2

I'm working on a project where I want to add a gradient over the bottom of a picture so it fades to the background. However, when I save the file to PDF, the gradient gets a grey color, not the black I selected. When I save as PNG, it doesn't change the color.

Should I change something in my settings somewhere? I've tried different PDF-viewers, but every viewer shows the same weird grey color.

Also, while we're at it, why does the gradient desaturate the image?

Examples

Illustrator enter image description here

PDF

enter image description here

PNG

enter image description here

6

You most probably used a 'poor' black as the black in the gradient: 100% black ink, but no C, M or Y.

The K ink is not black by any means: it's dark grey at best, and doesn't stand scrutiny when printed on a large area. To get a good, saturated black, you'd better use a 'rich' black: 100%K with some percentages of other inks added. You can influence the 'character' of the black with these colours: the added colours shine through the black, giving a very cold black with 100%C, 100%K, or a warm and red black with 60%C 40%M 100%K. Be sure not to exceed the maximum ink percentage of ~280%.

To use a 'rich' black in a work, it's best to make it a swatch, so you use the same black all the time. Makes it easier to include it in a gradient, too.

Do not use a rich black for text. Alignment between printing plates is always imperfect, yielding colour sheens at the borders of the letterforms, severely hindering legibility. to say nothing of sharpness.

  • 1
    Wow, yes, that's apparently it! I made a CMYK (60,60,60,100) and it got pitch black in the PDF. Perfect! I was already experimenting with editing the PDF in Photoshop and then importing it in Illustrator, but a 100% Illustrator-solution is way better. – Rvervuurt Nov 4 '14 at 13:10
  • It also fixed the desaturation! Awesome! – Rvervuurt Nov 4 '14 at 13:12
  • 2
    be very careful with a colour as 'wet' as 60/60/60/100 wehn actually printing. That's a lot of ink on your paper, and it might blotch. If you want a neutral 'rich' black, I'd try 40/40/40/100 or something the like. – Vincent Nov 4 '14 at 13:25
  • It's going to be printed on fabric, will that make a difference? It's not the final files yet, so will play with the blackness if necessary. – Rvervuurt Nov 4 '14 at 13:29
  • 1
    I'd ask your printer about the correct colour profiles and maximum ink percentages, if I were you. They might even have a .pdf preset for you to download. – Vincent Nov 4 '14 at 13:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.