Frontier Label

Rich black versus 100% black: The colors of your custom label

Rich Black versus 100% Black

Have you ever pulled your favorite black jeans out of the dryer and slipped on your brand new black t-shirt only to find that, lo and behold, they are totally different blacks? Your new t-shirt is a dark black, and your old jeans are a faded, dull grey.

In the printing world, there are also vastly different shades of black that you can achieve. While many blacks virtually look the same on a computer screen, the printed versions do not. Who knew that your custom label could have a fashion conundrum of its own!


rich black versus 100% black custom label


Rich Black

Rich Black, the blackest black, is a mixture of solid black over one or more other colors in the CMYK spectrum. Adding other colors into the mix can give you a richer or deeper black. When filling a large space, like the background, with black ink — Rich Black is a nice choice to make your custom label stand out on the shelf.

Some of the common Rich Black mixtures, or color builds are:

C: 60%, M: 40%, Y: 40%, K: 100%

C: 50%; M: 50%; Y: 10%; K: 100%

Pro Tip! You should NEVER crank all four colors up to 100%. At press, this is simply too much ink all at once, and the material will become oversaturated. Stick with one of the color builds above or ask your designer for other rich black options.

100% Black

100% Black is the duller, greyer black. This version of black goes by many names (true black, pure black, plain or regular black). It is quite literally 100% black ink without any extra colors. When expressed as a color build, true black looks like this: C: 0%; M: 0%; Y: 0%; K: 100%

At this point, you are probably asking yourself, “If rich black is so great, why would I ever want 100% Black instead?” That’s a great question! There are a few instances where 100% black is ideal.

Use 100% Black for all black text and all fine details.

When you start to mix different colors, the extra cyan, magenta, and yellow dots may cause some fuzziness or blurriness. Additionally, those dots of ink will be laid much further apart. In order to achieve the crispest, clearest lines and legible text, go with 100% Black.

Pro Tip! Adobe Illustrator and InDesign automatically use a 100% Black default in all text-boxes. Photoshop, however, is not quite so printer friendly. Take it from us– Always check your black color builds in Photoshop!

If you have any questions about which black color builds will work best with your custom label, give us a call at 877-277-4682 or chat in with our awesome team. We are happy to help you get those beautiful labels into the hands of some beautiful customers.

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