Tibetan artists used five main types of background colours for their Thangkas:
- Thangkas with bright, colorless ground [tib.: bris thang], which was covered with colour. The majority of Tibetan Thangkas belongs to this kind of paintings.
- Red ground [tib.: msthal thang], on which they painted golden outlines and areas filled in in gold. In general, paintings ith red and gold backgrounds depict peaceful deities. The colour of the red background is vermilion [tib. tse], obtained by chrushing cinnabar in a mortar and adding a weak solution of animal glue.
- Pure gold ground [ tib. gser thang] (usually deadened), to which only thin outlines in red or black or high gloss gold were applied. Among the particular gems of Tibetan art are the scroll paintings done on a gold ground since not only the material itself intrinsically precious but they also call for a great deal for skill and sureness of hand.
- Black ground [tib. nag thang], on which the picture was painted in white, coloured or golden outlines. When the deities are shown against an all-black ground, they are like visions emerging from impenetrable darkness. Portrayals of the tutelary deities ere evoked in special rites performed only by initiated monks. Black is the colour of the transformation of all elements, and black grounds are reserved mostly for the angry tutelary deities whose secret rites called for on the part of the votary special training. The deity himself is usually depicted in thin gold lines or alternatively in white, to make him stand out against the black ground.
- White ground [tib. dkar thang], only very few colors are used to create the goddesses and symbols on these paintings. You will find only very few examples of these Thangkas on the market because only very high skilled artists are able to create them. Corrections during the painting process are impossile.
- Furthermore Dharmapala Thangka Centre offers also the so called "Smoked Thangkas". These paintings are created special smoke technique is used to receive an artificial old impression. Incense sticks are used for the incense smoking process.