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Design Inspiration: What Colors Go With Black?

Black is an amazing color that can be paired beautifully with a wide range of colors. It can complement bright colors like white, red, and orange as well as cool colors like blues and greens.

Those who love to experiment with different styles prefer to start with this color because you can generate simple and elegant designs to bold and dramatic. 

Examples of Palettes Using the Color Black

1. Monochromatic/Tint

Here is a color palette that uses a single color tint, black. This color palette is simple and uncomplicated. It is a black color scheme that is easy on the eyes and does tie all elements together. Add liveliness to the usually cold palette by adding different shades and hues.  

A. Black + Gray & White

black, gray, and white combination
by: David Faure

2. Black with Warm Colors

Since black is a neutral color, there are a lot of different colors that go with black. By using warm colors with black, you are creating a contrast to the elements. This makes the warm colors more visible with the dark background

A. Black and Red


Zubko Studio

READ: What Colors Go Well With Red?

B. Black and Orange

Dan Iqbal

C. Black and Yellow

In this example, the yellow color is the main color with black being used to ground the elements. It delineates the food from the background.

Immi Eats

3. Black with Cool Colors

You can use brighter colors for more emphasis. 

Here are some colors that go with black you can use using bold and vibrant color palettes.

A. Black and Green

Tony Headrick

B. Black and Blue

Type One Ventures

C. Black and Violet


4. Black with Neutrals/Browns

Neutral colors and lighter hues have a soothing effect. Since black is the strongest of the neutral colors and can appear intimidating, use earth tones like browns to help balance out the black for a calmer effect. 

Ze Tan Design

5. Black with Pastels

Using pastels gives off the right amount of color vibrancy for your elements to pop. But, its muted quality leads to a more soothing effect. What colors go with black will include pastels.

My Design Buddy

Using black in your project is not as daunting as you perceive it to be. It takes trial and error to see which color combination works for you or for your client. You have a multitude of colors in different hues and tones to play around with. 

You can use remove bg or any background remover to help in your projects. They are easy to use and can be found online.


How Can You Use These Black Color Combinations?

With a clear understanding of what colors go with black, let’s see how we can utilize them.

1. ECommerce

Most luxury-focused websites use black color. It exudes elegance, sophistication, and glamor. This gives off the feeling of legitimacy of being a high-class e-commerce website. And, a lot of online buyers are attracted to this color scheme.

Black is also power and authority. E-commerce websites that are focused on technology use black to appear established and a leader in their industry. They use this to build trust with their potential customers.

Remarc Fragrances
True Harvest


2. Website Design

Since the technology is very advanced when it comes to digital projects, you have a plethora of colors that can be combined with the color black.

Usually though, black is used as a background. This is because a black background makes elements or images pop. They become more visible and catch your viewers’ attention. Black color recedes, so images or bright colors stand out. 

Using a black background makes navigating your websites easier. Since it is easier to see bright-colored actionable elements in a dark background.

Yayoi Kusama
Brews & Grooves

READ: Sites to Download Over 100K Free Black Background Images

3. Interior Design

Black is also used in interior design to give a luxurious feel to the room. Especially when you choose black furniture. It is timeless and classic. It also adds a little bit of drama to the room.

Most modern designs call for the black color. It has a timeless elegance that is attractive to a lot of people. Modern black interiors are sophisticated. Adding black elements like light fixtures and furniture must have a sleek and industrial look. Your drapes and linens must have smooth and even texture to complete the look.

Since your interior is dark. Make sure to have enough natural light. Big windows are needed to make your black interior room not appear small or cramped.

Photo from Houzz
Photo from Houzz
Photo from Houzz
Photo from Houzz
Photo from Houzz

4. Graphic Design

In graphic design, black is mainly used for contrast and emphasis. You can direct your viewers’ attention by using contrasts. It creates a powerful message that can sway your viewers’ actions.

Designers know the impact of colors on people’s emotions. Black is one of those powerful colors. It is authority, power, elegance, and boldness. Using the color in your designs depicts that your product is linked to power. Designers use it to express superiority over other brands. 

YWFT / YouWorkForThem | Behance
Adrián Balastegui | Behance
Pedro Correa | Behance
Rokas Aleliūnas | Behance
Aleksandra Czudżak | Behance

5. Photography

More often than not, black and white pictures are seen to be more artistic than colored ones. The reason may be that it is harder to compose. You need to focus on shapes, textures, and contrast to create a strong composition.

You can also say that black and white pictures capture an “honest” picture. It reveals the character of your subject since there are no colors to take your attention away. 

There is a feeling of nostalgia and mystery in black and white. We often associate them with old pictures. It evokes an atmosphere, in a sense. That is why it will not go out of style anytime soon.

CHEN YING | Behance
La Canija Diabla | Behance
Dhyogo Gouveia | Behance
Rana Zohaib Nasir | Behance



READ: 10 Perfect Background Colors for Product Photography

A Detailed Exploration of the Black Color

The History and Cultural Contexts of the Black Color

cottonbro studio | Pexels

The black color boasts a rich history that dates back as far as 3,000 years. 

