Good day. I have no experience on this whatsoever so any help/insight from you would be very much appreciated. :) (my very first post too! :D)

I think posting the picture will help me explain things further so here it is: enter image description here

Posted here is our draft of what our bulletin board (a group project) will look like. I'm a bit concerned with the text because I don't know if printing it on a black paper [to be specific, an 8.5x11 cut-out from a cartolina. Black papers (if they even exist) are nowhere to be seen in any stores I've been] would work. My question is, is setting the color of the typeface to say, gray, and then printing it on the 'black paper' would be seen? Would the colors combine? How about if I print the turquoise text on the black paper, too? If not, can you suggest any alternative? I thought of printing this entire design but I decide not to because the bulletin is quite big (26 and 1/2 in X 44 in). It will cost us a lot of ink, I believe (or not?). Thank you so much for your time and to whatever help you can extend. :)

Edit* I use inkjet printer.

  • ink is not in general opaque (Except for black, but black on black is well black) it subtracts color from background, while a print shop might use custom inks normal office printers will not. So this will not really work without custom ink.
    – joojaa
    Aug 3, 2014 at 17:37
  • 1
    We need a lot more info here. What kind of printing are we talking about? Inkjet? Offset? Screen printing?
    – DA01
    Aug 3, 2014 at 19:31
  • 2
    No. Using your home/office printer will not work with black paper.
    – Scott
    Aug 3, 2014 at 22:57
  • @Scott: Citizen used to make a printer which could print with white, silver, and gold "inks" (meltable pigments I think). It was slow, ribbons were expensive, and I don't think any drivers have been created since the days of Windows 98, but being able to print white, gold, and silver was pretty neat.
    – supercat
    Sep 19, 2014 at 16:55

4 Answers 4


Dark backgrounds, in print, are typically handled in one of two ways:

  1. white paper, black ink (print the background)
  2. dark paper, use special opaque inks (print the foreground).

Depending on the method of printing, one may be more common than the other. With offset printing or ink-jet, it'd nearly always be option #1. For screen printing, it'd quite often be option #2.

  • Dang you beat me to it
    – joojaa
    Aug 3, 2014 at 19:34
  • Hm... I have to use option 1 then. How about if I go to a shop and print it using laser printer? Will it work? Thanks again. :) Aug 3, 2014 at 23:27
  • @troubledwater a laser printer is the same concept...you'd be printing black ink on to white paper to create the black background.
    – DA01
    Aug 4, 2014 at 4:00

Printing works, generally, with subtractive color. This is to say that pigment that is non-opaque is put on top of the substrate, usually paper, that forms the base color of your print. The pigment then eliminates the reflection of certain colors. This means that your print background has to be white OR it reduces the amount of colors you can use. If you use black all you can get is darker black.

It is possible to get ink that is opaque, but it does not mix color well, this is fine in the case your trying to achieve. You wont be able to do this with most office printers, they just dont stock this kind of ink. Usually what the commercial printer will do is use opaque white to mask the areas where you want colors and then print on top of that. But in this case it would be possible to use two opaque inks. You should discuss this with your printer.

Easiest is often to print the black.


If you know how to use Photoshop, you could try to do it on there. Be sure to create layer masks (so you don't mess with the original image you opened) set the background layer to black and the font as turquoise and just print on white paper. Be sure to print with a decent printer otherwise the black will fade to a grayish color. InDesign should also do the trick. Hope this helps.


Practically, you will need to print on white paper. And yes, that will take a lot of inkjet ink. Your best option is to take it to a shop. Given the size that you are creating (26.5 in. x 44 in.) it would be ideal to have it printed on a poster-size printer so that you do not need to piece it together. Otherwise, you will get a series of tiled prints that you will need to trim and assemble.

I suggest that when you create the art you make sure the black is not just 100% black (K) but also incorporates at least a little cyan (C), magenta (M), and yellow (Y). A printer calls this "rich black", and a good formula is 40% C, 20% M, 20% Y and 100% K.

  • I didn't know this, thank you so much. Valuable information. I think this will solve the problem of me printing at 100% black K and getting a printout of 30% less black (not as black as it appeared on the screen) Aug 6, 2014 at 1:11

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