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CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips

Nov 25, 2012 7:28 AM

Tags: #illustrator #cmyk #black #printing #rich

Hello folks,

 

I have been trying to create a "Rich Black" swatch to use with my Adobe Illustrator creations, but after a lot of online research, I find that there are many diffrent opinions out there.  I figure I start this discussion, so that all of the information that we all share, can be available for a lot of Adobe users on this forum.

 

1. What is your favorite CMYK "Rich Black" pertentage formula?

 

2. When shoud be use "Rich Black" and when should we avoid it?

 

3. Would you use "Rich Black" for digital prints?

 

4. What else can you tell us about your experiences with Adobe Illustrator artwork and using or not using "Rich Black"?

 

 

I am hoping that this healthy discussion will be able to help many people for years to come.

 

Cheers,

Bill

 
Replies
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 25, 2012 8:04 AM   in reply to billhdz

    When I need to use the most intensive black possible on a certain paper (medium) without exceeding the specified ink coverage, I create an RGB black = 0 and convert it to the CMYK color space of the paper. This ensures that I will not exceed the ink coverage.

    If your question is not specifically limited to the most intensive black possible on a certain medium without exceeding the ink coverage, but dark colors in general, then your question is like asking "what is your favorite color  in general (not just blacks).

     
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    Nov 25, 2012 3:24 PM   in reply to billhdz

    It's a generic and informal term. It just means using some amount of C, M, and/or Y rather than just K in black-colored objects. There is no one-size-fits-all mix; it depends on specific circumstances.

     

    There are white papers and articles on Adobe's site. Why don't you do a search?

     

    JET

     
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    Nov 28, 2012 8:30 AM   in reply to billhdz

    Hello Bill

     

    Yes, it's an informal term. CMYK black is a dark blackish grey, as you know, and the term "dense" just means turning the dull flat cmyk black into an interesting version of black. A general purpose spec might be simply 100k overprinting 70c. In the old days this was known as putting a "shiner" tint under the black. Or if you wanted your black to have a reddish tinge, you might chuck in a blend of magenta and yellow instead of cyan and so on. So you can make up your own "dense" black to suit whatever illustration colour bias you are working on. That's just rewording what JET has already said. Personally I avoid rich black like the plague. I like my blacks to look and output exactly as they are intended.

     
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    Nov 28, 2012 8:57 AM   in reply to jonesu

    jonesu wrote:

     

    ... I avoid rich black like the plague. I like my blacks to look and output exactly as they are intended.

    People who print rich black do this fully intentionally

    For example I use this all the time to get dipper and most intensive black possible on a printed media which is not possible with K only black, in comparison, it will give pale grayish color.

     

    this is just an image grabbed from Google that illustrates the appearance of printed result

     

    http://blog.progravix.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/black_vs_black.jpg

     
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    Nov 28, 2012 9:01 AM   in reply to emil emil

    One potential caveat to using rich black for art printed on a physical offset printing press: trapping. Registration, although "theoretically perfect," is never "actually perfect." So pull the CMY colors back away from the edge of the black (at the printer's recommended trap amount), to avoid some of them peeking out from around the edge. In this case, 100% black is best, as opposed to the 90% shown in emil emil's example.

     
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    Nov 28, 2012 9:14 AM   in reply to emil emil

    I think that's a description/term difference from across the water, emil! The rich black swatch you post above is what I call a "dense" black (british!). I was referring to the "display all blacks accurately or as rich black" in the AI preferences ( I thought that was what Bill meant). If I'm using 100K, I want it to look like 100K! If you turn on the rich black option in preferences, 100 K appears on screen darker than PMS black 6. I personally don't like that. I'm assuming that "rich black" that you're talking about is the same thing as "dense black" that I'm talking about. I'm not entirely sure what Adobe were up to when they put their "rich black" in as a preference default, but there you go!

     
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    Sep 28, 2013 11:54 AM   in reply to billhdz

    My understanding is that rich black would only be for digital prints since digital prints use CMYK. I wouldn't see the point in needing a "Rich" black for offset since offset is pantone and true pantone is a hand mix of actual colors. Sure you can find a mix to fit whatever your preference is but I am pretty sure rich black is for CMYK. Whatever code you find, make sure it is set to processed and not spot. Processed is better trying to color match pantones to CMYK and is used for rich black.


