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Photoshop 101: True Black (CMYK)

I've got a quick Photoshop 101 tip for print media. This can also apply to Illustrator, but I just filed it under Photoshop. We should all know by now that RGB documents are meant for screens, and CMYK documents are meant for printing. Therefore, when you print a CMYK document and you need a really rich black it's important to remember one little teeny tiny thing: 100% K isn't the blackest black you can get. It may be frustrating for a designer that they do not achieve the desired results. Even the darkest of the colors may not appear to be darkest when they are printed on a paper. To achieve the darkest black on the paper, you have to make some customizations that allow it to print in the same way as it appears to be on the screen. The true colors that do not involve part of any other color can be achieved only if you keep all the features of that color in nearly equal proportion. Otherwise, you will see different irregularities as it gets printed. These simple tips will help you to achieve the perfect results without worrying about such little irregularities that a designer may encounter along the way. You can also do this by manually adjusting the designer but it will be very difficult for you to take the slider to the exact position. The true black color is rich in its own color and it does not contain a shade or tiny amount of any other similar color. It is a concentrated color with blackness in equal proportion at all the different points.

Photoshop 101: True Black

Believe it or not, when working in CMYK for print media, 0 0 0 100 is not the best black you can get. If you have a keen eye, you might be able to tell by the image above. You may be confused with a lot of different colors available to be chosen in the color picker but you may not be able to identify the true black color that is suitable to be used in different works. Color picker contains colors of all the different kinds, concentrations and volumes so you have to be really precise and accurate while picking the perfect color for your own task.

CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and black. There are four prime colors used in color printing and you have to make full use of these colors to print the desired color in a perfect way. The combination all these four prime colors will help you achieve the perfect black color. In contrast to CMYK, RGB color mode is just used to show colors on the virtual computer screen or screen of some other sort. The four colors in CMYK can be used to create millions of other colors that may vary in concentration and contrast. The cyan, magenta, and blue add to enrich the black color that is called the true black color and may be different from other black colors that appear to be fake.

Photoshop 101: True Black

If you've ever printed out a file or document or design (a complex illustrator document, for example) and most of the blacks were black, and one or two of the shapes appeared grayer, there's probably a simple explanation. The blackest-black you can get when printing in CMYK is C-75 M-68 Y-67 K-90. Yes, you can accomplish this by simply dragging the color picker all the way to the bottom left, but when dealing with complex documents, and one of the blacks don't print right, it's good to know where the problem is. (especially documents delivered from clients)

Photoshop 101: True Black

It's a simple tip, but I hope it reaches somebody who needs it 🙂

I'm the editor-in-chief of I'm a designer and developer by day, and a writer and musician when the feeling strikes. I enjoy vintage advertisements and puzzles with an absurd amount of pieces. Follow me on Twitter.

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