29 Replies Latest reply on Dec 6, 2017 6:40 AM by fenris64

    CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips

    billhdz Level 1

      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

        • 1. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
          emil emil Level 4

          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).

          • 2. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
            JETalmage Level 6

            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

            • 3. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
              jonesu Level 1

              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.

              • 4. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                emil emil Level 4

                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

                2 people found this helpful
                • 5. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                  DrStrik9 Level 4

                  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.

                  1 person found this helpful
                  • 6. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                    jonesu Level 1

                    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!

                    • 7. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                      Srodg724 Level 1

                      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.

                      • 8. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                        DrStrik9 Level 4

                        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.  :+)

                        • 9. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                          Srodg724 Level 1

                          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.

                          • 10. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                            DrStrik9 Level 4

                            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.

                            • 11. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                              emil emil Level 4

                              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.

                              • 12. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                                DrStrik9 Level 4

                                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.

                                • 13. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                                  Steve Fairbairn Level 5

                                  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.

                                  • 14. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                                    William Kus Level 1

                                    Why is 100% across all CMYK values not used for the blackest black possible?  I'm sorry if someone explained it already, but why are different values used instead of just using 100% across all CMYK values?

                                     

                                    I also found a bug.  I am setting my black to 100% across all CMYK values and everytime I click off then click back on, it changes to some ridiculous RGB mixture.  I check the little drop down menu and it has CMYK checkmarked but continues to act as RGB.  The work around is to click RGB, then click back on CMYK and it actually acts like CMYK from that point on.

                                     

                                    Another work around was creating a spot color with 100% across all CMYK values.

                                    • 15. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                                      SJRiegel Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                      william kus wrote:

                                       

                                      Why is 100% across all CMYK values not used for the blackest black possible?  I'm sorry if someone explained it already, but why are different values used instead of just using 100% across all CMYK values?

                                       

                                      It's a physical limitation of ink on paper. Too much inch causes over-long drying times, and can soak through thinner paper. Non-digital commercial printers will have an ink-limit (Typically between 280% and 300% total ink coverage)to avoid problems on press.

                                      • 16. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                                        BorisMel Level 1

                                        I tend to use as rich black

                                        20C 20M 20Y 100K.

                                         

                                        From my experience I don't like seeing on the paper 300%-400% ink for making black. Some papers "over-drink" the ink.

                                        Simply 100K doesn't have enough presence and is almost transparent if I overprint texts on backgrounds (I overprint when I need so).

                                        What I do is add 20CMY to the black so it makes it more opaque, while blending with what's beneath, without overkilling with ink layers.

                                        • 17. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                                          FuzzyPiglet Level 1

                                          @BorisMel That is the formula I was always taught to use many years ago.

                                           

                                          C20/M20/Y20/K100 - It's a 'safe bet' because it won't put too much ink on the paper , too much ink can cause long drying times as BorisMel said and it can also cause the black to turn a horrible crap brown instead of black.

                                          Stay on the safe side

                                          • 18. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                                            Stephen_A_Marsh Adobe Community Professional

                                            Many recommend a single support screen, such as cyan under the black (30c100k), however this can create a “cool” hue to the black (which may not be wanted).

                                             

                                            I prefer neutral CMY support tints under the black, cyan is generally run higher than magenta and yellow to achieve a neutral (50c40my100K). The support tint recipe values will depend on the intended output space that the job will be printed in.

                                             

                                            For “digital” toner based output, the answer is not so easy! Depending on the device and other factors, one may achieve a richer/darker black when the input is 0cmy100k or if the input was 0r0g0b. For such toner based output (either wet or dry toner), it is best to test rather than assume and it costs very little for a test print with digital.

                                            • 19. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                                              bhaines3 Level 1

                                              Check with your printer. Each printer knows which mix of CMYK works best for their equipment for a rich black.

                                              • 20. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                                                charles r.r27774770 Level 1

                                                Excellent answer, bhaines.
                                                If you upload art to some print-on-demand sites (like Ingram Spark) they will caution you to not use a rich black at all—at least for type.

                                                • 21. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                                                  fenris64 Level 1

                                                  Interestingly, in Illustrator CC (2018), when I converted my black (K) type to CMYK, the previous 100%K value played out automatically to the four values in your example.

                                                  • 22. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                                                    Stephen_A_Marsh Adobe Community Professional
                                                    Interestingly, in Illustrator CC (2018), when I converted my black (K) type to CMYK, the previous 100%K value played out automatically to the four values in your example.

                                                     

                                                    It’s all about the source values and ICC profiles and colour settings on what the destination/result will be, so it this case it sounds like Mars was lined up with Venus etc.

                                                    • 23. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                                                      Pariah Burke Adobe Community Professional

                                                      This is a great topic for The Lounge as it's applicable across many of Adobe's products and beyond Adobe products.

                                                       

                                                      That thread is here Rich Black Tips, Information, and Formulae

                                                      • 24. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                                                        Monika Gause Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                        fenris64  schrieb

                                                         

                                                        Interestingly, in Illustrator CC (2018), when I converted my black (K) type to CMYK, the previous 100%K value played out automatically to the four values in your example.

                                                        Which color mode was the file?

                                                        • 25. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                                                          fenris64 Level 1

                                                          The file is RGB, and the working space is Adobe RGB (1998).

                                                          • 26. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                                                            fenris64 Level 1

                                                            Could be, but maybe Illustrator is getting better at conversions on-the-fly?

                                                            Colourspace of the file is RGB (despite K-only values initially) and the Colour settings are Adobe RGB (1998).

                                                            • 27. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                                                              Monika Gause Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                              fenris64  schrieb

                                                               

                                                              The file is RGB, and the working space is Adobe RGB (1998).

                                                              Then you shouldn't ask why 100K is converted to muddy black immediately.

                                                               

                                                              100K only stays 100K when you're in CMYK document color mode.

                                                              • 28. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                                                                MikeGondek Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                                1) 60c 40my 100k is my basis for making a neutral rich black and the DMAX is 260 which works for most everyone.

                                                                 

                                                                2) I use rich black on large areas than print with black, or in my retouching when I need a very dark representation o extend my color gamut of the image.

                                                                 

                                                                3) Yes, even less chance of issues with digital.

                                                                 

                                                                4) I do not use rich black on thin black type, not worth the trapping issues and result.

                                                                 

                                                                For extra bold type that is large will do especially when registration is tight as on litho.

                                                                 

                                                                Be careful not to send 100CMYK backgrounds to a fiery laser printer. There is so much ink, this get gummy and the paper folds over and gets caught up in the fuser, often resulting in the cost of a new $250+ fuser assembly. Other laser printers in the past the toner get so thick it cracks and  flakes off getting very messy.

                                                                • 29. Re: CMYK "Rich Black" information and Tips
                                                                  fenris64 Level 1

                                                                  Well, I did not ask that question and did not decry muddy black.

                                                                   

                                                                  I instead noted the conversion to “rich black” values when changing display from 100K to CMYK values.