BLACK Art Supply Pigment Database Watercolor Acrylic Ink Pencil Color Chart Swatch
Artist reference guide to Black pigments in art supplies. Color chart swatch cards of common pigments in watercolor, gouache, acrylic paint, inks, graphite, charcoal and colored pencils. Each entry includes lightfast ratings from the brand (and any fugitive test result notes from me), index by pigment number code, brand, manufacturer color name, how the color appears in masstone (full strength) or diluted (with water). Each image displays opacity, lifting (erasing with a damp brush), layering (see how dark of a value can be obtained by a 2nd coat of paint) and if it's capable of holding a smooth gradient blend in wet.
PBk1 , PBk6 , PBk7 , PBk8 , PBk9 , Graphite PBk10 , PBk11 , PBk19 , PBk26 , PBk27 , PBk31 , PBk32
Natural, antiquity, mineral or unique black pigments: Black Tourmaline Genuine , Bloodstone Genuine
Also known as Aniline, Azine or Peach Black. Considered the least lightfast black, with variable fading from LFII to LFIV depending on the brand and form. It has been used as a clothing dye and most often present in student grade gouache paints. This dark value matte black is also mixed in with the more stable PBk7 or PBk9 in some brands to increase its lightfastness. Shinhan Korea and Holbein Japan both offer PBk1 in watercolor form, lightfast test in progress (any updates will be added to the fugitive pigments list page).
PBk8 Vine Black:
Lightfast. Usually made from plant matter that has been burned in a low oxygen container to make charcoal. PBk8 can also include mineral deposits, such as when a forest fire caused a charcoal sediment layer. Often mildly granulating, sometimes with tiny speckles of burned plant particles that will no longer smooth out in wet washes. This pigment is overall uncommon in watercolor (Roman Szmal, Old Holland), but Schmincke and Nitram also make "liquid charcoal" which works very similarly with a matte gouache-like finish. Powder charcoal is available from more than a few manufacturers (Coates, General Pencil, Jackson's etc) which make willow and grape vine charcoal for drawing. In addition to those pre-made powders, you could DIY Pbk8 by placing dry vines/sticks into an altoids tin or covered pot and placing it into a campfire for several hours. Can be easily ground with a mortar and pestle, then mixed with gum arabic for DIY watercolor. Schmincke's liquid charcoal uses fruit seeds and is one of the most finely ground, deep valued and high quality products of them all. Schmincke's Grape Seed Black is remarkably cool, with hints of blue undertones. I have read that "cork black" was considered "the poor man's ultramarine" historically, because it was the most blue of black pigments made for a time.
PBk9 Bone Black:
PBk11 Mars Black:
PBk19 Slate Black:
PBk26 Manganese Ferrite Black:
Rare, lightfast deep black that can be diluted to a huge value range of neutral grays. Offered as Spinel Grey by Rembrandt or Neutral Tint by Maimeri Blu, this pigment is new to the watercolor world being present in just two brands as of 2018-2021. I am hopeful it will be added to more brands in the future, as it is one of the most impressively smooth, non-granulating, fine particle, extremely neutral (very little warm or cool bias) black pigments with a useful pitch-black ink-like masstone. The Rembrandt version is slightly easier to lift, salt react and dries more flat (very matte, non-glossy) in comparison to Maimeri Blu's version.
This pigment does not reflect light, but rather seems to absorb it - giving the appearance of a black hole. It can be remarkably helpful to design work as an alternative to black gouache, but also as a way to darken colors when mixing instead of using a neutral tint mixture. Notably dark in masstone (see bottom right square). The area above the LIFT stripe does have a second layer stripe added after dry, but it does not appear different because this color was capable of being pitch black in a single layer.
PBk27 Iron Cobalt Chromite Black:
PBk31 Perylene Green:
PBk32 Perylene Black:
Black Tourmaline Genuine:
A rare mineral pigment offered by Daniel Smith.
A rare mineral pigment offered by Daniel Smith. Bloodstone gets its name from the red spots of hematite mixed throughout green jasper. Lightfast, granulating near-black red-brown.
Swatch card template
available for download here
, or get the rubber stamp here
. Swatch cards were painted on Legion Black or Arches Cold Press 100% cotton watercolor paper. Paper and brushes are available at Jackson's or Amazon here:
I purchase most of my art supplies at Blick or Jackson's art materials.
I use affiliate links only to stores that I have personally shopped with. When available I'll include multiple reputable stores so you can compare and decide where you'd like to shop. Dick Blick ("DB" links below) is a large art supply chain store here in the USA that ships worldwide. Jackson's ("Jack" links below) is a great UK based art supply store which also ships worldwide, but carries some harder to find European products with quick low cost shipping to the USA. Amazon USA ("Ama" links below) often offers unique brands, including small business and Chinese off brand watercolor sets, that can not be found anywhere else. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Arches 100% cotton cold press 140# watercolor paper is one of the most durable surfaces for technical pen, scrubbing and lifting. It's surface sizing (coating) and texture is a good middle ground compared to the extremes of different brands. Due to these traits, and it being around for long enough to be the most commonly recommended paper for professionals, all of my swatches are done on this paper for consistency. Only white (and mica paints that do not show up on white) use the Legion Black paper instead. I buy my arches paper at Blick, and if you are in the USA this is likely the most affordable place to buy it: https://shrsl.com/2765w
Alpha by brand shopping directory:
Daniel Smith watercolors -- available on DB
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