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{Lessons in Design} 1. Digitally Printing White

Posted by Abbey on Mar 12, 2012

Ok this is the start of a new series of posts, albeit posts that I have been talking about since the launch back in November.

Using my experiences as a print designer {and others experiences} these posts will be places that fellow designers and potential design clients can come, play and do a little bit of learning.

Topics will range from very simple tit-bits {like this one to start off} throught to more involved tutorials.

So without further ado, say hello to Lesson numero uno...

I have had to explain the issues surrounding printing white to clients countless times this year already, so much so, I am beginning to suspect it is not- as-obvious-as-I-thought.

Printing white onto coloured paper *sounds* like it should be an easy task, after all, printing colour on white paper is simple enough...right?

Right, but the problem is, ink jet printers generally contain a black cartridge and a red, blue and yellow cartridge {and depending on the brand and level of complexity of printer will contain more but lets not complicate the issue here} so can print using one, two, or four colours {you will heard it referred to as a one, two or four colour process}..

None of the colors available in the printer, of course, is white—so it can't be printed. (In other words, you can't print using ink that you don't have.)

So what options do you {or your designer/ client} have?

These are the options that I always recommend...

* Go off white

Select the white text, image, or section of image you need to print and change the colour to something just a tiny bit off-white {if you look at the layout of this page for example you will see that the colours are set at off-white, not a pure white}.

Adding a fraction of a percent of yellow is a good way to do this, it's no longer technically pure white}. Print the text or image on the coloured paper {as you would normally} You might have to set your printer in way that uses maximum ink for highest quality {Consult your printer manual to see how this is done if you are printing yourself, if a printer is printing this for you, make sure you request a print proof to test the colours and see how it works with the stock}.

{This option will not work if you have a dark background colour or are printing onto a stock darker than the colour..}.

* Reverse the process

Another option is to effectively reverse the process and use a white paper stock to print on and design a block colour or pattern as the design/ background, leaving the area that you want to "look" white as blank space or selected as white {depending on what programme you are using}.

So when printing the entire white paper will be covered in ink with the exception of the area selected which will remain white {white paper}.

{Options one and two can be used if printing or proofing yourself at home or if you outsource to a digital printer.}

* Specialist

The final option would be to design your artwork and employ a specialist print finish to ensure your white is as exactly as you want it, this option is more costly than digital printing because of the processes used. {letterpress, thermography, foiling - we will learn more about this next week}.

So there end-eth lesson one...

I hope you have found it useful in some small way and do please email or leave a comment on the post if anything isn't clear or if you want to share your own experiences...

Also, here is a link to a fabulous video showing how ink is made.

{Image by Abigail Mary-Louise Warner}

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2 comments on “{Lessons in Design} 1. Digitally Printing White

  1. Love your new blog Abbey! I’m definately going to be popping back regularly to get lessons and insights from a pro who I have a lots of admiration for 🙂 x

    • thanks carly! that’s really sweet of you, will check out your website when i get chance too! xx