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Digital Printing Quick Tip #1: True Black vs. Rich Black
August 23, 2011

Digital printing is fun!  At least it is when Dr. Squigglebottom’s in the house.  Here at Tactive the Doctor is always in…

Today’s quick tip for effective digital printing: True Black vs. Rich Black

Hey, graphic designers:

What does 35 C 60 M 60 Y 100 K mean to you?

Give yourself 100 points (or a cookie, or a pat on the back… whatever makes you feel special) if you answered “Warm Black”.  Way to go, you!

Warm / Cool / 400%

Have you ever had an experience with digital printing when that “warm black” came out on the printed piece looking a little more “warm” and a little less black than you wanted?

Ever had a “cool black” come out looking a little more green than you had planned on and probably designed for?

How about setting up a file using the classic “400% Black” to try and achieve that really deep rich black you’re hoping for, only to have the printed piece looking like something a frog might hop out of?

How Blacks Work in Digital Print

When it comes to blacks, most modern digital presses prefer a pure 100% black for the most effective black printing.  Digital printers are literally looking at dpi, and the layers of ink in modern digital presses are not organized using the same CMYK model that’s been used in the past.  So the 400% black that used to put down layers of cyan, magenta, and yellow before having the black finish it out over the top simply won’t work the same way when a digital press puts them down in a different order.  This is especially apparent in the use of gradients and vignettes.


This doesn’t mean that digital printing can’t accommodate your PMS hexachrome black C or your company’s specific pantone gray.  Our digital press, Squiggy, can make it all work!

If you need help making your blacks work for digital printing, give me a call!  I’ve got the prescription you need!

Yours in Print


For more info on this topic, check out this article: