When we hold a printed piece that features white ink, we know intuitively that it’s special—the colors and textures pop in a way that traditional inks just can’t capture.
When used correctly, white ink creates eye-catching pieces that really stand out. But the truth is, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes in successfully designing and printing with white ink.
White Ink in the Printing Process
The diagram below is an example of a card that features orange and white ink printed on dark blue paper.
The cross-sections show how layers of white ink neutralize the blue paper beneath. Multiple, stacked layers create a bright, crisp white and make orange ink pop.
The best way to approach designing with white ink is to treat it as you would a spot varnish in your digital file. Here’s an example of how to set up an Adobe Illustrator file for white ink printing:
1. Create a new layer.
Name it “White” (case sensitive). It should be the top layer in your file, unless you plan to print other colors on top of the white ink.
2. Create a new color swatch.
Make it 100% Magenta (this makes it easier to see while designing) and make it a spot color. Name it “White” (case sensitive).
3. Start designing
Use your White spot color for all elements to be printed with white ink, and keep them on the White layer.
4. Prepare the file to print.
Make sure all artwork is selected and check “Overprint Fill” and “Overprint Stroke” (if applicable). This ensures that the white ink will be printed underneath other color elements and not knocked out.
We’re print experts and we love working with our clients and helping them in any way we can. If you want to use white ink in a project, we welcome you to come in and look at some samples. We can discuss the possibilities, and even help your design team set up their files for printing.