    Also, be advised that rich black is considered a color print, so the price of whatever job you are running will reflect that. Color prints are anywhere from 400%-900% more expensive than black and white depending on quantity.

     

    Sincerely,

    A Printer.

     
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    Sep 28, 2013 12:05 PM   in reply to Srodg724

    Well, being from the "old school" of offset printing (prior to digital), rich black is for CMYK on the offset press, although it can have benefits in digital printing now. Pantone really only refers to spot colors (non-CMYK). Personally, I envision Pantone as a huge skyscraper full of attorneys, MBA's, and a large marketing staff -- and in its shadow is an old ramshackle shack with one color scientist working away feverishly.  :+)

     
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    Sep 28, 2013 12:13 PM   in reply to DrStrik9

    Now a days a spot color will only give you a CMYK equivelent to the pantone color which is generally close but noticably different. You can see the difference in any swatch book. Processed will be a lot closer. This is in digital printing terms.

     
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    Sep 28, 2013 12:22 PM   in reply to Srodg724

    That's only true for digital (CMYK-only) printing. You can choose Pantone's (not-so-great) CMYK versions of their ink formulas, or you can specify true spot colors (not converted to YMCK - sung to the Village People tune), and print with the higher-gamut mixed ink. But to do this you'll have to print on an actual offset or web press. Digital printing typically only knows CMYK, which in most cases is deplorable comparied to true mixed spot inks.

     
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    Sep 28, 2013 1:08 PM   in reply to Srodg724

    As far as I know the Pantone inks can be used only on offset printing technology but most of the jobs for offset printing is from CMYK separations. It will be forbiddingly expensive to print images  like photos containing a full gamut of colors with hundreds of Pantone inks while they can be printed with only four CMYK inks.  And for a lot of images it will be simply impossible to print only with Pantone inks because although the Pantone colors have wider gamut (much more saturated) colors than process colors, Pantone doesn’t have that much colors to cover all colors available in the CMYK color space.

    Prints with Pantone inks will be  less expensive if  printing with less than four colors, which is suitable for only a small fraction of all images being printed. But if printed with one color and it is black, in my experience the K ink from the four CMYK inks is less expensive than the Pantone black which of course will be rich - they put in the ink a lot of colors and they charge more for that but it is worth it. However, one Pantone color black or not will be less expensive than two runs from the CMYK colors.

     

    Digital presses do not use Pantone inks, but with the ever improving technology some have very wide gamut producing much more saturated colors than the CMYK offset press and thus they can simulate more closely and often exactly a lot of Pantone colors using inks produced for the digital printer.

     
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    Sep 28, 2013 1:13 PM   in reply to emil emil

    Yes, this is why they invented the 6-, 7-, and 8-color offset press. Unless you're using hexachrome, CMYK are the first four stations, with the others used for spot (Pantone or custom-mixed) inks. I've never heard of anyone trying to print standard CMYK using Pantone inks, although I've done several projects with 5th and 6th (Pantone) inks printed with the CMYK, for gamut expansion in specific areas. And yes, it's more expensive than standard CMYK.

     

    BTW, offset and web presses are still in use, although digital presses have taken virtually 100% of the low-run-quantity business.

     
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    Sep 29, 2013 2:48 AM   in reply to DrStrik9

    I've never heard of anyone trying to print standard CMYK using Pantone inks

    On occasion I have made designs in false colours, using CMYK separations to print 4 spot colours (say C for blue, M for red, Y for orange and K for purple). It’s easier to work that way although of course what you see on screen can be far removed from what the printed article will look like. Effective communication with your printer is of course a pre-requisite in such cases.

     

    As for the rich black question, I frequently use various mixtures of CMY and K insted of overprinting with K. For example, if you have a yellow background of, say, 10%M and 100%Y with black lettering on it, you can just as well have the black as 10%M + 100%Y + 100%K. The result will be identical as if you had overprinted with 100%K and will often get rid of those annoying anti-aliasing artifacts that plain black sometimes gives you when placed over another colour.

     
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