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Understanding The Color Black

Understanding The Color Black

Ever wondered why a black background actually prints out as a very dark brown or gray? Even when it looks great on your screen? This is a common issue with all printers - and that's why it's important to understand the differences in the color BLACK from a graphic design standpoint.

First, there's a difference in how a computer screen and a digital printer create colors. Printers use what is commonly referred to as CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black), or subtractive colors. When you subtract all four colors from each other, the result is white. Alternatively, computer screens use RGB (red, green, blue), which are additive colors. When you add red, green, and blue together, the result is also white.

If you were to do the opposite and add cyan, magenta, and yellow together, you should get black; however, on paper you may actually end up with a very dark gray or brown. The same is true if you use 100% black and no other colors. In order to get the dark black you see on your screen, you need to create a Rich Black. Rich black consists of various different shades of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, which all work together to create a darker black, as displayed above.

You will notice the biggest difference in blacks when you have a document with a completely black background. To see what works best with your printer, try creating an entire page of rectangles, each filled with a different combination of black as outlined in the graphic at the top of this page. Sometimes the difference is hard to see on your screen, so it is important to always print out a sample.

If you need help, don't hesitate to call us at 308-532-1111. We would be happy to help you ensure that your printed materials look their best!