Choosing Black Ink for Printing

O'Douds labels with black background.

Color accuracy is key to achieving the best look for your brand. This goes for all colors, especially black. That’s right! Not all black inks are created equal. In this article, we will talk about the difference between 100% Black(or K) and Rich Black and which one to use for your custom labels or cartons.

rich black versus 100% black custom label

Rich Black

Rich Black, the blackest black, is a mixture of solid black over one or more other colors in the CMYK spectrum. Adding other colors into the mix can give you a richer or deeper black. When filling a large space, like the background, with black ink — Rich Black is a nice choice to make your custom label stand out on the shelf.

Some of the common Rich Black mixtures or color builds are:

C: 60%, M: 40%, Y: 40%, K: 100%

C: 50%; M: 50%; Y: 10%; K: 100%

Pro Tip! You should NEVER crank all four colors up to 100%. At press, this is simply too much ink all at once, and the material will become oversaturated. Stick with one of the colors builds above or ask your designer for other rich black options.

100% Black

100% Black is the duller, greyer black. This version of black goes by many names (true black, pure black, standard black, plain or regular black). It is quite literally 100% black ink without any extra colors. When expressed as a color build, true black looks like this: C: 0%; M: 0%; Y: 0%; K: 100%

Pro Tip! Adobe Illustrator and InDesign automatically use a 100% Black default in all text boxes. Photoshop, however, is not quite so printer-friendly. Take it from us– Always check your black color builds in Photoshop.

Which Black to Use

When choosing a black color build, the thing to remember is how and where you’re using it. It can be very tempting to try and use bold rich black for everything, but this could lead to some very undesirable results. A helpful guideline to follow is to use 100% Black for all black text, barcodes, and all fine details. This is especially true when it comes to Custom Cartons.

When you start to mix process colors, the extra cyan, magenta, and yellow dots may cause some fuzziness or blurriness. Additionally, those dots of ink will be laid much further apart. In order to achieve the crispest, clearest lines and legible text, go with 100% Black.

Design a Stunning Label

Designing product packaging shouldn’t cause stress or anxiety. Make sure to check out our Graphics page for helpful hints and templates. We are here to partner with you to make your packaging look amazing! If you have any questions about which black color builds will work best with your custom label or custom cartons, give us a call at 866-758-6215 or chat in with our awesome team.

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