Favorite Black Ink

Hi there everyone,

I am currently using a rubber base process black, and to me it seems like a really dark grey.

What is everyone’s favorite/blackest black?
Rubber vs oil? Brand? Etc.

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I’ve started using Southern Ink’s Dense Black, it is oil base and I really enjoy its black-ness and feel on the press.

The process colors (process yellow, process magenta, process cyan, process black) are for 4 color process (full color) printing. They are not as dense as the line, or spot, colors, so I’m not surprised that you find the black to be not extremely dense.

To expand on what others have said, the process inks are translucent so that they can be printed on top of each other to create composite colors. You’ll generally want inks for spot printing in letterpress. They’re denser and more opaque. They’re generally still not completely opaque, but much moreso than process inks.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

Lawrence in the UK make some very nice black inks, five different shades in total.
Description from their website: A simple, traditional formulation of pigments finely ground in linseed oil. Ideal for wood engraving and all letterpress printing. 150mls in tubes, 500gm, 1kg in tins.


Hi, Thomas, I’ve used the Lawrence ‘Original Oil based’ range since 1947,in all the colours, following in my printmaker Fathers (and Grandfathers) footsteps. I would never use any other.

Fans, Rubber base, #29995. Hands down. With a bit of red 032 added, it makes a lovely warm dense black.

Has a very dense pigment load. Is very tacky, thus out of the can prints sharp as a tack, but can be reduced from there with their rubber base reducer.

Hello Harrildplaten, not only do I appreciate the Lawrence black inks, but I’m also a great fan of Epple’s (Germany) Tiefschwarz that I buy from Drucken-und-Lernen in Raunheim. It dries well on most papers and has a nice matt deep black shine to it.