How to Setup White Ink in Adobe Illustrator

White Ink is setup just like any other spot color. What’s different is how you will have to adjust the color between the design phase and final print output.

This tutorial uses Adobe Illustrator CC 2015; however, the process is the same in older versions.

Step 1 | Download a Template

First, select a template from our website. From there, select the product and colored stock you want your final design printed on.

Step 2 | Prepare Your Document for Design

Layers PanelMake sure you are designing your artwork on the layer labeled Place Your Artwork Here and not directly on the template layers. Our templates already have the paper color simulated in the background to make it easy for you to focus on just creating great art.

Designing with the default White swatch in Illustrator will make preparing your file for print extremely difficult. It’s better to start designing with a custom-made White spot swatch.

Keep in mind that transparency effects (like Multiply or Screen) with either the colored stock or the white inks will not print.

Since our inks are transparent, we also print white ink as a backer behind all of your colors. However, white ink is neither perfect white nor perfectly opaque. As a result, each colored stock will impact your artwork differently. To help, we’ve created hi-res scans of all our standard colored stocks for reference. These include the complete CMYK gamut along with White-to-Transparent gradients. We recommend referencing these before finalizing your artwork.

Step 3 | Create a Spot Color

White Ink - OriginalCreate a new swatch as a Spot Color for your White Ink: Click on the top, right flyout menu of the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) and select New Swatch.

  • Name: White Ink
  • Color Type: Spot Color
  • Color Mode: CMYK
  • Adjust all your color sliders to the left so that all CMYK values = 0.
  • Enjoy your new White spot color!

Step 4 | Finalize Your Artwork

Finalize your design using your new White spot swatch.

While we work our keister’s off to give your consistent results from the screen to your final print, color matching cannot be guaranteed on our colored stocks. Even the paper hues shift slightly from batch to batch.


Step 5 | Print-Ready Files

White Swatch - File PrepWhile your artwork looks awesome on screen right now, your files will NOT be print ready unless you adjust the color build of your new White spot color. During output, Illustrator will see your White spot color as “no ink” and leave out that data.

  • Select your White spot swatch in the Swatches Panel (Window > Swatches).
  • Click the Swatch Panel’s Flyout Menu at the top, right of the panel.
  • Select Swatch Options…
  • Using the Color Sliders, change your White build to something bold and obvious, like 100% Magenta or 100% Cyan.
  • Your design will probably look awful. No problem, we’ll fix that on our end.

Step 6 | Save As…

PDF SettingsSave your file as a PDF.

  • Select File > Save As…
  • Save As: Rename the template file.
  • Format: Adobe PDF
  • If using multiple artboards, select the correct Range or choose All.
  • Click Save
  • Adobe PDF Preset: Illustrator Default
  • Under Marks and Bleeds make sure that your Bleed settings are at least 0.125”.
  • Click Save PDF

Step 7 | Place an order

Now you’re all set!  Visit our website to place an order or call us at (1-877-246-3132)

If you come up with any effects you want to test out with white ink or have any questions about how to use it, feel free to contact us. We love talking ink so we’d be more than happy to help you create the unique effect you’re looking for.