HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY PRINT USING WHITE INK.
For all those lovers of rich dark paper stocks, you’re not alone. Yet as we’re faced with the challenge of how to make it work in a commercial world often it becomes too hard or too expensive.
White ink is nothing new. Widely available in the offset world it provides a semi opaque option for printing text or pattern. Expensive and often requiring at least ‘two hits’ to achieve a solid opaque finish, it’s rarely used. In my 20 year print career I’ve only ever had one request to print with white ink on an offset press.
In recent years digital presses have jumped on board with the ability to print white ink, including the newer models of the HP Indigo.
WHY USE WHITE INK?
Sure, why bother using white ink when you can simply print a dark colour on white stock and reverse out the copy – but white ink isn’t only for dark paper stocks. Used as a layer underneath an image it can take the print to another dimension, creating an almost 3D appearance. Trust me, when you see the result it’s worth the effort.
OPAQUE OR TRANSLUCENT
White ink is a little like white paint on a black wall, you’re not going to cover what’s underneath in one coat. The beauty of the digital printing however is the ability to run multiple layers with little extra expense. The ink on these presses is also dry instantly which, unlike its big offset brother, means you can successfully lay a CMYK image directly over the top.
ONLY ON A DARK COLOURED PAPER?
Although the first thing that comes to mind for white ink applications are rich brown, black and blue coloured paper, using a white underneath an image can also be effective on lighter paper stocks. In our current WHITE & CLEAR campaign we feature the image of a ballet dancer printed on KW Doggett’s Curious I-Tone Silver. Printing white underneath the dancer takes it to a whole new level. Although subtle, it’s an easy way to make the image leap out (pardon the pun). The same approach was also applied to the elephant, printed on Spicers Sirio Pearl Aurum. A solid hit of white underneath the pic lifts it off the page.
UNDER OR OVER?
Most of us assume white ink will be used as text or as a visible layer on a dark stock. As we just discussed, using white underneath an image is a powerful way to give it a lift. And because the digital ink is dry instantly, it can also be used as a base for printing CMYK on those darker stocks.
THE TECHNICAL STUFF
We set up our white ink as a separate ‘spot’ layer in the inDesign file (named ‘White’). While some of the images in the campaign used a 100% solid hit of white, more delicate ones, like the ballet dancer, used the cyan channel, inverted and converted to white. This eliminated the ‘blocky’ effect around the soft edges. A lot of these decisions were left to the discretion of our print ‘superstar’ professional Rob Munster who runs the digital department here at Printcraft..
Using white ink is certainly a little outside the norm, but doesn’t mean you need to shy away from the process. It’s best to speak with your Printcraft Account Manager or even Digital Manager Rob to guide you on how to achieve the best possible result.
To see more of how white ink can be used, register for a WHITE & CLEAR sample pack here.
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