greyed out not blackBlack is Black! But is it?

Have you been disappointed by the colour of your black leaflet or business card?

Nothing in nature is truly black but was it a bit greyed out, or not really the deep black you imagined?

Even in printing Black is not just black and has many variations that can be used effectively rather than just badly with  a little knowledge!

To begin with the basics, Black is one of the four colours used in the ‘Four Colour Process’ Cyan Magenta Yellow and Black for printing. In theory the cyan magenta and yellow inks should be able to generate any shade or colour you could want. They are a derivation of the primary colours we used at school to produce the colours of the rainbow or colour wheel, ie mixing, red and yellow gives you orange.mixing primary colours

In theory mixing all three colours should produce black but in reality produces muddy brown. The print process prints in the order of CMYK, this is a ‘subtractive’ process which means the colours get darker as they are added (see “Help! Which colour should I use in my design?). When ‘k’, black, is added it overprints the other colours and gives definition and clarity to the images or text. In most cases this is enough and is generally acceptable.

However in some cases you can see the other colours beneath as darker shadows and is not as dense as required. In this instance a composite black is required.

A ‘composite black’ or ‘Rich Black’ is made up of not only 100% K (black) but a percentage of one or all of the other colours.

shades of blackComposite blacks range from 30% or 50% Cyan plus 100%K,
and there are many different options for different shades of black depending on personal choice, some of the more usual choices are 70C 35M 40Y 100K or simply 30C 100K, Cool Black and 60C 60M 35Y 100K or simply 30M 100K, Warm Black

just shades of blackExperiment and see the difference!

These various shades of black can compliment your designs in very subtle ways or used together can create some interesting effects.

MIchael Frank stationery


For a recent Branding the black used was 100K 30C, it produced a nice solid black with depth but not heavy enough to over ink the stationery paper.

See more about Rich Black…


Angie Phillips of A.N.G Creative Design, based in Essex, UK, helping you communicate your message to your clients and generating more leads and sales.


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