Sorry if this has already been asked,I'm not entirely sure how to search for this. I'm working on a design that has a gradient on it. The idea is that part of this is actually transparent when printed So that it shows the material underneath (it'll be printed on a metallic aerosol can). Is there a standard colour to make it clear for printers that certain parts of designs need to be transparent?

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    One approach is to flatten your design ... turn it into a single raster (ie PNG or possibly CMYK TIFF) image. That way the appearance of transparency is preserved in the image, though nothing in the final art really is transparent. – Steve Rindsberg Nov 30 '18 at 15:43

This is indeed tricky. Technically white is transparent, also technically no color is transparent also. However, there is not really a entirely set workflow for this. It may be that:

  • The press will just print all white as transparent. This entirely depends on their setup.
  • The press will assume white needs to be added to everything
  • The press wants white as a spot color

Now, it is Imperative that you talk to your printer, then write what you just talked about down into a document that you permanently attach to your project print instructions, in a form your printer wishes to have this. Then kindly remind people that you have special needs.

Otherwise there is a nontrivial chance they get it wrong. Of course they may get it wrong regardless, been there seen that.

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You don’t need to “visualize” it for the printers. You would have to talk to them to define the proper color set up. In a CMYK print, white would be non-printing. But maybe the can will be printed with spot colors, maybe even including white, in which case 100% white would be printed white, not transparent. It all depends.

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  • Even if not explicitly requested, printers actually appreciate mock-ups and visualizations. It can be sometimes extremely difficult to communicate visual information verbally - and this can result in confusing job instructions for everyone in the shop. Providing mockups can help mitigate any problems and reduce errors that might arise. – superluminal Nov 19 '19 at 21:12

I usually submit an artwork that explain my intentions. Often when there is white or transparent part of a logo/print I use a background in a contrasting color, for example green or pink and also a text explaining why it is there. You can never be too clear in your communication.

enter image description here

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