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?

  • 1
    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. Nov 30, 2018 at 15:43

3 Answers 3


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.


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.

  • 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. Nov 19, 2019 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.

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