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©2019 by Synergy Print Management. 

White Ink. It's so hot right now!

CMYK – we know them, we love them, we have great fun making lots of colours with them but we can’t make white.


CMYK is a subtractive colour mode that removes light which means we need to print on white stock to achieve this colour in printed artwork. (You can read more about CMYK as a subtractive colour mode in our last blog.) Until white ink swaggered in, this was really the only way to “print” white.


White ink has been around for a bit but it hasn’t worked as well as it does now. After much science-y and techie stuff going on behind the scenes, printing in white ink is now better than ever. We now get a lot more possibilities. We can be more creative with display boards, window decals and graphics than before. We can print on to coloured card. We can print white text on to black card (which saves ink and reduces costs). We can go crazy with highlights, create opaque effects on window vinyl’s and create metallic’s that pop. We are no longer bound to white or cream paper.


White ink is cool.


Pictured above: A gorgeous example of Kodak Nexpress Opaque White Dry Ink on Mohawk Craft paper. Painting by Cordell Cordaro.

Creating Artwork with White Ink


Creating artwork with this wonderful stuff takes a little more planning and formatting. White ink is digitally printed as a spot colour. Litho printing is a little more challenging as the ink film is not completely even.


Using InDesign (Illustrator is pretty much the same):


1) Create a new layer and rename this ‘White’ with a capital ‘W’ (this is because of the print software – always use a capital W!). This layer will contain the white segments of your design.

2) Now you need to create a new colour swatch. Go to ribbon at the top of the screen select Window > Colour > Swatches. Ensure you are set to CMYK colour mode!

3) In the top right-hand corner of the Swatch Palette, select “Add New Colour.” Change the colour type to “spot” colour using the drop-down menu. Rename as ‘White’. It will default to black but change this to magenta. This will allow you to see the areas to print in white much better.

4) On the White layer, with the White colour, fill in the objects that you need colouring white. If the item you want white is behind a design element, you need to trace the shape you need.

4a) To trace text, boxes or shapes, go to Window > Output > Attributes and tick the box for Overprint Fill and if applicable, Overprint Stroke.

4b) For a CMYK image, select this and go to Object > Effects > Transparency and select ‘Multiply’. You should now see magenta (the representative colour for white) showing through the image.

5) Now you need to save your file. Make sure the white layer is at the top with the rest of the artwork behind it. Save as a PDF.


And viola! That’s how you set up your artwork to use one of the hottest things in print right now. If you need a hand, give us a call or drop us a line. Let’s get creative!