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Difference Between Black and Off-Black

Black vs Off-Black

Black and off-black are both colors. More specifically, they are shades of the color black.

When we talk about black and off-black, we are actually, referring to the intensity of the color black rather than the shades. The difference between shades and intensity is that shades are achieved by the addition of another color to a particular color whereas intensity is achieved by adding either white or black to a particular color.

The intensity of a color can be increased by adding black to it, and the intensity can be reduced by adding white to it. “Black,” in most cases, refers to “jet black,” which means the darkest black possible whereas “off-black” refers to a black which has less intensity, and it is more towards very dark gray than black. Now the question arises, how is a gray color achieved? Simply by adding white to the darkest black until the desired deep gray or off-black is achieved.

Every company which makes paints for homes or other paints for painting, etc. has their own shade book which has different blacks. No two companies have the same shades or intensity of colors because the whites and blacks and other colors added to a particular color to achieve a desired color does not have a formula. And if a formula is finally achieved by a company, it gets patented by the company.

The same applies to companies who make hairpieces and weaves, hair dyes, and other cosmetics like eye liners, nail colors, lipsticks, etc. All the companies which produce different black products have different shades of black: jet black, ebony black, off-black, and so on. One can choose from amongst these blacks accordingly.

Garment companies and companies who process granite, etc. also offer different shades of black to choose from. It has been observed that black usually refers to the darkest black available in all cases. Off-black is the black which has less intensity, meaning a lighter shade of black, more towards gray than black, but so dark that it looks almost black.

Fashion industries, interior design industries, hair care industries, cosmetic industries, and many others offer various options of black to choose from. It is advisable that one should choose these blacks with caution because they all look the same from a distance, but when put next to each other, the difference is drastic even if there is a slight difference in the intensity. People trying to match black and off-black should always depend upon a swatch rather than their memory as the memory alone cannot match two different intensities of black.


1.Black and off-black are two different shades of the color black.
2.The intensities of black and off-black are different which means that the white and black color added to these two shades is different from each other. Black is black in totality, and off-black has white added to black, thus making it very close to dark gray.

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1 Comment

  1. I gave you 1 star because I couldn’t give you 0. Nothing you wrote was helpful. Most of what you wrote was obvious.

    Yes, to get off-black you add white which makes it a shade of gray. Yes, it is *a* dark gray.

    I was looking for a more definitive term, like how much does the black have to be reduced for the eye to perceive it as being not black?

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