I have a document prepared with Inkscape that contains bitmap and vector elements:

enter image description here

Photo by Steve Johnson from Pexels.

I want to print it on coloured paper (ivory) with an inkjet printer. Of course, the white background will turn ivory, but I want to preserve the other colours (i.e. that the end-result is as close as possible from what it would be if printed on a white paper).

How to “subtract” the paper colour from the document?

Note: I am fully aware one cannot remove colour, and that the print will be impacted by the paper colour and the ink so the end result will be different. My objective is then to design on the screen what I'd like, and then transform it somehow (i.e. removing the “ivory” contribution in the reds, blue, etc.) so that the end-result won't be too far off. I believe iteration and colour fine tuning will be necessary, but I'd like to limit those as much as possible.

Edit: Here is an (exaggerated) example of what I would like the printed end-result to look like (or not):

enter image description here

  • Don't believe you can do that for a raster image in a vector editor. Are you familiar with raster editors? Any photo alteration would need to be done there (and it would be a bit of guesswork.)
    – Scott
    Mar 23, 2021 at 17:54
  • @Scott I'm happy to use Gimp to edit the picture… yet (ideally) I would like the same transformation to be applied to both vectors and bitmap objects. (I.e. that if I match the red of the text with a red of the picture, they end up printed similarly). Filter/Colour/Colour Shift seem to apply to any (selected) object indistinctively, though — I'm just not sure whether it's the right tool for the job, nor how to apply it (or another filter) properly.
    – ebosi
    Mar 23, 2021 at 18:02
  • I'm not familiar with Inkscape or Gimp, so I can't really advise based upon the functionality of those apps. But in general you'd need to determine the exact color of the stock (paper) add that to the colors in your document, then adjust the objects . The problem with the photo is you'll never be able to get white or anything brighter than the stock itself. The photo will get muddier without white, especially that lower right corner.
    – Scott
    Mar 23, 2021 at 18:04
  • 1
    We have a newspaper here in Denmark known for its pink/peach paper. I know that they use some custom color profile to subtract the paper color from the images before print. But of course it only works to some extent and not on white.
    – Wolff
    Mar 23, 2021 at 20:36

2 Answers 2


You can not.

At least is impossible with some colors.

Take for example white color. Printed on colored paper you will totally, totally erase any trace of white.

Now take a complementary color, the blue tones more or less opposed to the beige color. They will look darker because some light is absorbed by the paper and some other by the ink.

Sort off

What you can do is trying to preview and adjust.

One option is to preview it with a layer of the paper color set to multiply and see the results, then you can use the curves and try not to mess up the image while playing with them.

Yes, at some extent

But my guess is that you are trying to use a similar method, opposed as to what multiply is actually doing. The logical choice would be the "divide" blending mode using the color paper you have.

Here is your image with both "corrections" applied. The image, a multiply layer simulating the paper, and a "divide" layer of the same color applied to neutralize the multiply layer.

At least we have the white color back. :)

enter image description here

Your resulting image will look less contrasted on some parts and saturated on other because you have not printed it on paper yet, so it will only have the "divide" layer. I exaggerated the color to see the effects.

enter image description here

The complementary colors, blues, are more saturated because they will be "muted" when printed.

The adjacent colors are dimmer because you will add some more color to it with the paper.

I have not tried it, but I think it is a strong approach. But do not expect miracles. Some information is lost as I said at the beginning.


You can't unfortunately. The colour of the paper will show through the inks. Printer inks as semi-transparent, and anything coloured white is non-printing. I realize you probably don't want to hear this, but this is how printing works. Although you could perhaps tweak the colour balance of images, perhaps by making them a little cooler, you can't escape the fact it's being printed on a coloured substrate.

Probably your best bet is not to print on coloured paper, but instead to print on white paper with the coloured background actually part of the print instead.

Printing on coloured stock, particularly dark coloured stock, is something that is often done with screen printing where a layer of opaque white ink is laid down first, then the colours are printed on top. This process however can't be achieved using regular process/CMYK printing, or with inkjet printers as these printing processes don't include white ink.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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