The CMYK Formula for Printing The Color Black - Deep Rich Black

Let's talk about one of the tricks of the printing trade. The CMYK Formula for Printing The Color Black - Deep Rich Black.
"Why is the color Black on my business card, flyer, brochure or postcard a gray color and not true Black?" I get this a lot from clients. Most graphics artist do not disclose this information in hopes to have the clients return since their printing products are the Blackest. By disclosing this information to my clients, up to now, they have been so grateful that they come back to ask for quotes on other printing products. People don't remember who you are, they remember more, how you made them feel. My clients have good feeling knowing they are getting the best advice to serve their clients. After all, it's all about product satisfaction.
 
Deep rich black is an ink mixture of solid black, 100% K, with additional CMY ink values. This results in a darker tone than black ink alone. If you print black alone as 100% K, the resulting black may not be as dark as you might like.
 
The CMYK Formula for Printing The Color Black - Deep Rich Black is:
C60 M40 Y40 K100.
Just about any quality printer will tell you this; however, of course, you have to ask.
 

15 Replies - Latest Reply by Jeff Harrison

  • The presses we have here has no issue with printing black. We run into prolbems sometimes when our chemical and plates are not so good.

    If you want a rich black i suggest that you use C100 M100 Y100 K100.

    Can't get darker than that.

    It also depends on the press and pressman....he gotta get perfect registration.

  • In reply to Adrian Juman:

    There's another tip: some printing bureaus when they want to make a black in all its fullness, apply a pad (under black) about 30% Cyan . (offset printing system)

  • In reply to Adrian Juman:

    so far i've heard of many different rich black combinations. the key is to saturate cmyk blacks just far enough without getting to much of an ink build. 100% across the board is heavy. 60, 40, 40, 100 sounds like it's pushing it enough.

  • In reply to Ghiangelo:

    Considering the type of stock the image is printed on is also a factor when designing using "Black".

     

  • In reply to Adrian Juman:

    Adrian Juman
    If you want a rich black i suggest that you use C100 M100 Y100 K100.

     

    C100 M100 Y100 K100 is too much, and causes problem to the printer. Too much tint is slow to dry and cause many problems on the printing process. The maximun percentage must be 320% but the best results is with 240% / 280% (for example 60+40+40+100 as suggested Rodrigo). Really a 40% of cyan is enough, but causes a "blue" tone. And using the same values of yan, magenta and yellow causes a "brown" tone. For this reason, is better to use a little more cyan than other tints

  • In reply to Ariel:

    Ariel
    C100 M100 Y100 K100 is too much, and causes problem to the printer.

    I agree, I would not use it

    Ariel
    Really a 40% of cyan is enough, but causes a "blue" tone.

    Yes, this is called "cool black".

    Warm black is perhaps C0 M30 Y30 K100.

    I only use 3 plates at most, never all 4. As 4 just adds more chance of registration problems.

    Anyway... what hasn't been mentioned yet in this thread is the output device.

    We can play with numbers all day, but the visual result will be different between output devices anyway.

    Many print jobs are now done digitally, and not offset, since there are more short run jobs than big long-run jobs it seems. For example, on a digital device using toner like a Xerox DC-240, black comes out quite nice "as is" on coated stock. My advice is for a designer to construct a sample sheet of various rich blacks, and print it at their local printshop on the device they intend to use for the real order.

    Also, for reverse text - like white on black- small text at 7 points or under with serifs is not a great idea, since serifs can fill in.



    [edited by: Jeff Harrison at 15:20 (GMT -5) on Wed, Dec 30 2009]
  • In reply to Jeff Harrison:

    Jeff Harrison
    Anyway... what hasn't been mentioned yet in this thread is the output device.

     

    Not only the output device but what happens when some body decidesd to place 5 pt reversed type on the Rich Black Build?  Then what happens when thay is run through automated trapping?  Groovy!!

  • In reply to Jeff Harrison:

    Jeff Harrison
    Many print jobs are now done digitally, and not offset, since there are more short run jobs than big long-run jobs it seems. For example, on a digital device using toner like a Xerox DC-240, black comes out quite nice "as is" on coated stock.

