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I'm working on a full color piece in Illustrator which has a few large black and grey areas.

I'd like the black to be a rich black. I was thinking c30 m30 y30 k100. What is the best ways to match my gray areas?

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"50 Shades of rich grey" = spin off romance novel that takes place in the prepress room. –  DA01 Oct 1 '12 at 16:15
Closely related: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/2984/… –  e100 Nov 21 '12 at 12:00
Values for rich black usually means wearing a white suit –  SaturnsEye May 9 '14 at 16:28

3 Answers 3

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Talk to the production house and ask them what rich black they prefer. There is no single rich black every print provider uses. Each print provider has their own formula for a rich black. And, in many cases, the print provider may want simply 100% K and they will adjust the black to match their own environment. Therefore, the best option is to ask the print provider how they like rich blacks handled.

There are a couple ways to handle tints of the rich black.

  • The easiest .... make it a Global color. Double click the swatch in the Swatches Panel and tick the "Global" option.

  • More cumbersome.... hold down the Command/Ctrl key when you adjust color sliders. This will cause all 4 sliders to move in unison.

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Yep. Ask Your Printer. –  Lauren Ipsum Jan 25 '12 at 1:05

If you know what ink coverage means in printing, then you would analyze the formula. There is a minimum to a maximum ink coverage:

Maximum Ink Coverage is based on a 240-260 % ink Coverage. If you take the rich black that is generated automatically in Photoshop, which is C=75 M=68 Y=67 K=89 = 299% ink coverage. Your saturation is way pass the 240-260% ratio. Most print houses utilize a formula C=60 M=40 Y=40 K=100 (240% ink Coverage) or C=40 M=30 Y=30 K=100 (a bit less than average).

These formulas are best for rich black. Remember that the term RGB is not utilized in Litho Printing. Therefore you cannot use CMYK formulation on an RGB mode.


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The "rich black generated automatically in Photoshop" is entirely dependent upon your color profile settings. So it's not always the numbers you cite. –  Scott May 9 '14 at 15:57

Coming from a print background I can tell you that the CMYK for a rich black is

C=75 M=68 Y=67 K=89

This will give you the best black. If you are sending to an RGB printer like any desktop

(yes they print CMYK and have all those cool mid tone cartridges but they take RGB images and have there own internal rip that converts it)

I would use R=0 G=0 B=0 If you use process black or C=100 M=100 Y=100 K=100 you will end up with a muddy brown on a CMYK printer.

Also on grey the printer will always use all of the colors to print grey, it will never use only black ink. This is to retain detail in the grey areas. I would make sure that you are adding a little more cyan or magenta to make the greys cooler or warmer depending on the look you are after.

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there is no 'one' rich black. It's all dependent on the inks, the press, the paper, and the printer. –  DA01 Jan 25 '12 at 1:22
Yep, sometimes RichBlack is 320, sometimes not .. –  Krom Stern Jan 25 '12 at 7:17
please note that 100/100/100/100 should never, ever be used as a rich black. It is equivalent to 'registration black', and it's bound to stain your print because it's way too wet with all that ink not having time to dry properly. –  Vincent Oct 1 '12 at 8:11

protected by Darth_Vader May 9 '14 at 15:59

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