True Black vs Rich Black


Not all black colors are created equal especially when printing on a white substrate. Just like all other colors, black is not just black, there are many different shades of black, all which translate differently during printing. When setting up your art file you will want to make sure you’re using the correct black color mix to avoid any unexpected color results.

True Black

Don’t let the name fool you! A true black or 100k black (0C,0M,0Y,100k), uses only key (black) to make up its color. This is a pretty common color to use, and we see it more often than not. But when this color black is printed on a white substrate it washes out the black and creates a dark gray color, especially when dye sublimated onto fabric. Unless you want a dark gray color you'll want to avoid using a true black color when desiging for print.

Rich Black

A Rich mixed black color is what you really want when desiging for print! A rich black or mixed black (75C,68M,65Y,90K) uses a mix of all the colors resulting in more ink, creating a vivid black, so when applied to a white substrate it looks very black.

Mixed Blacks

Now that we know using a mixed black is the best way to achive a real rich black color we need to also keep in mind not all mixed blacks are equal either, some print out with a color hue to them depending on what color mixes you use. Sometimes designers will intentionally use a mixed black with higher levels of specific color to achive a particular feel to their design.

  • A warm black uses higer amounts of megenta and yellow in it's color and the results are a black with a redish undertone.
  • A cool black uses a large amount of cyan in its color mix and the results are a black with a bluish undertone.

Best Mixed Black for Printing

In our experience we found, if you are looking to get the richest black then the best mixed black color is the following:

  • CMYK: 83C , 74M , 61Y , 99K
  • RGB: 0R , 0G , 0B
  • HEX# 000000