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Tutorial: Get Maximum Black Density with Your Digital Press

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Here’s a little trick to get the maximum black density out of your press with your software RIP, in this case the Epson SurePress L-4033 and Wasatch SoftRIP.  The darker you can get your black, the better your contrast and in turn the rest of your colors will have more “pop.”  Using color profiles such as Illustrator’s default SWOP profile will cut down your black ink and will often result in a dusty black print.  This trick will work to improve both text and images.

First, open a file that contains some black printing in the job tab.  Usually this will be an area where cyan, magenta, and yellow are 0% and black is 100%, but this trick also applies to a Pantone Black, any custom spot color or any other area where you’d like the densest black possible.  Place the mouse pointer over the black area on an image and right click.  A pop-up menu will appear, and the next step is to click “Replace Spot Color” (Figure 1).

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Figure 1. Mouse over an area containing black and right click, then select “Replace Spot Color”

Once you’ve selected the black color from your file, another window will appear.  Here, you’ll insert values into the dialog boxes that will tell SoftRIP what to use as the color replacement for the milky black (Figure 2).  A good starting point is Cyan 80, Magenta 80, Yellow 30, and Black 235 if you have SoftRIP set to view colors as 0 to 255 values.  If you have SoftRIP set up to view colors as a percentage, then the corresponding numbers would be Cyan 31%, Magenta 31%, Yellow 12%, and Black 92%.  Depending on the substrate used, you may want to play around with these values until you get a satisfactory result.  Make sure the Replacement Color Space is set to Device.

Figure 2. Spot Color Replacement Window

 

Now that you’ve set up your black color replacement, click OK through all the windows, making sure to save and re-name your imaging configuration.  You now have an imaging configuration where your blacks are as dense as possible, and none of your other color management has been altered.  After you’ve saved your imaging configuration, your job preview should show red and white lines where the black will be replaced (Figure 3).  You’ll notice that the info tab now shows the Output as a Device substitution with the values you entered in the previous step.  As long as you use this Imaging Configuration, you will be outputting a denser black on all your labels.

Figure 3. Areas with replaced black are shown as red and white lines

 

 

 

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