There was a famous blog post by Ian Taylor called "Never use black", in which he explained that one should never use pure, complete RGB 0-0-0 black, and should instead put a little bit of color or light into it.

Does the same principle apply for white? Is is possible to use pure RGB 255-255-255 white in, say, a poster with dark background? Or should the white be similarly muted?

  • 6
    I suppose you'd have to ask Ian Taylor given that it seems to be his theory.
    – DA01
    May 13, 2013 at 23:59

2 Answers 2


I don't know how "famous" the blog post is. The theory that black is unnatural is a standard which has existed well before August 2012 and dates back to the masters who rarely used black when painting.

To answer your question, I'd say no.

While it's true that in nature you never find pure black, the same is not true for white. Using a color other than true white can be exceptionally useful if you wish to create a mood to a piece, but pure white is a natural part of the spectrum unlike true black.

  • That and when you consider printing, it's much easier to have white than it is to have black, right?
    – Hanna
    May 14, 2013 at 15:02
  • In terms of printing white is the absence of ink. So technically there would be no printing in white areas. White areas would show the stock (paper) being printed on.
    – Scott
    May 14, 2013 at 15:22
  • Re: painting. I don't think that it is strictly true that they never use black, but rather they avoided merely tinting (shading) white with black. (I was taught to mix about equal parts burnt umber and ultramarine blue to use as "black" for admixing)
    – horatio
    May 14, 2013 at 15:23
  • I posted "rarely" :)
    – Scott
    May 14, 2013 at 15:24
  • Probably bled over from the title :)
    – horatio
    May 14, 2013 at 15:25

same principles should be used for white. the best example is the ranges of white used for the new Animaniacs cartoon. the character designs use a varieties of white and never a pure white.

  • 3
    This is one example of something that doesn't use pure white. What about the many things that do use pure white? Why is it bad? Mar 3, 2021 at 23:03

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