In Illustrator: How do you create the color Grey with just using Black, but without changing opacity? (it can also be used for other colors) Example Whenever we have to print something (shopping bags, wrapping paper, etc) we have to create a template for each color that is used. There is a "cheat" where you take a graphic element and fill it with tiny dots in stead of a 100% solid fill, thus creating the illusion that a second "lighter" color is used. The "further" the dots are from each other, the "lighter" the color will be. But since its the same base color, it saves on having to create another template.

I hope that made sense. enter image description here

--> Original file used by the producer in .pdf format (open in Illustrator)

  • 3
    FYI: the term for what you are asking about is dithering. The images you link are stochastic screening.
    – horatio
    Jan 14, 2014 at 21:24
  • @Matt_2.1 Here is an image which uses this technique. (the red circle bit). Only black was used for this shopping bag. i.imgur.com/MgMHDny.jpg
    – Fusion
    Jan 14, 2014 at 21:39
  • so to clarify the question: you are in need of a method or workflow where you provide plate-ready files for multiple inks where all overprinting and knockout (etc.) is already accounted for? Or do you just need to supply art for a single ink only (1 paper, 1 ink)?
    – horatio
    Jan 14, 2014 at 21:54
  • @horatio A plate ready file yes. And for one single ink (but with the illusion of using two in stead of one). It saves on plate costs for the customer.
    – Fusion
    Jan 14, 2014 at 21:56
  • 1
    You should in any case contact the printer for advice on how to best setup a halftone. I hear that flexography processes can vary pretty drastically – it goes from crude to near-offset quality.
    – TehMacDawg
    Jan 14, 2014 at 23:59

1 Answer 1


Couldn't you just set your black to grey scale Black K and then adjust the black to the grey color you would like. Just a thought.

You currently have your pantone as black U 85% enter image description here

change it to grey scale enter image description here

Side by side comparison: enter image description here

Now your using the color black at 70%

Maybe I'm not understanding 100% what you are trying to achieve.


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