  • Prehistoric humans used charcoal, a readily available material, to draw cave paintings as seen in southwest France. These artworks portray scenes of hunting of different animals and religious services offered to the gods.
  • In China, by the 23rd century BC, black ink had become a staple for both artists and scribes. They made ink by using charcoal mixed with water to draw, write, and convey information.
  • In the Renaissance Period, artists would often use lamp black—a pigment they got from gathering soot from oil lamps. Some materials were obtained from animals; bone black, which was an accessible product was produced by using animal bones, horns, and other organic products and gained popularity among artists for its deep and intense color. On the other hand, charred ivory,  which was made from elephant tusks was prized for its rich pigment. It was considered a luxury item because of the high cost of obtaining one.
  • In the Mid-15th century, the acquisition of black ink became more widespread because of the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg. His moveable printing press was faster and more efficient, revolutionizing the process of producing books.

The enduring appeal and utility of black throughout history underline its profound impact on art, culture, and technology, proving that this color, perhaps the oldest known to humans, remains as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago.

Cultural Significance

  • Intrinsic Power. The color black is naturally considered to symbolize power and authority because of its association with darkness and shadows. This color is found to be both intimidating and mysterious which often draws people in, as the unknown is both feared and revered in many cultures.
  • Duality and Contrast. Black is known for its versatility. It can represent conflicting ideas such as sin and holiness.  In many cultures, black can signify both the profane and the sacred, serving as a visual representation of life’s complex moral spectrum.
  • Historical Associations. Throughout history, black has been linked with both evil and damnation. It is often used to depict evil forces in literature and art. However, its symbolism evolved during medieval times when clergy began wearing black cassocks as a sign of mourning and penance. This shift marked black’s transformation into a symbol of humility and self-reflection.
  • Symbol of Authority and Prestige. As the Church’s power grew, black clothing began to be seen as a symbol of authority and prestige. The adoption of black by courtiers and royalty further cemented its status as a luxurious and prestigious color. It came to be seen as not just a practical or religious choice but a fashionable one as well.
  • Modern Significance. In contemporary settings, black continues to be seen as dignified, sophisticated, and the ideal choice for formal events. Choosing black clothing can convey a sense of seriousness and elegance, making it the preferred color for many looking to project wealth and an upscale image.
  • Rebellious Connotations. The color black took on new meaning with the Punk Movement of the 1970s, symbolizing rebellion and non-conformity. The iconic punk look includes black leather jackets, shredded clothing, and an array of patches and pins, which serve as symbols of resistance against societal norms. This fashion choice underscores a broader message of individuality and resistance against authority.
  • Enduring Influence. The rebellious spirit associated with black during the punk era continues to resonate in modern fashion and culture. Black remains a powerful symbol of individuality and non-conformity, influencing not just the world of fashion but also attitudes and ideologies about self-expression and defiance.

Symbolisms and Meanings

1. Black in mourning and grief

Most of the Western cultures associate black with mourning and grief. This could be seen as far as the time of the Roman Empire. The color is used to show that you are grieving for the loss of the soul and showing sadness. It is also a symbol of giving respect to the person who passed away.

Wearing black for mourning became common, though, when Queen Victoria of England wore the color for 40 years after the passing of her husband Prince Albert in 1861. 

2. Black in authority and power

The color at first was for the clergy to be reminded of their penance. Since it is a color of mourning, they are to live a life of humility and service to the people. But with the Church’s dominance, the clergy who wore the color gained power.  The royals and the nobility soon followed in wearing black to present themselves as powerful and authoritative. 

3. Black in fashion and elegance

Popularized by Audrey Hepburn in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the ‘little black dress’ became a must-have item in every wardrobe. The dress is simple but sophisticated. It shows a just amount of skin for it to be sexy but not enough to be seen as vulgar. And, since the black color does have a slimming effect on the body, it compliments perfectly for any body type. 

Black is a staple color in the fashion industry. Study shows that 33% of consumers prefer black-colored clothes. This is because it is rich and glamorous without needing too many bells and whistles. It is a neutral color so there are a lot of colors that go well with black. Coordinating outfits is easier. You will not become limited by what colors go with black.

Evolution of the Black Color’s Perception Over Time

As in all things, change is always constant. Human perception will evolve as time passes by. 

The black color started as the color of evil and darkness. Everything bad is allocated for this color. Grief and mourning are also associated with this color. It seems that there is always a negative connotation when it comes to the color.

When the clergy and the nobility started wearing them, they became a symbol of power and prestige. The 70’s and 80’s youth movements made black the color for rebellion and non-conformity. Later on, the color became synonymous with glamour and luxury.

Nowadays, the color enjoys a multitude of meanings and symbolism. It will keep on evolving as more people find new ways to use the color black. 

Your Turn

Greta Hoffman | Pexels

Black is an intimidating color. 

It seems all-encompassing and drowning is a legitimate concern, figuratively speaking that is. But everything is surmountable if you only try. 

Black may be the color of the unknown. But, it is also the color of power and self-confidence. The color’s duality is what makes it fascinating to use. It has hidden depths that add interest to your work. Use these qualities and take advantage of them.

Who knows what you might end up with? Try it out!

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