I'm trying to do a Graphic Design of some blocks using a certain color palette.

You have no image support

The way I did the highlight and shadow colors is to multiply the colors by 2 and 0.5 respectively, clipping if needed.

With black, what happens is that it looks like it's been painted with Black 2.0 and vantablack (they're blacks that absorb almost all light).

What do I do?

A simple fix would be to simply draw an imaginary dark gray for black highlight.

Link to project: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/226893795/

  • 2
    What software are you using? The black brick should only show the highlights as in the blue. Maybe you should change the blending mode for the black.
    – user120647
    Jun 1, 2018 at 7:20
  • Would you mind embedding the image in GDSE instead of using imgur, please? Some of us are behind firewalls that actually block certain sites.
    – Paul
    Jun 1, 2018 at 7:27
  • I used 3 softwares: my brain to select the highlight and shadow algorithm, RealWorld Cursor Editor to multiply the colors, and Paint (not the s*itty Vista or 7 or 3D version but the XP version). Only the first one (my brain) is relevant to how the highlights and shadows look, the other programs just help me put the ideas in real life. Jun 1, 2018 at 7:30
  • By the way, the palette is Arne's 8 color palette from pixelation.org/index.php?topic=8408.msg94920#msg94920 Jun 1, 2018 at 7:37
  • "What software are you using? The black brick should only show the highlights as in the blue. Maybe you should change the blending mode for the black." The dark blue blocks do have shadows, but they're a bit harder to see because dark blue is already quite dark. The final project, scratch.mit.edu/projects/226893795, uses a dark gray highlight for black. Jun 1, 2018 at 13:00

3 Answers 3


I don't really understand the question to be honest. The black would need to break your formula to maintain a viable visual appearance. Using lighter shades to indicate where shadows fall in other colors and, well, no idea why you set the highlight to black as well.

You won't be able to use one single formula for every color. Black and white typically take other consideration.

  • "no idea why you set the highlight to black as well" That's just to test how the blocks will look in this highlight and shadow formula. Jun 1, 2018 at 10:58
  • 1
    @PiotrGrochowski, Now you know that perception and formulas do not have a linear correlated relationship. Good math, bad perception; or, vice versa. : ) Welcome to our world.
    – Stan
    Jun 1, 2018 at 18:36
  • No, I don't. The black blocks in the image sample would look realistic if they were made of vantablack. Breaking the math is for artistic appearance, and has nothing to do with perception. Jun 3, 2018 at 7:11

A well-lit irregularly-shaped high-gloss finish black object will exhibit white highlights where the luminary is reflected toward the viewer.

A well-lit irregularly-shaped semi-gloss finish black object will exhibit grey highlights where the luminary has a retro-reflecting surface toward the viewer.

Either of these physical phenomena can be demonstrated by simple means in real life.

It is entirely possible that a mathematical formulation of this (above experimental observation) using an arbitrary (limited, truncated, discontinuous, etc.) contrast scale will fail to represent reality with any fidelity.

Therefore, abandon one of your fixed conditions. Use what we call an "artist's interpretation" of the expected results. In other words, cheat!

  • This is from a fellow MIT alumnus, BTW.
    – Stan
    Jun 1, 2018 at 19:10

RealWorld Cursor Editor is a capable multilayer raster image painting program & editor for its intended purpose. You can use layers+blending modes to make shadows and highlights. There are plenty of possiblities. You can for example use blending mode "replace brightness". If you add separate layers for making the shadows and highlights, you can have different blending modes, too.

BTW full black has no room for shadows just like white has no room for highlights. Consider to use less extreme greys instead.

  • As I said, the computer software does not matter much, my brain does. For the highlight colors, I just _add_ed two layers containing the palette together. For shadow colors, I had the palette layer underneath the 127 alpha black layer. Jun 1, 2018 at 10:51

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