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  • Illustrator Black does not display as black

  • olga mazurkiewicz

    December 27, 2007 at 1:20 am

    I am outputting using North American Prepress settings and my black is more like a dark brown than black.
    Color settings are R0 G0 B0. Color #000000.

    What am I doing wrong?

  • Jason Milligan

    December 27, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    First of all, you are working in RGB.
    Unless your printer has specifically asked for RGB, you should be working in CMYK since it will give you a more accurate reflection of your final product. Most designers will work with rich blacks instead of straight 100K. It gives you a stronger black and helps stave off registration problems. Try using C40 M40 Y60 K100

    Here is a little extra info:

  • adolf witzeling

    December 27, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    The rich black you specified isn’t really a rich black, but rather a rich “brown”.
    Yellow should always be a little lower or same as magenta and cyan, but not more.

    Also, be very carefully where you apply rich black, otherwise the commercial printer printing your stuff might send a “hitman” after you.

    Bottom rule: never apply rich black to body text. Most rips nowadays can be set to automatically overprint pure black ( 0c,0m,0y,100Black), so there won’t be any trapping issues. Building text in rich black is just calling for trouble…

    It really should be used rather on large solid black elements, because the screens help build up the density of the inks and therefore helps producing a deeper smooth black.

    Instead of building rich black with screens in c,m and y and 100 Black, it’s also very common to just “underlay” the black with let’s say 40 cyan. You’ll get a nice almost like steel “blueish” black.

  • Jason Milligan

    December 27, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    Thanks for pointing that out.
    I certainly didn’t mean to insinuate using rich black for text and I didn’t think to ask if that was what the black would be used for. Nice save.

  • Frazer Payne

    January 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Could you expand on how to produce the ‘underlay’ you mention?
    I use Illustrator and InDesign.
    Is it a case of locating all objects (excluding text) that need to be solid black, copying them, recolouring the copy to cyan and placing in a layer underneath?

  • adolf witzeling

    January 22, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Certainly, it’s fairly simple:
    Create a NEW SWATCH, select CMYK as the swatches color space and
    enter 40% in Cyan and 100% in Black. That’s it. This is a nice method of creating large areas of solid, deep almost like “steel”black.

    Without the help of cyan and as Jason said the use of 60C, 40M,40Y,it is a lot harder for the printing press to achieve a deep black; especially if you have other color elements, like pictures on the same page.
    The reason is that in order to get the darkest K only black the press would need to run more black ink, which would affect the black part of any color picture on the page, making them muddy and ugly.

    Hope that helps,

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