Black 3.0 vs Vantablack VBx2 vs Musou Black: Which is the World's Blackest Paint?

Black 3.0 vs Musou Black

A little bit of black history: Anish Kapoor vs Stuart Semple

In 2016, an Indian-born British artist named Anish Kapoor was given exclusive rights to use Vantablack, the darkest material in the world with an absorption rate of 99.96%. This sparked a furious reaction from fellow artists; some have stated that they have never heard of an artist monopolizing a material, while others stated that this was downright immoral. One artist in particular, Stuart Semple, retaliated by developing his own "blackest black" paint that was made available for everyone to use, all except for Anish Kapoor.  

Black 3.0

Black 3.0

As the name suggests, this is Stuart Semple's third effort to develop the blackest black paint. Black 3.0's predecessor, "Black 2.0" was released back in March of 2017 with a visible light absorption rate of 95%.


Around 2 years later, on January 28th, 2019, funding for Black 3.0 began on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, promoting it as the "World's Blackest Black". They claimed that this paint has a visible light absorption rate of 99%! In just three and a half months, they collected around 634,000 USD.  A monumental success, as this is 2000% more than the amount of their project goal. Many people were excited to get their hands on a bottle and try it out themselves, as were we.


During the fundraiser, we got our hands on a bottle of 3.0 and have made comparisons with other black paints. You can check out that comparison here

Musou Black

Musou Black purchase

Around 1 year later, on the other side of the world, a new black paint was born. Inspired by Stuart Semple's achievement of developing an extremely black paint that anyone could use, we have developed Black 3.0's blacker successor: "Musou Black." Musou Black is a water-based acrylic paint with an astonishing light absorption rate of 99.4%! Its light absorbing performance is similar to that of our FineShut series, but as a water-based paint! For more information click here.


*Musou Black is now available for purchase! 

Comparison between Black 3.0 & Musou Black

Black 3.0 vs Musou Black

As you can see here, Black 3.0 is no longer the "World's Blackest Black" paint. After testing, we found out that Black 3.0's actual absorption rate is around 97.5%. Although Black 3.0's and Musou Black's absorption rates are relatively close (Black 3.0=97.5%, Musou Black=99.4%), the 1.9% difference between the two paints makes a huge difference, as you can see in the above photo. Musou Black has an extremely matte texture, making it is easy to make a non-reflective surface. It is time to pass the black crown onto the next generation of black. 

One Step Closer to Anish Kapoor and Vantablack

Inspired by Black 3.0, we have developed Musou Black in hopes of achieving Stuart Semple's dream and create the new generation of the "World's Blackest Black" that is available for everyone to use. With Musou Black, we are one step closer to Anish Kapoor and Vantablack. Each step we take will bring us closer until finally, we'll be standing side by side. And then, perhaps one day, we will be one step ahead.

Black 3.0 vs Musou Black, Vantablack

Bonus comparison: Vantablack VBX2

Right now, you may be thinking "Well, what about Vantablack then? Isn't that the darkest thing in the world?" And yes, you are correct. Vantablack is the world's darkest MATERIAL, it is not a paint. Vantablack is made out of carbon nanotubes  that achieves its astonishing 99.96% absorption rate. With that being said, Surrey Nanosystems (the developer of Vantablack) has developed a paint version of Vantablack called "Vantablack VBx2." This paint was used in their collaboration with BMW. According to their catalog, the absorption rate of this paint is 99%. 


Although the difference may seem small, this means that Musou Black is darker with its 99.4% absorption rate.

The World's Blackest Paint title goes to...


♛ MUSOU BLACK (99.4% absorption rate).


Second place goes to... Vantablack VBx2 (99% absorption rate).


Third place goes to... Black 3.0 (97.5% absorption rate).

Thank you for reading until the end! We hope you enjoyed and hope that everyone is well! Until next time, take care!


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Musou Black is now available for purchase!

Purchase Musou Black here!

Comments: 17
  • #17 (Thursday, 04 November 2021 23:22)

    did you test " musou black " fitting by hand-painting on plastic instrumental panel of cars against reflections? (before having prepared the panel with an primer)
    since years I fixed a black t-shirt on instrumental panel against reflecions on front window. its only reducing but avoiding enough.
    greetings by albert from bavaria in germany

  • #16

    jeremy barriel (Thursday, 16 September 2021 18:14)

    What is the colour code of Musou black?

  • #15

    Paul Berryman (Thursday, 22 July 2021 16:32)

    I've spent a good chunk of time and money chasing the blackest possible results for works that I make which really need "the blackest" effects possible. Black 3.0 looked great against other blacks when I first ordered it, but was nowhere near the levels of "black hole" that the ridiculous photography in it's promotional materials claimed. Sure, we're always going see advertising that matches the bold claims of the product, but the gulf between advertised blackness and reality was so big, I can't accept it was an accident - I felt disappointed with the product and the hyperbole around it. Enter Musuo and a very expensive import later I'm getting somewhere - it's way blacker than 3.0, and seems to apply much easier too. It is super sensitive to touch in my experience, like true vanta black which drinks light in using carbon nanotubes, Musuo seems to use the "tooth" in its surface structure to capture light, but if that surface (which is very delicate in my experience) gets touched or brushed, then it immediately "shines" and stops being as black. For those that are asking about using other paints over the surface to improve the robustness of the finish this last point about surface texture is also relevant - if you cover the surface with a.n.other finish you lose the blackness - simple as that, it's the texture not the pigment that does the heavy lifting in absorption of light. Overall I'm glad these guys have bothered to chase this blackness thing down as hard as they have, it's helping me to crystallise some of my best creative ideas into unique and quite stunning artworks. Long may the race to ultimate blackness continue!

