White Ink and Coloured Paper

December 03, 2019

Using White Ink and Coloured Paper


Italic recently challenged Miami based artist Massimo Mongiardo to use paper as a fifth colour with truly stunning results.

In this post we explain how Massimo achieved this look and share our best tips to help you incorporate white ink into your creative process.

When the colour in a design comes from the paper, people notice. This high end look elevates designs and showcases a designer's creativity

Digital white ink gives designers and artists the ability to variable print white ink to add personalization through variable data.

Printers have many tricks of the trade, but we can't solve everything. We have issues in colours that are difficult to replicate consistently through print (4 colour greys can be challenging for example). Often we can overcome this and ensure consistency by incorporating suitable coloured (grey) stock into the design process.

Keep in mind that not all printing presses are white ink capable. At Italic we are proud to offer white ink solutions on both our small and wide format presses.

When done right, designing in duotone on coloured paper can be an elegant value add.


Shop This Collection


Let's Get Technical

Designing for Coloured Stock

  • While designing, keep in your mind that (C0% M0% Y0% K0%) represents the colour of the stock
  • Even papers with different white points change the output when printing the same CMYK values, adding coloured stock magnifies this effect, therefore we recommend ordering colour hardproofs for new projects

Designing with White Ink

  • White can be used as a stand-alone white colour on non-white stocks or as a “support colour” where it is printed behind CMYK to make the colour solid and bright
  • White can be used as a block out – used often when printing on metallic or clear materials
  • Our technology prints multiple hits to get a more solid white (1 hit, 4 hits) – 4 hits is our standard to get a nice white

Setting Up Your Files

  • Set up your files to have a swatch set as a spot colour named “White” with a capital W
  • We recommend setting the viewable colour on your file something you can actually see (we normally use XXX)
  • Everything you want to print using the white ink must use the “White” swatch
  • Everything printing white must be on its own layer. Place this as the top layer before you export your print ready PDF
  • Finally, any elements that are printed white must be set to overprint

Sample White Ink Design Templates