I did a marginal amount of searching but kind of lack the semantics so apologies if this has been addressed repeatedly.

I am in the final stages of a design on a metal can. It's a small can and I have some small text and some intricate designs that I would like to NOT print. What I mean by that is that I would like for the metal of the can to come through as the "color", as opposed to white, for example.

As I approached the issue I thought perhaps that you could set a layer to be non-printing, and to somehow knockout the shapes below. I did some googling re: knockouts and long story short is that I don't feel I have the expertise to even know if I am setting these up right.

What I have done, and what I'm sharing with my team as a "final" is a version where I outlined the text and used pathfinder to subtract those objects from the color bar in the design.

It looks... fine on screen but I'm very concerned that a) this isn't the proper way to do this for the best print results b) there is a better way that takes into account ink and not light

I'm including images that hopefully helps show what I'm getting at. It shows the "on white" and the design also with a contrasty color "behind" to show how my "cutouts" are reacting to the pathfinder (janky) workaround.

I would really appreciate any advice, even if it means telling me I don't know what I'm doing. I've been doing this for a longish time now and if I've learned anything it's that I have more to learn than when I started!

Looks great on screen!

But will it work in the real world?

  • In printing - white is generally non-printing, unless you ask your printer for white ink, or unless their process normally uses white ink. You really need to speak to your printer about this. – Billy Kerr Aug 23 at 9:26

There is no universally accepted practice. It is true that the background is not white but transparent. However not all printhouses react the same way. There are at least 3 different ways they can handle this.

You need to talk with your printer and ask how they prefer to handle this. Then because even printers are human and more importantly the printer you talked to today may not be the same as the one printing. You need to document this and write it in the handling instructions.

I would also ask for a proof of somekind. I have sometimes had problems with this especially if i had specified both transparent and white areas in my print.

  • thank you... so much... sometimes I think I'm too precious about ALWAYS triple checking with the printer, and hence this question... but you are right. Each job requires a confirmation of exactly what might happen. We do get physical proofs here too so that is fantastic. – Luke Geniella Aug 24 at 20:08

Instead of using Pathfinder, use Transparency Mask

In this way, by clicking on the mask area, the elements remain editable and you can add, remove or change them.

enter image description here

  • 1
    I could be wrong, but I don't think this is what the OP is asking. It seems he wants to know about non-printing areas when printing on a metal can. – Billy Kerr Aug 23 at 9:33
  • 1
    This is useful regardless... I think a really great way to deal with intricate designs. Appreciated, thank you. – Luke Geniella Aug 24 at 20:10

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.