Black 2.0 Review

August 1, 2017

This has actually been in the works for some time now. If my digital mock up means anything, this work has been getting pecked at since April! It all started with some black paint…

Stuart Semple has this paint available called “Black 2.0” which is billed as the Blackest Black available. There’s a whole story behind why Stuart Semple made this black, which involves a lot of funny things and a fued between him and artist Anish Kapoor about Vantablack. I saw a sample of it online and just had to have some. No idea what I was going to do with it, what would make the most sense to try it out on or what would look most successful in it, but I doodled something up. I wanted to work on a longer canvas, and I wanted to give a sort of brightness and darkness to it. I knew I wanted to use contrasting blackest black and the whitest white I could get (heavy body titanium white, nothing special). So I ordered. And I waited for the Blackest Black to come in from the UK.

I decided that I wanted to build up Azra’s wings with some modeling paste. I mean, why use the blackest black if you’re not putting it on something that actually has form if you touch it? I started the painting and even live streamed some of how I started. It was important that I kept these materials all acrylic and acrylic loving because blackest black is water based and plays well with acrylics, not oils unfortunately. Its matte nature does that, I suppose.

When I got the black in, I did some test runs with the modeling paste and some extra tiny canvases to see how it looked. I just went with a feather and a single layer of the modeling paste, layered the black on top of that. I learned a few things from that… I needed to put down a black base to get ultimate black out of the blackest black.

When you’re working with the blackest black, it’s really interesting because it’s glossy before it dries. It takes a bit longer than traditional black acrylic to dry, and it smells good — like black cherry I think it is. So you really get to see the black come out as it dries. Here’s a comparison of regular acrylic black and blackest Black 2.0:

I swear there was NO tomfoolery or Photoshop there. The camera really picks up the difference. It’s striking, really. Your eye picks up way more light than a camera, however, so it doesn’t quite look so void-y in person, but it’s still disturbingly a lot more black than a standard matte black.

I started building up the wings in layers:

And then I started putting down the base colors:

And here’s another photo that shows (with more light) the difference between standard acrylic black and Black 2.0:

I decided to print on cardstock my Azra, since… Why draw him twice? And then paint over him to match:

Added some copper leaf:

Some final touchups and some varnish on everything but the blackest black, and I’m ready to call it done!

Check out these photos I took of the final product. One is just a general all over lighting:

Azra Painting Black 2.0

The next is with tons of sunlight hitting it from the top so you can actually see all the texture I put in:

Azra Blackest Black Texture

And then one that really shows the blackest Black 2.0 in the sunlight, because the camera tends to focus on the lighter parts of the painting more:

Blackest Black 2.0

It really shows how black the Black 2.0 really is on camera, it’s a bit less striking in person, but it’s still there. Overall, I really like it. It takes a few coats to get full coverage in a lot of things, but a little bit of it goes a long way. It’s non-toxic and smells great. Most of all, it’s available to ALL artists. Well, all artists except Anish Kapoor.

Stuart Semple has all kinds of awesome new paints out, too, including a mood-ring like paint called “Shift” that allows a piece to change based on temperature. SO AWESOME. I might try that next, if I can figure out an application for it!

Aimee Cozza is a freelance illustrator out of Southern New Hampshire. She graduated from the New Hampshire Institute of Art in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in illustration. Since then, she has been working in a variety of ways completing various illustrations for clients, friends, and for herself.

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