Is there more than one type of Black? | Learning Hub | Fineline Print & Web

Our Aim:

To provide the most comprehensive Print & Design Learning Centre available in the UK

Dedicated to making Your Print More Profitable by...
  • Helping you get the job done faster and more efficiently
  • With less downtime and reduced waste
  • Making your business more effetive
  • Cutting through the jargon which drives us all mad

Hello, I’m Alec from Fineline Print, and I’m back again to answer a question which frequently pops up in design circles about Black. 

As strange as it may seem, there is more than one type of Black and I’m going to show you the difference and … how to use that knowledge in your design work.

In our Learning Centre Guide 'What is CMYK' we looked at the four Process Colours: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.

In this instance the Black in question is known as True Black and on large areas of coverage it can look a bit washed out. Grey almost.

But using the other Process Colours there is a way of achieving an even deeper Black. This we know as Rich Black.


Balck on Black


The Rich Black you can see in the graphic above is made by adding Cyan, Magenta and Yellow to the ink mix in the following proportions: C-75% M-68% Y-67% K-90%


So, that’s all very interesting but how does it help you as a designer?

Well, here’s just two examples:

  • If you’re designing a Presentation Folder and you want a deep all-over Black, True Black is going to look a bit patchy and Greyish. Creating a Rich Black will change all that to give you a deep, all over coverage.


  • When coloured backgrounds overlap. If you have a light-coloured background and want a large Black area to print on top you would use Rich Black. If you don’t, the colour underneath may show through to create an unsightly banding in the overlap areas.


And here’s where not to use it:

Small areas of Black. Rich Black may misregister on very thin or small areas – and this applies to type as well.


Extra care should be taken when placing graphics with a Black background into areas of solid Rich Black. 

If the Black in the graphic is True Black it will stand out like a sore thumb in the printed job.



Take great care to check because the differences between the two Blacks are not always easily spotted on screen but the effect, when printed, may be enough to ruin your job.

To avoid the situation altogether, it’s best to use graphics with a transparent background such as PNG and Vector files.

True Black and Rich Black mismatches in printed work can be really frustrating so I hope this quick run through will help you avoid the issues in your own design work.


But before you go …

I’m on a mission this year to help You make Your Print more Profitable.

If you’ve found his article helpful and you’d like to receive regular insights and answers to industry secrets just pop your name and email in here and we’ll look forward to sharing with you.

It’s what we’re here for!


Copyright © Fineline Print and Web 2018





It really doesn’t matter whether you’ve got a project still on the drawing board or ready to go - if you’d like help to brainstorm some ideas and … thoughts on how to use print more effectively, please just pop a name and phone number (or email address if that’s more convenient) in to the form alongside and we’ll get right back to you.  

It’s what we’re here for.

Please share your top tips with me

Let us guide you to achieve profitable printing, call Alec and the team on 01824 705 800