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Rich black

So if you want blacks on your page to be really strong, you need “rich black”. That is, black ink combined with other ink to make it less see-through.

The most common practice is to print some cyan ink with the black ink, to strengthen it. This works, but too much cyan introduces the risk of creating a blue-black. So some shops recommend a small amount of all three of the other inks - cyan, magenta and yellow - to give strength without swaying the colour in one direction or another.

How rich can you go?

You might be thinking: “Well, if a bit of the other three inks gives more impact to blacks in print, why not use lots of the other three inks? Why not print 100% of C, M, Y and K, and make it really striking?”

That’s where the “Total Ink Limit” comes in. Remember I talked about it in Module 4? If too much ink is laid on the paper, it won’t be able to dry, and it will smear all over. Not nice. So some shops specifically tell us their ink limit, and for the ones that don’t, we generally assume 300% (except for newspaper).

Now you might be thinking: “Ok, if 300% is the limit, why wouldn’t you print black with 66% each of the other inks for maximum allowable strength?”

There are three reasons:

  • First, the law of diminishing returns. The honest truth is that higher than 40-60% (combined) of the other three inks can’t really be noticed by the viewer.
  • Therefore the second reason is cost saving. Printers don’t want to use more ink than they need to, and you (the customer) don’t want to pay for more ink than you have to.
  • Thirdly, the risks and consequences of poor print registration.

What is print registration >>

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