My client needs a translucent business and this is the first time I am going to do create a design that's going to be printed on translucent plastic material.

I am a bit worried about how the design will work with it. Are the transparency going to work just by leaving transparent background in the required areas and setting opacity value of layers to something more transculent.

Here's an example of the stuff I am talking about enter image description here

My question is should I keep working the way I do for paper business cards or there are some extra steps to take to achieve a perfect translucent effect. And do I also need to change the documents property from CMYK to something else because I guess CMYK doesn't produce PNG outputs.

  • 2
    Possibly obvious, and not directly connected to the main thrust of your question, but keep an eye on a "flipped" version of the design since, unlike a normal card, it will be seen from the other side.
    – TripeHound
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 11:36

1 Answer 1


The opacity of the colors in your file have no real bearing on the opacity of the substrate you are printing on nor the inks that would be used.

In other words, if you have a layer of 100% black set to 50% transparency, that doesn't mean you will print with black ink that is 50% transparent. Rather, you will print with solid black ink that will have 50% coverage via a line screen (most typical situation).

A less typical, but certainly valid alternative situation is where you may want solid coverage, but translucent colors. Do do that, you'd need to use special custom inks that are translucent and then set them up as spot colors (not something you can do with a PNG file and is a bit tricky with PhotoShop in general...you'd want to use something like Illustrator to handle that). FYI, it appears your sample image is set up this way...using a white ink that appears roughly 70% opaque but printed solid.

It's probably safe to assume that you'd set up your file like you'd be printing on paper, except it will be printed on clear plastic. However, I strongly suggest you talk to the printer directly to get more details as to how they handle this.

  • That answers my question. :) Thanks for helping! Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 5:05

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