Different Shades of Black in Illustrator

Posted on March 31st, 2011

Problem: Placing artwork into illustrator on top of a black background – the black levels in the artwork appear darker than the background.


I first double checked that both documents were set as CMYK colour profile – they were.

Ignoring the fact that it could be different colour calibrations between the two programs, in my case it was because the original artwork (produced in Photoshop) had used Rich Blacks (see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rich_black). This is where the black rather than using just K=100%, it also combines ratios of some or all of the other colour channels.


To fix this disparity, I selected the black square acting as my background in Illustrator, opened the colour properties and corrected it so that C=100%, M=100%, Y=100% and K=100% – thus changing it to Rich Black.

This fixed the problem, although as the document was bound for large print output – the safer option might have been to convert the original .psd black to a warm black.

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