  • #14

    Mike (Thursday, 03 June 2021 01:17)

    So having now gotten my order for musou black and played around with it a bit, I can say that it is not only darker than Black 3.0, but also easier to work with when brushed on, as well as easier to use with an airbrush. It does not require the care in drying between layers that Black 3.0 does, I had anticipated that gain in blackness would come with a high price in terms of fragility, but musou black, especially when brushed on, tolerates light handling at least as well as black 3.0. Granted, I always painted on a primer layer, but even when airbrushed on, it did not come off as easily as the videos from Ko-pro would have you believe. I greatly respect the fight that Stuart Semple has waged to bring the blackest blacks to artists and the inspiration it has brought to others to push the limits of what black paint can do. Without his efforts, vantablack alterative nanotubule based coatings such as Nanolab's Singularity Black (developed for scientific instruments in space) probably wouldn't have been released to artists and Ko-pro might not have brought us musou black paint. Which is why I say with a certain pain, that musou black is not only blacker than Black 3.0, it is also much less finicky and over all easier to use, while it tolerates handling as least as well. It is a better blackest paint. It is also increasingly available, at least in the USA, via sellers on eBay.

  • #13

    Mike (Friday, 02 April 2021 17:24)

    @Mjv. Black 3.0 is much more finicky than black 2.0, which handles much more like a standard craft paint. Following the suggestions on the culture hustle web site about its use are less suggestions and more like requirements. It is definitely prone to blotchiness unless each layer is of consistent thickness and bone dry before the next. Airbrushing gave better results but it must be thinned and I found it hard to know how much it could be thinned. Maybe that’s just my poor airbrush skills. You may have been better served by black 2, which is less expensive too. But paint a black craft paint square to compare and you’ll realize you did get something for the CA$ you spent. Regular craft black will look grey. Even the worst results with black 3 will be much darker and seem less obvious.. One of the best uses of black 3 Jan my hands was when I was also using conventional blacks. It’s darkness pops out at you ( drops out?)..
    I’m eager to try out the mosou black I just ordered and see how it fits in. From what l I’ve read it sounds like it fits the rule that the more light it absorbs the more fragile the coating. As for other qualities lien ease of handling obtaining consistent results, I should find out soon.

  • #12

    Mjv (Sunday, 14 March 2021 20:25)

    Used black 3.0 for a acrylic space painting. To say it was disappointing is an understatement. Cost me $60 cad, it required 3 coats and still is blotchy, and isn’t what I expected at all. I think I can get close to the same if not better results from a $3 bottle from a craft store.

  • #11

    Eric (Friday, 26 February 2021 12:05)

    Are you working to make import to the US easier?

  • #10

    Jan (Tuesday, 16 February 2021 13:19)

    Hi, will you sell some products which have musou black applied on them? I mean watches, rings, glasses, phone cases etc.

  • #9

    Ben (Friday, 29 January 2021 14:49)

    Can it be used in epoxy, and how long will the color last under light when locked into an epoxy like medium?

  • #8

    Kim (Thursday, 21 January 2021 01:35)

    You can say Black 3.0 reflects 4.0x more light than Mosou or Mosou is 4.0x darker than Black 3.0, but Mosou doesn't absorb 4x more light. It just absorbs visible light 99.4/97.5 times than Black 3.0.

  • #7

    Sam (Saturday, 16 January 2021 09:46)

    To those who say it doesn't look very black in the pictures:
    That's because of how cameras work. If you use a huge amount of light and a camera with massive lens and sensor, that 0.6% reflected light will seem like a lot. In contrast, you can make any old black look like musou on a picture by fiddling with camera exposure settings.

    I think they took pictures like this to better compare different blacks. Under normal lighting with the human eye, all of those paints should look way darker.

  • #6

    Misprint (Tuesday, 12 January 2021 18:16)

    You misprinted this:

    "To put it in an easier to grasp perspective Black 3.0 reflects 2.5% while Mosou reflects 0.6%. So Mosou reflects over 4x more light."

    You mean to say Black 3.0 reflects 4x more light or Mosou Absorbs 4x more light...


  • #5

    John (Tuesday, 05 January 2021 15:05)

    For anything beyond art, the absorption number of 99.4% isn't very useful--no matter how you want to do a comparison. For those of us who want to use Musou black for optical applications, the important thing is the absorptivity as a function of wavelength. Solid state sensors are sensitive to NIR so it would be useful to see how black Musou is from say 0.3 - 3 microns. It would also be useful to know how the reflectivity varies with angle of incidence. And for Nick...a "gloss" overcoat may indeed help durability a bit but it will surely make the coating more reflective.

  • #4

    Nick (Sunday, 13 December 2020 01:49)

    Can you paint gloss over the top to improve durability?

  • #3

    Mike (Wednesday, 09 December 2020 10:28)

    Neither of those look very black at all, especially viewing on an oled screen.

  • #2

    Nathan (Thursday, 19 November 2020 10:55)

    While the difference between 97.5 and 99.4 may only seem like a difference of 1.9%.
    However when we look at the amount of light reflected, of 2.5%.6% and 0.6% (as that's how we measure darkness)
    Musou Black is more than 4 times as dark as Black 3.0.
    Also it's 1.6 times darker than Vantablack VBX2.

  • #1

    Mikolaj (Sunday, 15 November 2020 08:31)

    Just wanted to say that saying that 97.5% and 99.4% are kinda close or that 99.0% is close to 99.4% is misleading.

    To put it in an easier to grasp perspective Black 3.0 reflects 2.5% while Mosou reflects 0.6%. So Mosou reflects over 4x more light.

    Same with the 99 vs 99.4 that is reflecting 1% vs 0.6% of light which still means that VBx2 reflects 67% more !

    I think most can agree that presenting data this way makes that information much clearer and obvious.