I'm having issues with the printing of some files. They're text files created in illustrator and then I add an image for background with an opacity at aprox 12%.

It prints out as if it were "pixelated" or basically many micro dots.

Only happens when I try printing the same file with the image as background, if no transparency, it's great in quality.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.


  • Is the text or background image blurry? Or is the image inside of the text? How does the PDF look like at 100% before printing? I am guessing you might be using a low-quality image for the size that you want it printed at. Hard to say without seeing the document and your print settings.
    – AndrewH
    Aug 16, 2021 at 18:01
  • Hi Andrew, thanks for answering! The pdf is clean, sharp and nothing is noticeable on screen. I've also tried saving it as jpeg and printing directly from Adobe illustrator but nothing works. It seems like the printer is trying to fill the transparency with color but on a "dot level". Image is 300dpi same as document and when printed without transparency its very clean and sharp.
    – Isaac Ok
    Aug 16, 2021 at 18:08
  • Here's a photo taken of the print, not sure how well it can be seen. ibb.co/CnWMqpd
    – Isaac Ok
    Aug 16, 2021 at 18:11
  • 2
    How are you anticipating an end-use printer will handle 12% opacity? All it can do is disperse ink dots at 100% to try and represent a lower opacity. Printers don't adjust ink opacity at any point.
    – Scott
    Aug 16, 2021 at 18:31
  • Is the paper textured? Looks rather like the text is rough because the paper's surface is rough.
    – Billy Kerr
    Aug 16, 2021 at 20:06

2 Answers 2


In my experience a good office laser printer can just about print a 5% black flat colour. For inkjet printers I do not know, but it is likely worse. If you do print something very light you tend to get an strange grainy pattern like on the image you shared.

enter image description here

You may have to adjust the image in Photoshop and either making the effected areas darker or full white.

Also lightening up the image in Photoshop instead of placing it with transparency could eventually help.


I believe what you see is just how your specific printer handles printing light tints.

All commonly used printers can only ever print solid areas of ink.

The illusion of different tints is achieved by applying the ink in some kind of pattern. This method is called screening.

On offset print you will often see halftone screening. All dots follow the same pattern. The different tints come from the size of the dots.

On digital printers you will more commonly see stochastic screening. All dots have the same size. The different tints come from the frequency of the dots.

Your photo shows a stochastic pattern. The printers resolution sets a limit for how fine-grained the pattern can be. Perhaps it's possible to alter the printer's resolution setting to achieve smaller dots, but it's not possible to avoid this texture all together.

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