HOW TO: PRINTING WITH WHITE INK
Printing with white ink has been mostly limited to offset printing by using a spot color or Pantone PMS colors, and generally comes with a substantial production run to overcome the initial cost of set-up. However, advances in digital technology has made printing with white ink possible for short run projects without the expensive set-up and long turn times. But maybe you’re asking yourself, okay that’s great, but what’s the big deal? Why should I care about using white ink? On the surface, white ink seems like the least exciting color all of the ink hues. But when you explore how white ink can be used, it becomes clear that this seemingly insignificant ink opens a world of possibilities. Below are just a few ideas on how to incorporate white ink into your projects.
Using white ink on dark substrates produces a high contrast look, one that is visually sharp and striking. White ink on a black business card eludes to a sense of high style. But apart from dark substrates, white ink can also be used on specialty stocks like wood grain textures, metallic, and mirrored finishes.
When printing on clear substrates like plastic business cards or window clings, light passes through because inks are transparent. However, printing a layer of white ink behind your design acts like a light block, preventing light from passing through and making the ink appear solid.
Much like white ink acts as a light block on transparent substrates, it can also be used as a way to normalize the surface of any substrate that is not white without losing the vibrancy of the original color. If you wanted to print a colored image or graphic on kraft stock, applying a base layer of white ink before applying colored ink mimics the look of printing on white substrates and keeps the color output from becoming dull, muted, or muddied.
White ink opens a whole new designscape of interacting with unique colored and clear substrates. What kind of white ink project will you produce?
READY TO START YOUR WHITE INK PROJECT?
Follow these steps to set up your file for white ink printing.
MAKE A NEW LAYER
When designing your print project, you'll need everything that is printed with white ink on it's own layer. For easy identification, place this layer at the top of your document's layers and name the layer "White."
MAKE A SPOT COLOR
Create a new spot color. In Illustrator and InDesign, this is found in your swatches panel. Your new spot color needs to be named "White."
SET TO OVERPRINT
Overprint settings tell the press to print on top of the white ink instead of knocking it out. These settings are found in your Attributes panel. Look under the the window menu to activate your attributes panel. Select your white areas and check the box for overprint fill or stroke as needed. This will allow the white to be printed first with your artwork on top.