A few days ago, I took at look at some print work I did for one of my regular clients, Next Plc, a leading word-wide clothing giant. The prints were for some of their notice-boards in the Dearne Valley Distribution Warehouse, England. The designs were nothing ground-breaking design-wise, but what this article is about is an amazingly dark CMYK Black that was achieved through the use of professional digital print. I have tried to do the black justice in the above photo — which shows a dark, almost-sparkly silk finish (although, I haven’t fully exposed its density in a mere photo).
This black was achieved using a Xeikon 5000 Digital Press (shown above), aftr sending the files to RCS Printers, located in Retford (UK). Now, there’s a lot of contention in the print-design world about the perfect values to attain a Rich Black. I’ve used Cool Black myself on a variety of occasions using 40% Cyan and 100% Black (key), but for this design, I wanted to achieve the ultimate black.
Normally, I wouldn’t use all four printing inks if there’s small type in the design, but in this case, I was sending the prints off to be printed digital, so registration wasn’t an issue, plus all the text was large.
For the sake of completeness, I have included the source image for the print below. I wanted a very rich, dark black to compliment the orange and blue colours on the design.
I suppose before I go on, I’d better explain what the print is for. As can be seen below, an A4 plastic adhesive sleeve (from 3L) is stuck on the middle of the A3 print (on 350gsm Silk stock). The design, along with another 23 in the set, can display weekly information and target data through the week in the Next Dearne Valley Distribution Warehouse.
To get the rich black colour, so it wouldn’t look all washed out, I used the following TAC (total area coverage):
60% Cyan | 40% Magenta | 40% Yellow | 100% Black (key)
The total ink coverage equated to 240%, which would be near the upper TAC limit if I was printing on some thinner coated stocks on an offset-press. Although these were digital prints, I suppose I could have used meaner percentages — maybe even registration black (!!), yet I chose this TAC percentage mix to see how well it would look…and it looked stunning.
I thought that using a higher percentage may make the black look ‘muddy’. Although next time I do something like this, I’m going to upscale the percentages to see if it looks even darker, but for this occasion, I wasn’t going to do personal experiments with a paying clients’ work.
At the moment, I’m compiling an article coving every conceivable way of printing black on both digital and off-set printers. So I’ll be covering the varied mixes of blacks, including Cool Black, Rich Black, Flat Black and Earth Black (oh yes), as well as CMYK, Hexachrome and even Metal FX® black inks. Why not to Subscribe to my blog as not to miss this upcoming resource?
So far, this set of prints have produced my ultimate CMYK Black. Have you got any experience with differnet CMYK ink mixes? What’s is your chosen persentage, and on what paper? Have you ever used the full 400% TAC on a digital print? I’d like to hear your opinion…