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Is Black a Color or Shade

Is Black A Color Or Shade? What You Should Know About Colors And Shades

Many people describe Black in many ways, and it is essential to understand whether white and black are colors or shades. It is also necessary to explore color from the scientific and artistic perspective and what set black apart from all other hues known. Learning about the workings of Black and white is essential in creating fundamental shades in the digital and print industry. The confusion trailing the real identity of black hue seems to come from the origin of black itself. The following explanations explain the true essence of Black as either a color or shade.

So is Black a Color or Shade?

Black is a shade and not a color. It absorbs all the colors present in a visible spectrum and reflects the naked eyes.

What Is A Color?

It is essential to understand color when it comes to graphic design. It is also necessary to know how color works with shade. Scientists will say that color reflects light, and different materials absorb colors and then reflect other colors at specific wavelengths. This is the color perceived by the naked human eye.

A blue flower, for instance, will reflect blue light to the eyes because it absorbs all other colors at different wavelengths; hence the only color you see on the object is blue. When all light is reflected from an object, you will see the white color, and when no light is reflected, you will see Black.

Can You Call Black A Color?

If you look at the rainbow, you will see that Black is not visible on the color spectrum. All the colors that appear on the rainbow are reflections of light. Unlike white and the other types of hues, Black can occur in nature without any visible light.

Some people may call white a color because it comprises all hues on the light spectrum. Many also consider black a color because you can combine many pigments to create it. In technical reality, Black and white are not colors but shades. Shades are known to augment colors and can function as colors.

Can We Say Black Is The Absence Of Color?

Black and white are known to invoke feelings more than the existing primary and secondary colors. Scientifically, Black is regarded as the absence of light while the color itself is a phenomenon of light. Since black images created on a white background are comprised of pigments and not light, artists often use darkest black paint to create Black shades.

It is important to note that true black and true white and very rare. The pigment you see as black color, for instance, has diverse light or dark colors. This means you cant have a pure black or pure light color. One example where you will see pure Black is the deepest bottom of a back hole; even the best artists cant create a pure black color.

Common Questions On Black

In the process of unraveling the mystery of black shade, many questions have been asked, especially by non-artists and who don’t work in digital and print media.

1. What Exactly is the Way to Create Black?

The way you create black will largely depend on using an additive or subtractive color model. An additive color model is light-based, while the subtractive color model is ink-based.

2. Is Digital Method of Creating Black Additive or Subtractive?

The digital color mixing of creating black is additive. The additive color is used in the digital design for creating other colors. Since computers will show hues containing different colored lights, this form of color creation has become essential.

Each pixel in the additive method of color creation comprises three more minor specks of phosphor- a substance that emits blue, green, or red light when struck with an electron beam. When using digital color technology like Adobe photoshop, your screen will use diverse combinations of lights, all the colors you will eventually see. This notion or idea means that not striking the phosphor will lead to the appearance of Black on the screen.

3. Do Subtractive Colors Combine to Create Black?

The color of inks and the pigments are subtractive. Keep in mind that subtractive colors comprise light that has already passed through a material. Painters can thus use subtractive colors to create something that looks black.

Printing technology also uses the subtractive method of color mixing, including Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. This, perhaps, is why printable subtractive color results are called CMYK, representing the different colors used in their mixture.

How Can Digital And Print Designers Leverage Black And White Shades?

White and Black seem like the essential shades in designing because they help express light and shade.

Black and white are very effective shades in conveying different moods, just like other colors that designers think are bright and beautiful. If any design doesn’t look good in Black or white, it won’t look good in just any other color. A designer may start by creating a new color by working in the grayscale level that only comprises black or white shades.

This step will help the designer focus on the shading and composition of the piece of work. You can take action further by using the Adobe design feature or photoshop or leave the black and white state.

The Significance Of The Black Shades

Black is a definite shade and can be regarded as the color of borders and authority. Though there are many negative associations with Black, it remains the most intriguing shade.

1. The Physical Effects of Black

Since Black absorbs all the light and reflects no color, it has remained a low-energy shade. Though it is used in contrast with white, black alone can create some sense of depression and can dampen your mood.

The black lines on white paper, though, can help convey ideas; hence Black is one of the best communicative colors out there.

When it comes to describing the physical attributes of black, you can say it represents sophistication, power, elegance, Drama, and mystery.

2. The Symbolism of Black

Black symbolizes darkness, evil, and despair. Symbolically, Black is used in conveying authority and certainty. When used in contrast to white, it could symbolize an eternal struggle between right and wrong, good and evil. Black evokes strong emotions and it represents power and formality.

What are the Positive and Negative Associations with Black?

We often think of Black as being sophisticated and serious. One positive thing about it is that it has become one of the most preferred colors for formal attires. That black dress is always a timeless attire that is appropriate for just any occasion.

Black is always unambiguous, but definite in every way. It can be dramatic and even helps in creating some feeling of certainty.

On the negative side, Black can become a sober hue that is mostly associated with mourning. It can reveal some wrong-doing. Black can also be frightening because it conceals and does not illuminate. The darkest time of the night for instance could be the perfect cover for many bad behaviors. Designers often think that too much of Black in any design can become dull and overwhelming.

3. People and Bands Associate with Black

Black is the signature color of many famous people. A signature color is different to other colors, and Black shows better expression of ideologies. Music Icon Johnny Cash, Fashion guru Coco Chanel, and computer wizard- Steve Jobs all use black as their signature colors at some point, and some still use it. Steve Jobs for instance, was famous for wearing black outfits most times in public.

Popular brands that currently associate with black include; Sony, Uber, Dolce & Gabbana, New York Times, Mercedes Benz, Honda, Gilette, Puma, Prada, Ralph Lauren, and Accenture.

Black has also been always influential in our sense of taste for a very long time. In 2014, for instance, Burger King introduced the Black KURO Pearl, a famous black burger that was widely accepted. Today, black pepper has become one of the most essential commodities because of the numerous health benefits and taste enhancements it brings to different dishes.


Black has always remained a shade and not a color. It can be turned into different hues varying from dull black to very strong Black. When designers want to make their jobs darker, they tend to mix in more Black before they consider just any other shade. With a shade of Black, you can change the feel and texture of any final piece of art. On the human angle side, Black can be found all around us. The black flowers in the garden are often referred to as black magic flowers can create some feelings of mystical expectation. Black is useful in many ways that other colors can’t be compared.

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