    Yes, the Xerox Docucolor 242 creates a very good black using only C:0 M:0 Y:0 K:100

    Also for some plotters such as Roland you don't need to send too much tint, only black is enough

    Of course, since most digital printers allows to send as RGB, sometimes the color values changes to a "rich" black

  • In reply to Ariel:

    Ariel
    Also for some plotters such as Roland you don't need to send too much tint, only black is enough

    This is a good point.

    The quality mode set in the RIP itself for our Roland SP 540-V on a job-by-job basis makes a huge difference in output quality. Not only for blacks, but all colors. Hi -quality outputs great.

    Twice the time to print, twice the ink laid down, but twice as nice. ;-) And no rich black needed.

    Now, in some cases, I've used a rich black instead and printed in standard mode. The speed is fast and the black is denser than only black by itself (as expected).This was for a case where the art was huge but had a big black area.

    So... artists must think about each job as they go... and envision what's really happening (technically) when they print the file.



    [edited by: Jeff Harrison at 1:46 (GMT -5) on Thu, Dec 31 2009]
  • In reply to Jeff Harrison:

    Jeff Harrison
    Twice the time to print, twice the ink laid down, but twice as nice. ;-) And no rich black needed.

    The conversions to the media profiles are dependant on the quality settings, specifically the profile must be created using the proper quality setting.  So (please try and follow)  a media profile created with a low quality setting but then used on the same media with a high quality setting will produce un acceptable total ink densities.

    So to be proper if you use a proper media profile that was created with the proper quality setting then you would need to use a dense black builds. However so many users use mixed (impropper) media quality setting you get so mnay mixed results.

  • SILLY question but I am newer to the printing process:

     

    Item: Magazine (web offset printing)

    they say to not use 4/C Black in text or Ads unless clearly marked...

    if I have a black box as a frame do I use the CMYK 60/40/40/100 mix? 

    If I use the black that already is in my program (K100) (InDesign...I use Corel for the graphics) will it look like dark black?

     

     

  • In reply to denaeaton:

    denaeaton
    If I use the black that already is in my program (K100) (InDesign...

     

    Have you cahnged your InDesign default black?  IF not it uses a dense black of CMYK 100 each.

    CMYK build in InDesign and Corel must match.

  • In reply to denaeaton:

    Hi,

    For Full Color Offset Printing and If you want Deep Rich Black use C60, M40, Y40 K100. If you use just K100, your printing product will come out Gray-ish. If you are using 'Digital Printing", according to some of the Posts in this Thread, all you need is K100.

  • In reply to denaeaton:

    denaeaton
    they say to not use 4/C Black in text or Ads unless clearly marked...

    Correct. Never use more than one tint on black text or outlines. Is only for a background or a big size object

    denaeaton
    if I have a black box as a frame do I use the CMYK 60/40/40/100 mix? 

    if it's not necessary, don't use rich black for outlines.

    denaeaton
    If I use the black that already is in my program (K100) (InDesign...I use Corel for the graphics) will it look like dark black?

    same color must look identical no matter the program. But if you place your CorelDRAW drawing as EPS what you see is a thumbnail or preview, but if it's the same percentage must be printed identical

  • In reply to Rodrigo:

    Rodrigo
    If you use just K100, your printing product will come out Gray-ish

    Well... not always. In the offset world there are many things to consider:

    • thickness of paper (newsprint.. cardstock... etc.)
    • coated paper or not (glossy finish or uncoated matte)
    • the press's mechanical condition (impression blanket etc.)
    • the physical area of coverage on the press sheet itself
    • the operator's skill & experience for a specific press
    • the job itself:  is it a spot color job? CMYK job?

    I personally wouldn't assign color to all separations for a rich black, only to 2. The reason: registration problems and fuzzy text are potentially new problems when using 4 inks to construct a black.



    [edited by: Jeff Harrison at 15:09 (GMT -5) on Mon, Jan 4 2010]