I have been working with Illustrator for some time and I have had a lot of people ask about problems with the color black. There are several problems that can crop up when using black in Illustrator, understanding how to use the “Appearance of Black” settings should help clear this up. As a note, this setting also shows up in Adobe InDesign and is imporant.
What do the “Appearance of Black” settings mean in human terms?
Appearance of black is a setting in Adobe Illustrator that allows you to change how the color black is shown on your screen and how it is output to your printer and exported RGB images.
What is “Rich Black”? Rich black is a deep black that is very dark. Regular black is a very dark grey. The difference mainly matters in printing. A typical rich black mixture might be 100% black ink, and 50% of each of the other three inks (Cyan, Yellow and Magenta).
When you use the “Black” swatch in Illustrator, you get regular black (100% Black and 0% CMY).
Setting these preferences in Illustrator
Choose Edit > Preferences > Appearance Of Black (Windows) or [ application name ] > Preferences > Appearance Of Black (Mac OS).
1. Choose an option for On Screen:
Display All Blacks Accurately: This setting will show all blacks acurately seen in the image below.
Display All Blacks As Rich Black: This setting will show all blacks as rich black, even if they are not rich black.
2. Choose an option for Printing/Exporting using the above reference:
Output All Blacks Acurately:
When printing to a non-PostScript desktop printer or exporting to an RGB file format, outputs black colors as seen above. This setting allows you to see the difference between pure black and rich black.
Output All Blacks As Rich Black:
When printing to a non-PostScript desktop printer or exporting to an RGB file format, outputs pure CMYK black as jet black (RGB=000). This setting makes pure black and rich black appear the same.
Other Issues with black in Illustrator:
Placed Photoshop files with black backgrounds when placed over vector black can sometimes create a problem. If you are having a problem where the black in your Photoshop file doesn’t match the black in your illustrator file, try the steps below. Additionally illustrator images not being pure black in Photoshop can relate to this information.
Use the Eyedropper tool in Illustrator to make the vector black the same color as the Photoshop black. To do this, select the black vector shape and then select the Eyedropper tool, click the Eyedropper tool on the black from the placed Photoshop file.
That should clear up the problem.
As a final note regarding colors when printing: Always consult the printer for each type of printing you are doing. Rich black and other color settings will most likely be different for each printer and print provider.