A computer display (monitor) usually shows black as a single colour, but in print and print programs, there are several ways to create and represent black. Therefore it’s important to learn the variations of how black is made in different instances for print. You may notice a different between the black created in Illustrator vs Photoshop, especially if you copy and paste from one program to another. This may also be noticeable when you export to PDF from illustrator and open it on your monitor (depending on your settings). This can be disconcerting if you need the same black in both programs.
By default, InDesign is set to display black as “rich black” even if it is not actually composed as a rich black. It will also be set to print/export blacks as rich black by default. You can observe this (or change it if desired) by going to:
InDesign > Preferences > Appearance of Black or Edit > Preferences > Appearance of Black (PC)
You may change the screen display mode to “display all blacks accurately”
And “print all blacks accurately”
If you change these settings while you have a document open, the preferences will only apply to that document. Alternatively, if you want this to be the default every time a document is opened , ensure no document is open then repeat the above change in preferences.
Notice the difference between normal 100K black and rich black
(rich black is actually composed of 4 colours, rather than just K)
Types of Black
(these values are from printernational)
When to use rich blacks
- When you are using large point-sized fonts or copy
- On large surfaces of black [a flood of black is when black covers a large area (this might require a ‘double hit’)]
Do not use rich black with small surface areas, or small types/copy (it is not necessary and may add to the cost of the print job)
How to Make a Black Background In Photoshop:
Option + Delete (Mac) or ALT + Delete (PC) quickly fills with current foreground colour
Command + delete (Mac) or CNTRL + Delete (PC) fills with current background colour
(You can toggle quickly between foreground and background colour with the “X” Key)
BUT… be careful when using fills to pay attention to which kind of black is being used to fill (especially if you are not doing a 4 plate CMYK printing job).
You can check the black fill colour by going to Window > Info.
Next, grab the dropper tool from the tool bar and & sample the black while looking in the info pallet. You will notice in the info pallet that the black uses all 4 colours C/M/Y/K.
If you need a black fill in print make sure to make your fills like this:
Edit > Fill > Colour
K=100% (This is regular black)
Regular black uses only one printing plate as opposed to 4
NEVER, EVER use REGISTRATION BLACK from the colour pallet in InDesign as a fill colour because this will upset your offset printer manager and be very expensive. Registration black is only used for registration marks by the printer to line up plates.
Below is an example of Regular black (left) and Rich Black (right) as composed in photoshop