When preparing files for print it is essential to determine how black is black when printing with a specific vendor. Each print shop will use different equipment and each piece of equipment will handle black differently.
Printing in CMYK
Always ask your print vendor which black is the darkest black they recommend before preparing your files. CMYK presents a challenge of overprinting black ink which can bleed into other colors, especially noticeable when trying to create white text on a black background. Below I have provided an overview of the names used for different black ink formulations and the corresponding CMYK value.
Overview of black inks used in the CMYK print process
|Standard black||0C, 0M, 0Y, 100K||Normal black.|
|Rich black||63C, 52M, 51Y 100K||The ‘old’ adobe photoshop black.|
|Cool black||60C, 0M, 0Y, 100K||Black with a bluish tone.|
|Warm black||0C, 60M, 30C, 100K||Black with a redish tone.|
|Registration black||100C, 100M, 100Y, 100K||Used for registration marks.|
|‘Designer’ black||70C, 50M, 30Y, 100K||A dark slighly cool black.|
Not all print processes are restricted to CMYK
Printing in RGB
The RGB colorspace can be reproduced by a variety of print processes including some consumer printers that use more than six ink cartridges. You still will want to ask your printer since they may have a recommendation to lighten the value slightly to prevent overprinting.
Overview of black inks used in the RGB capable print process
Notice that I headlined with the RGB capable print process. This is because RGB synthesis of color comes from light. So a printer can only try to recreate the colors of the visible light spectrum. Below I have provided an overview of the names used for different black ink formulations and the corresponding RGB value.
|Standard black||0R, 0G, 0B||Normal black.|
|Registration black||100R, 100G, 100B||Used for registration marks.|
So how black is black when printing? That depends on the process and equipment being used.