I would like to create transparent graphics for window decals using Photoshop CS6.

The graphics should remain transparent after being printed on foil. By transparent I mean see-through, e.g. a set of light grey lines that you could actually see through.

I am not asking how to create graphics with no white background, I would like the actual grey line to be semi see-through. Is this as simple as changing the opacity settings and is it something that is even design related or it is something that is done during the printing process itself?

  • I would imagine that it's printed on transparent sheet, but you would still need to lower the opacity of your artwork to the proper transparencies. After all, they can't possibly predict what should be transparent and how transparent it should be. But this is just an education guess, I've never done this kind of printing before.
    – Hanna
    Sep 5 '13 at 22:38
  • Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. I have never done it either and even though it seems like such a simple matter, it's actually puzzling for someone with zero experience. What you said makes perfect sense, so I guess I should just go from there. It's definitely being printed on a transparent sheet, my only concern was whether the opacity settings would "translate" to "paper" and remain transparent or if it would just appear as a lighter shade of grey.
    – Timi Desu
    Sep 5 '13 at 23:13
  • 1
    If you have a printer in mind give them a call and they should be able to provide you with the right information.
    – Hanna
    Sep 5 '13 at 23:22
  • Can you elaborate on what the printing process will be? Will you print them yourself, or send them to a printer?
    – JohnB
    Sep 6 '13 at 13:47

Actually your designs need to be just the opposite and the material needs to be translucent not your designs opacity adjusted. In fact, translucent materials such as (plexiglass, acrylic, lexan) usually get double passes of ink to help with the reflection of light. Printing on translucent material is common in lighted signs. If you can provide an example I know our community will help but at this time all I can suggest is you should be using Illustrator and not Photoshop if you plan on dye cutting a window decal and your opacity needs to be set at 100%.

EDIT: Also it is a good idea to ask the printer on their preferred method. If you have trouble understanding what they are requesting you can edit your question.


"Transparency" and "opacity" in DTP terminology is a purely digital term, that only tells you how one image/layer/object will affect another one, when it is on top of another image/layer/object. You are asking to control physical transparency. That is usually done, by printing an extra ink (opaque white) underneath you other colors (or on top, in case of reverse printing). And you obviously need a transparent substrate.

How to prepare the artwork in Photoshop:

Ask you printer if he's capable of printing an opaque white. And if so, how he needs the artwork. He probably wants it like this:

Create a spot channel, and fill it with 100% wherever you need the decal to be opaque. Leave it 0% where it needs to stay transparent.

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