Wargaming Tradecraft: Black 2.0 - Worth the Hype?


Black 2.0 - Worth the Hype?

I've seen a lot of questions about the validity of Black 2.0, supposedly "The world’s mattest, flattest, black art material" (According to their website.) and decided to order a bottle and find out the answer myself since most articles about this product are just re-using the same imagery from the company behind it.

update: I'm tagging this post with Black 3.0 as well because people should have a legitimate review of the product. Other reviews of Black 3.0 are just using Kickstarter marketing materials. My concern with what Black 3.0 will actually be like is based on their 2.0 marketing images (as you can see below) and what the product actually looked like when I tested it. Decide for yourself, but this is another instance of why I won't post reviews based on marketing images.


Before getting into the review, a quick look at the baseline of what we're aiming for. Basically, a company called Surrey NanoSystems developed a paint called Vantablack which absorbs 99.96% of light that hits it. Without light reflecting from objects, all you see is a black blob without any detail no matter what angle you're looking at it.

Unfortunately, an artist named Anish Kapoor bought exclusive rights to this paint, which means we're not going to get access to this stuff any time soon.

What I'm going to look at here is a paint that bills itself as the next best thing.

Black 2.0

This paint is sold by Culture Hustle from Stuart Semple at a reasonable price (Certainly cheap enough for yours truly to try it out.) and if you take the images on the website at face value and comparisons being constantly drawn between the two products by the developer and media alike, creates nearly the same effect as Vantablack.

Black 2.0 Large Scale image via Stuart Semple's website
Black 2.0 Small Scale gif via Stuart Semple's website
My Attempts

So how does it hold up? Below you'll see a miniature painted by myself using their product. (I also started with a white primer.)

Hmmm, well that was disappointing. But this photo was taken at my painting desk with a neon light directly above. Lets put the mini off to the side of my hobby area out of the strong direct light...

That doesn't look quite right either. Maybe a few other angles of the source?

Only the parts that are wet look really strongly black.

I tried a second coat, thicker than the first. The miniature does appear a little darker, but still has plenty of highlights in the grey spectrum and details are definitely starting to get obscured from the thicker coating.

A Quick Comparison

From left to right: Games Workshop Chaos Black spray primer, Liquitex Artist Materials Black Gesso, Stuart Semple Black 2.0
  • Chaos Black
    • Has more of a semi-gloss finish and appears darker than the rest.
    • When light hits it, washes out to white.
    • Details are crisp.
    • Smooth finish.
  • Black Gesso
    • Finish is closer to matte but still has a little gloss, kind of an egg shell.
    • Has a little bit more grey to the overall appearance, especially when light hits it.
    • Details are fairly easy to see
    • Smooth finish, but with some teeth.
  • Black 2.0
    • Very matte finish with smooth gradients.
    • Ranges of light to dark grey depending on how the light hits the object.
    • Details can get somewhat obscured with the thicker paint.
    • Slightly rough finish.

One more photo before I wrap things up...

Stuart has a video on YouTube where he demonstrates some of the uses of Black 2.0. It cuts away from this quickly, but in normal lighting his unicorn head is a simple matte black object with shadow and highlights creating definition.

While the close up in the next shot suggests a much more void-like appearance.


Games Workshop Chaos Black looks darker than Black 2.0. The bottle it ships in looks darker than Black 2.0. Honestly, just about any black I've used appears darker than Black 2.0. To it's credit, Black 2.0 is absolutely a very flat, matte black as advertised. To say that it reflects less light than other black paints is accurate - that Games Workshop primer reflected light so strongly parts became white, but technically looked darker overall. I feel like confusion is generated by marketing this as a super-matte paint while also comparing it to Vantablack since both products seem designed for different things. Vantablack is uniquely designed to absorb almost all light, while Black 2.0's ultra-matte finish does reduce light reflection but also creates grey highlights across the surface of objects.

Lack of light-absorption aside, the surface isn't bad. It's a thick paint so you need to be careful not to obscure finer details, but you can see from my first photo that the detail is still there when you don't use it too heavily. The paint goes on well and smoothly. It provides a somewhat rough surface with strong well-pigmented coverage. Not bad to paint over, but not the smoothest compared to what miniature artists might be used to. I'd compare it to fine-grit wet sandpaper.

Maybe in the right light, someone could reproduce the example photos Stuart uses on his website and social media to market Black 2.0, but I certainly didn't experience the depth of blackness his images imply. It's possible this stuff comes across better on a larger scale, but other people seem to have experiences similar to mine where while it's definitely a dark black paint, the ultra-matte finish ends up with clear grey highlights.

If you want a very matte black that provides smooth light gradients, then maybe this product is for you. If you're looking to stare into the abyss like the marketing images suggest, then you're probably going to have to wait for something else. Ultimately that's what I expected to get when I saw the images on the website. I'm not saying it's a bad product, just don't expect your application to be quite as dark as the images on the site imply. At the price it's selling for, you can certainly afford to pick up a bottle if you still think you might have a use for it and want to try it out.

Have you tried the product? Please share your experiences in the comments.
If you have an alternate solution on how to create the effect of staring into pure darkness, I'd love to hear it - especially as I'm starting to wrap up my Forsaken Fennblades unit. (Would love some eerily dark eyes.)

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