How to create a print ready file for white ink printing

Preparing a printing file can be complicated, adding a special ink such as white ink can be even harder if you don’t know how to do it. At PCG, we show you how to do it and what results you can obtain.

Color swatch in Illustrator | PCG Barcelona

In Adobe Illustrator:

To create a vector file, without images, the best option is to use Adobe Illustrator. You should know that white ink is always printed first so if you want white ink + CMYK printing, the white ink layer must be under the CMYK one.

1. What you want to print with white ink must be in a separate layer, apply a “spot color” type of color swatch to it and name it “white”. You must give it a color, it can be white or any other color that can be seen while making the design.

2. An attribute must be applied to each layer: Window ➤ Attributes ➤ Overprint fill or Overprint Stroke, if your design has any stroke.

3. We recommend making the white design that goes under the CMYK one a bit smaller (1pt or more) so that a thin line of the white layer is not visible around the CMYK layer once the design printed. However, this method is not 100% reliable. For this reason, it is not recommended to create very thin lines that must be printed in white ink and CMYK on the same design.

Click to enlarge the image

Illustrator white ink | PCG Barcelona
White ink artboard | PCG Barcelona

This is what the print ready file looks like (right) and what it should look like on paper (left).

Click to enlarge the image

With Adobe Photoshop:

To create a file with images without vectors, the best option is to use Adobe Photoshop.

1. First of all, you have to convert the image to CMYK color mode. Image ➤ Mode ➤ CMYK color.

2. Select the elements you want to highlight with white ink.

3. Once selected go to Window ➤ Channels and create a new channel. Then fill in the selected elements with black (Edit ➤ Fill).

4. Double click on the new channel and indicate that it is a spot color and name it “white”. The CMYK colors must be added on top of this new channel.

5. Unless you want to print with white ink only, in which case you can simply keep the channel called “white”.

Photoshop color mode | PCG Barcelona

How to save as PDF for correct printing:

Save Adobe PDF | PCG Barcelona

With Photoshop:

File ➜ Save as ➜ Choose Photoshop PDF and Save.

A window with other specifications appears. Choose ➜ PDF/X-4:2010 ➜ Save PDF

On Illustrator:

File ➜ Save as ➜ Format: Adobe PDF and Save.

A window appears with several settings: you must indicate that the document will be in PDF/X-4:2010 next to the word “Standard”,
In the “Marks and bleeds” tab, click on crop marks, then below, on the 3 mm bleeds on each side. Don’t forget to save.

Save Adobe PDF | PCG Barcelona
Save Adobe PDF | PCG Barcelona
View Adobe PDF | PCG Barcelona
View Adobe PDF | PCG Barcelona

To check in Adobe Acrobat that the document is correct, go to “Print Production” and “Output Preview”. You should find 5 inks (CMYK + white). If you deselect the CMYK, the elements that must be printed in white will turn black on the screen to allow you to make sure nothing is missing (image on the right).

Contact with PCG

If you need a personalised quotation or would like our team to provide you with assessment for your projects, please feel free to contact us. We are a team of professionals from the sector that will look after your project from beginning to end.

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