Printing Tips

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How do I use the Printed With Soy Ink Trademark?

Soy Ink Trademark

If you use soy based inks in your print project, you can use the "Printed With Soy Ink" logo to show your environmental concerns. There is no charge for using the SoySeal trademark, but companies are required to sign a user agreement before using it. The one-page document states that the SoySeal may be used only when soy ink is used.

How do I find a printer that uses soy ink?

Want Soy Ink?

The National Soy Ink Information Center maintains a database of printers who have signed a SoySeal user agreement. For a complete listing of SoySeal-certified printers in your state, e-mail your request to the National Soy Ink Information Center at

How do I achieve crispness in offset printing?

Crisp Offset

If you want crisper images and more detail in offset printing on porous papers, go for fewer Lines Per Inch (LPI) screening for your press run. Bring it on down to 133 or 120 instead of 150 or more. Remember, you will lose some detail at this low LPI, so don't use fine line drawings or crisp photos unless you want the effect of softness. This method of offset printing often works well with illustrations in watercolor or pastel.

How do I test my ink color on different papers?

Testing Ink Color

Paper color will affect your design. Remember that if you print a 100% color on porous paper using offset, the ink will sink into the paper fibers, spreading out physically and losing precision. The paper color will affect the ink color even more in this case. Use a copier or scan your design onto transparent film and hold it up to paper samples. This will give you and your client an idea of how the colors in your design will look on different color papers. This isn't a perfect practice, but it may make you aware of fine lines (including type) and other possible design problems before you go to press.

How do I find a printer?

When In Doubt...

...Ask your printer what his capabilities are in the printing process. Have them show you samples of previous work. Bring a design sample to show them what you have in mind. Do this early in the design process, BEFORE you make paper decisions or printing processes.

How do I achieve a solid black in printing?

Methods of Obtaining a Solid Black

Solid blacks in printing are hard to obtain. One way to achieve success is to use opaque ink in a silkscreen printing process. This will work on most any surface, such as paper, wood or cloth. Or if you are using 4-color process, strip in a screen of 40% cyan behind the black. Consider using a low LPI and commit yourself to losing detail in your design. This is a good possibility if you're going for a black background on a portion of your printed piece. Try using varnish to process black ink or overcoat with varnish to gain a gloss. This will help reflect light and give you a deeper black.

How do I keep my design detail in offset printing?

Dense Ink Coverage

Total ink density for offset printing should not exceed 300%, with only one color a solid. Low-quality papers plug up and get muddy with high ink density. You will need to use a high-quality coated paper or a smooth vellum if your design consists of bleeds, full paper coverage and fine detail. These papers are expensive, but you won't get a good result with anything else. Avoid heartbreak and finger-pointing at the printer by remembering this when you commit yourself and a client to a design.

How do I use ink in flexography?

Flexographic Ink

These inks are water- or solvent-based, and do not contain oil. However, many applications contain soy protein, which binds the pigment to the surface of the paper. Ink manufacturers indicate the dry material on the paper has about 15 to 25 percent soy protein in the vehicle. Flexographic printing primarily is used for packaging.

How do I treat a printer?

Artist to Artist

Ask the printer how they prefer to have the camera-ready artwork done. Developing a relationship with your printer can help you in the long run. Printers are artists, also, and most are quite proud of their work. If you respect their craft, they will respect you.

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