Design Quick Tip: Rich Black

09 Jun

Did you know there is more than one shade of Black in the print industry? To get a strong, dark black when printing in full color, also called 4-color process, you have to create a Rich Black.

All colors printed in 4-color process use a percentage of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black inks to create every hue in the printable spectrum. But the question is, what’s the best way to make a Rich Black. Let’s see if you can answer this question correctly:

To create Black in a CMYK format I would:

A. Use 100% Black

B. Use 50% of each CMYK

C. Use 100% of each CMYK

D. Use 100% Black, and graduated % of each CMY

You might assume that to get a good solid black all you need to do is select 100% Black. That will give you standard black, not rich black. The answer is D. What you want is a percentage of each ink, as well as 100% Black. This layering of inks is what creates a dark, intense, Rich Black.

So how do you know the best percentage to use? Some industries use a special formula, so if this is something you face on a regular basis, i.e. lots of print ads with large areas of black, then ask your printer for their formula for Rich Black. Otherwise try this:

Cyan 60%, Magenta 40%, Yellow 30%, Black 100%

Final notes: Only use rich black on large solid areas of black. Fine lines like type should be set in standard black. And never spec rich black when you’re printing in grayscale only. You could be charged for full-color.

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Posted by on June 9, 2009 in Design, Quick Tips


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