Are BLACK & WHITE Colors?

Are BLACK & WHITE colors? Some people may say “yes” and others will argue the opposite. This is an age-old question that haunts us and needs exploration to come to any conclusions.

Any artist will tell you that BLACK & WHITE are very important in the mixing process. You can visit my blog post How to Use TINTS, SHADES & TONES When Creating to see how important they really are.

But are they classified as colors? Could it be that the answer is both “yes” and “no”?

Don’t you hate it when you ask a question and the answer is “well, that depends”. This seems to be one of those annoying scenarios. Let me explain with the help of this great website

The answer to this question is going to depend on one major factor. In what world are you referring to?

Remember back when we were discussing color mixing with the color RED? Visit my blog post Shades of Computer REDS and Their Hexcodes to jog your memory. This is where I introduced the way color mixes in the 2 different worlds – the physical world and the virtual world.

In the physical world, color is mixed using paints or inks. It is a messy process that involves the mixing of colors using the SUBTRACTIVE method where yellow, magenta and cyan in equal measure creates pure BLACK paint or ink. You can mix all 3 primary colors – red, yellow and blue – for similar results.

In this case, BLACK is indeed a color. However, when mixing colors using the subtractive method, there is absolutely no way to create WHITE. WHITE, in fact, is “nothing”, so therefore it cannot be a color.

However, on the flip side, an argument could be made that white paint from a tube is made from chemicals titanium or zinc. So then the answer could be that WHITE is indeed a color.

Now, let’s look at the virtual world where color is made up of light.

Using the ADDITIVE method, all the spectral colors of the rainbow come together to create WHITE light.

Therefore, WHITE can be created and is indeed a color.

The only way to make BLACK in a virtual world is to remove all light & colors of light. “Nothing” is left. BLACK, in this case, is “nothing” and, therefore, cannot be a color.

This can make for a very interesting discussion, but at the end of the day, does it really matter that BLACK & WHITE are defined as colors?

The importance is how can we use BLACK & WHITE to get a desired outcome in the creative process. Visit my blog post How to Use TINTS, SHADES & TONES When Creating to find out how.