How do you get realistic black(s) materials in Unreal Engine?

When creating a black material you should not be using 0 sRGB values. Ben Cloward says the range of sRGB values should be between 20 - 240 to 50 - 240 depending on the roughness values. The lead lighting artist on Star Wars Battlefront II, did a tutorial for Emiel Sleegers and Fast Track Tutorials, said that their Base Colour for Darth Vader’s Helmet was around 40.

Could someone please explain to me the steps in order to use these sorts of values in order to get them to actually look black. Every time I do this I think “This is great I am using the correct sort of values” but the result is grey and I end up giving in to a much lower than realistic value.

I understand tone mapping is supposedly the solution. Could someone please point me in the correct direction?

This picture shows my scene on the left, the material sphere on the top right, the sRGB colour wheel on the middle right, and lower right my reference image. The value is at 0.097 which is already a value of 25 sRGB (the value of the blackest materials from Quixel Megasacans)


Even tho the value might be correct. The overall scene need tweaking as well - Post Process for instance can give good result. I did not see the tutorials you are mentioning but if they have no skylights and a value of 40, you’ll not getting the same black in a full day light scenario.

That said, I always recommend to follow this tutorial in order to get a good start with neutral setup and understanding the lighting process in Unreal: UE4 Neutral Lighting Scene Setup - YouTube

If you want to see your color value without any modification, then you can go on the top of your viewport and click on ‘lit’ and select ‘buffer visualizer’ then ‘base color’. This will show you the right values. Keep in mind that in the lit scene, there is a combination of Base color, Specular (0.5) and roughness. Look dev is really more complex than a single value, there is a lot to take in consideration.

Hope it help a bit :slight_smile:


Your converted value isn’t correct. The inputs for colors are a linear, float value, but you can make it easier if you have the hex value from Photoshop and plug it into the Hex sRGB input. Hex Linear 191919 is the correct value, it’s just in the wrong input.


Thank you for the video. I have watched and set up the scene, will be good to use as a asset and material viewer for my project and future ones!

I have been using the visualise base colour as well as HDR (Eye Adaptation) in order to get the lighting to be balance in my scene - obviously only first pass at the moment, so not perfect.

The video of the neutral scene is good though and using the SM_ColourCalibrator asset is definitely something I should be using along with the midgrey values. Thanks again.


Yeah I was literally just pondering that whilst watching the video @KrimsonGames mentioned above. The tutor says that mid-grey is 0.18 not 0.5 and I then thought maybe I have been entering sRGB values into a linear colour space!

Thank you for pointing this out!


This is 25 sRGB or 191919FF entered into the Hex Linear vs Hex sRGB.

Ben Cloward’s sRGB Value Explanation: Basics of PBR - UE4 Materials 101 - Episode 2 - YouTube


So, is it fixed now ? :slight_smile:

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Yes, the main issue was inputting sRGB values into the linear colour space.

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