I am working on a multipage document for a client. On the first page (the document cover) we need to overlay some basic shapes (squares) and prepare these to be varnished in production. My experience with this is limited, but i do know in theory all shapes to be varnished should be:

  • sitting on a separate layer
  • marked with a separate Spot color
  • set to Overprint in the Attributes panel
  • not sure about exporting: should I deliver the first page (the cover) separately with the Varnish layer only, or should I include this in a complete PDF export?

Any other things to consider?

Note: i did find the other similar questions related to this, but there is no mention of overprint there, so i posted this new question. Thanks

  • 1
    Sound like you're doing everything right. There shouldn't be any need to supply the cover as a separate file.
    – Westside
    Jan 23, 2017 at 11:07
  • Like @Chris said, looks to me like you have all angles covered. However, (and this is a good idea for every printing project), double check with the rep at your printer to make sure you are providing files in the manner they prefer. Different printers have different file specs.
    – DLev
    Jan 23, 2017 at 13:43
  • I'm aware of that, however with this client i don't have a direct contact with the print provider. I deliver the pdf's and the client deals with the printers (they work with more than one for multiple items). So generally i need to deliver something good and cross my fingers :)
    – Lucian
    Jan 23, 2017 at 13:49

1 Answer 1


Make sure your varnished elements tint is 100% and that no gradient is applied.

Make sure the strokes (if any) are also set to Overprint.

Another way (not better, just different) to set overprinting is to select all elements and apply Multiplication effect.

  • 1
    I would strongly advise against using Multiply as a substitute for overprint. Depending on the pre-press equipment and processes used, the results can be somewhat unpredictable, especially when PDFs are involved.
    – Westside
    Jan 23, 2017 at 13:58
  • I used that method dozens of times and definitely can't see how it could result to something unpredictable.
    – Vinny
    Jan 23, 2017 at 15:42
  • Trust me. I've been involved in side by side comparisons with numerous jobs through different rips, proofers, etc. Sometimes the results are fine, sometimes the underlying colour/image is influenced by the multiplying object (even when that layer/object is excluded from the output). This is company policy where I work and was at my last place as well as at their plate supplier. Best practice is to use overprint for this type of thing.
    – Westside
    Jan 23, 2017 at 17:09
  • Lacking experience with these things I could only take the safe (standard?) option, which is overprinting. Still thanks for your info Vincent.
    – Lucian
    Jan 23, 2017 at 20:18
  • Hi. OK Chris I trust you on that 1, could be a PDF export setting issue, but that's not the point here. Anyhow, my preferred workflow (when printer accepts it) is to export 2 separate files, one with the 4-col job, and 1 with the varnish only. In that case, no need for bothering about overprinting, and it makes things very easy to check in Acrobat Pro: no spot on 4c file and no CMYK color on varnish file. One more thing you should check Lucian: strokes weight! Thin strokes on varnished element are usually troublemakers. Check with printer minimum weight allowed. :-)
    – Vinny
    Jan 24, 2017 at 8:02

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