabu!

Funny. I thought that black was easy to match for auto color, and white was the hardest color to match.

My dad tell of one time in the Navy SeaBees (construction), when the guy who painted a yellow line down the center of a road did a sloppy job of it. To fix it, they decided to paint over the line to “erase” it, and then re-do the line right. Well, asphalt is black, right? So they painted over the line with black paint. Except asphalt is much lighter in color than most black paint. There you go, two different shades of black.

For another example, watch a movie on a screen sometime. Look at something black in the image on the screen. Now look at the white screen, next to the black border around it. The black thing in the image is the same shade as that “white” spot near the edge. Or maybe even a bit lighter, if it’s not a perfect black being shown, since a projector can only project light, not darkness. So there you have a shade of black that’s lighter than a shade of white.


Just so we get our terms straight, hue refers to the color of the tone and value refers to the lightness of the tone. Using the term “shade” can be a little ambiguous. Continuity Error assumed shade = value and was correct in mentioning “gray”. But I assume that you are referring to hue.

At it’s absolute, there can be no tonal variations of black because it represents total darkness. But in common parlance, we use “black” to refer to most things that are very dark with little or no hue.

In the printing world, there are four colors to print with: cyan (a light blue), magenta (a vivid pinkish-red), yellow and black. Printing with 100% black is colorless but not as deep as you would imagine. In my experience, some printers will create a “deep black” by adding 40% cyan to the mix. It makes it darker, but it also gives it bluish cast. But it’s not really perceptible unless you see it next to something built with a darker or more color-balanced black.

Working with video there are alos defined blacks. If you are really closing tuning for contrast there are several variations. A color bar is often used which has whiter-than-black, black, and blacker-than-black. If you can’t tell the difference between WTB and b then you don’t have enough contrast, and if you can tell a difference between BTB and B then you have to much. Black is simply a defined level of low light in Video terms’.