There’s black, and then there’s BLACK.
Who said production artists don’t have creative choices? Did you know not all blacks are the same? Believe it or not, a shift in black can really set a mood for any particular printed piece.
Usually solid black is used to emphasize display type or used as a background colour to highlight the main art element such as a logo, product or people-shot. However, if you’ve ever printed black ink on paper it doesn’t turn out to be very “black” at all. Usually it looks lighter like an 80% grey, or even lighter if you’re printing on newsprint.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
That’s why other inks are used to print below the black to give it a more intense darkness. By underlaying some cyan, magenta and yellow you get a much deeper, richer black. So, which combinations of colours do you use under the black? Well, it depends on the mood of your image. For example if your ad is selling a sports car and you want an edgy feel, you may consider a deep “colder” black, one that uses Cyan. I like using 100% Black, 60% Cyan, 20% Magenta, 20% Yellow. Maybe you are emphasizing a diamond ring and want to give your art a warmer feel. Then consider a more neutral black such as 100% Black, 30% Cyan, 20% Magenta, 20% Yellow. You may even consider supporting the black with a little more magenta to give it a more fiery feel. The trick is to give it that hint of other colours yet still be Black. That’s where the art-part comes into the production process. Whatever you do, do not place 100% Black, 100% Cyan, 100% Magenta and 100% Yellow – this is too much ink and a nightmare for printers. It also just makes your black turn into mud.