Suppose I have some vector shapes or even a complex composition in a AI file format. For portions of this I would like to use metallic inks to give it some flair.

For the moment, I have just colored these sections with a gold hexcode as a placeholder. Though it has now dawned on me that I don't actually know how I will need to communicate with my software that renders my image or the firm/hardware of the printers that will ultimately print out my art.

For context, it won't all be metallic, just certain portions of the images.

According to this post: Gold Metallic Pantone Colour for Print , I should just design as normal and communicate to the print shop that I want to use metallic ink.

In my application, there will be many different images, all with different amounts of gold. In some cases there are areas I want to be gold metallic and others to be plain gold.


Must I explain to the print shop or supply them with the exact hexcode or pantone that I want to be printed in metallic form? My concern is that if it's very time consuming and difficult for the print shop it will be expensive for me; perhaps there is a standardized way of handling these types of orders?

[Aiming for an end form factor of a binded portfolio/book]

  • In Illustrator, make sure the colour you use as a stand-in for metallic ink is a spot colour. Talk to your printer. Commented Jun 25 at 13:15
  • you should definitely check with the printer to be sure they even support customers sending files with spot colors (i.e. not just CMYK or RGB).
    – Yorik
    Commented Jun 25 at 16:08

1 Answer 1


This would be a classical "expectations vs reality".

There is no "Normal"

On that post, you can see that if you send the file to be printed with 1 metallic ink you will have a dull, flat result that will have some glare at some angles, but that is it.

A file to be printed on 1 spot ink is just a grayscale image. But specifically a gold ink needs to be highly contrasted. A.

You probably have a decent look on a less contrasted file B.

But you can not have a normal grayscale file C. You can but it will look weird.

enter image description here

In the end, metallic ink is just 1 colored ink, and in some conditions when you have a light behind you, you can see a glare. D but if your image has some gradients because it is not fully contrasted, the gradients can be confusing vs the "glare" E.

enter image description here

It can be a flat image or maybe experiment with some gradients.

But you still can do interesting stuff. But you need to clearly define what is what ink, indicating it as a spot ink on your file.

enter image description here

You could extract some specific zones on rare occasions, playing with masks.

But the file should be quite specific. You will get collage-like results, not shiny glossy results.

enter image description here

Your specific question.

perhaps there is a standardized way of handling these types of orders?

No one will take the idea from your brain and translate it into a finished product without cost.

A printer normally does one thing. Print. And they will print what you have. If you do not have it it needs to be done. So you then need a designer to translate your vision into a finished design that is feasible to be printed.



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