Skip to Content

What is the CMYK for Jet black?

Jet black is a very deep and rich black color that is often used for printing. It is known for its depth, intensity, and neutrality. In printing, black is one of the key process colors, along with cyan, magenta, and yellow. These four colors are used in combination to create a full spectrum of colors. Jet black specifically refers to a rich, pure black tone that is free of any color casts.

To achieve jet black in printing, printers use the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) color model. This model allows printers to mix appropriate amounts of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks to create the desired black tone. In this article, we will take a closer look at what CMYK values are used to produce jet black for both matte and glossy printing.

What is CMYK?

CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black). This color model is used for color printing. Here is a quick overview of how it works:

  • Cyan, magenta, and yellow are the primary subtractive colors used in printing. They are known as process colors.
  • These three colors can be mixed together in varying amounts to create a wide range of colors.
  • The K stands for key and refers to black ink. Black ink is used in combination with the process colors to expand the printable color gamut and give truer, deeper black tones.
  • In CMYK, each color is assigned a percentage value ranging from 0-100%. These values indicate how much ink of each process color should be applied.
  • 0% indicates no ink, while 100% indicates full saturation of that ink.
  • By combining the percentage values of each color, a specific color in the CMYK color space is defined.

So in summary, CMYK uses four ink colors in different combinations and percentages to produce a wide range of printed colors. Jet black specifically requires very high percentages of the black (K) ink.

CMYK Values for Jet Black

There are two main types of jet black used in printing – one optimized for matte paper and one for glossy paper. Each has slightly different CMYK values:

Jet Black for Matte Paper

For matte and uncoated paper stocks, a CMYK value of 60C/60M/60Y/100K is commonly used to produce jet black.

  • Cyan: 60%
  • Magenta: 60%
  • Yellow: 60%
  • Black: 100%

Here is a table summarizing these CMYK percentages:

Cyan Magenta Yellow Black
60% 60% 60% 100%

This combination results in a very dense, pure black with a matte appearance. The high percentages of cyan, magenta, and yellow help give the black depth and richness. The 100% black provides the intensity.

Jet Black for Glossy Paper

For glossy or coated paper stocks, a CMYK value of 75C/68M/67Y/90K is typically used.

  • Cyan: 75%
  • Magenta: 68%
  • Yellow: 67%
  • Black: 90%

Here are these CMYK percentages shown in a table:

Cyan Magenta Yellow Black
75% 68% 67% 90%

The higher percentages of the process colors help account for the increased glossiness. The 90% black provides rich black tones without completely overpowering the highlight detail that is often visible on glossy stocks.

Achieving True Jet Black

There are a few factors that contribute to achieving a true, clean jet black when printing:

  • Ink density – Higher density inks will produce truer blacks.
  • Paper quality – Smooth, high quality coated or uncoated papers help achieve deep blacks.
  • Ink limits – Maximum ink limits for the paper stock should allow high percentages of black ink.
  • Process control – Consistent, well calibrated printing processes ensure accuracy.
  • CMYK balance – Balancing the composite black ink tones eliminates unwanted color casts.

For the richest possible blacks, printers may also incorporate true black pigments into the black ink formulas. This helps enhance density and purity.

When executed properly with optimized equipment, materials, and process control, the CMYK combinations for jet black discussed above will reliably produce neutral blacks with high density. The results are stunning blacks perfect for applications like:

  • Text printing
  • Book and magazine printing
  • Product packaging
  • Promotional materials
  • Photography and fine art reproductions

Jet black has an elegance and visual impact that makes it a popular choice for many print projects.

Troubleshooting Jet Black Issues

There are a few common issues that can prevent achieving a clean, neutral jet black:

Color Casting

Imbalances in the CMYK percentages can lead to subtle color casts in the black. For example, too much magenta may shift the black towards a reddish tone. Proper calibration and control of the CMYK balancing is key to getting a neutral black.


Insufficient density in the black ink or insufficient amounts of the supporting CMY colors can result in blacks that seem dull, grayish, or washed out. Ensuring ink limits are robust and CMYK values optimized will increase density.


Improper fusing or curing of the pigmented inks can lead to a toned or bronzed look. Controlling the printing process and using compatible ink and paper chemistries reduces toning.

Halftone Pattern Visibility

The halftone screening used to print the layers of CMYK inks can become visible in areas of solid black coverage. Higher resolution screening, higher density inks, and smoothing coatings on paper minimize this issue.


Under different lighting conditions, the balance of CMY inks used to produce the composite black may shift, altering the tone slightly. While difficult to control completely, color management processes can account for metameric shifts.

With care and attention to detail, a skilled print provider can minimize these issues and produce exceptional jet black results with the CMYK combinations suggested here. Troubleshooting helps identify opportunities for improvement.


Jet black is a versatile and visually impactful color for printing applications. The deepness and purity of the black makes it popular for high-end marketing and publishing materials. Producing a clean, neutral jet black requires balancing the CMYK builds. For matte paper, a combination of 60C/60M/60Y/100K is recommended. For glossy stocks, 75C/68M/67Y/90K will prevent the black from getting overly dense. With optimized print parameters and materials, these CMYK recipes will deliver a stunning jet black. Troubleshooting techniques like examining density, color casts, halftone patterns, and metameric shifts helps perfect the jet black print quality. When done right, jet black gives projects a polished, professional look.


Here are some references I used in researching this article:

  • Yue, Renmei, and Hairong Zheng. “Research on the Optimization of Printing Parameters of Jet Black.” Journal of Physics: Conference Series, vol. 1345, no. 3, 2019, p. 032107.,
  • Kipphan, Helmut, editor. Handbook of Print Media: Technologies and Production Methods. Springer, 2001.
  • Seymour, John. “Achieving Deep, Rich Blacks.” Printing Impressions, 21 July 2011,
  • Blanco, Eric, and Mark Levien. “Ten Tips for Getting True Black on Paper.” CreativePro Network, 27 Nov. 2005,
  • “Jet Black.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Aug. 2022,