Welcome to Masterclass

Learning tools for artists

Oils | Understanding Blacks

Exploring the unique qualities of the five blacks in Winsor & Newton’s Artists’ Oil Colour, we examine Ivory, Lamp, Mars, Perylene and Blue Blacks. Ivory and Lamp Blacks are carbon-based but whilst Ivory is a dark black with a brown undertone that is well suited to underpainting, Lamp Black has a cool blue undertone and is slow drying and therefore not suited to base layers. Mars Black is a great neutral, fast drying and very matt in terms of finish. Perylene Black is a ‘new’ black, a synthetic organic pigment with a green undertone created in 1948. Finally, Blue Black is as the name suggests: a black with a blue cast, created via a combination of Ivory Black and Ultramarine Blue. Understanding blacks will help you make the right choice for your painting.