I'm trying to plan an art print, and I need to use overprinting to reach the colors I'm after. For the most part, Illustrator's multiply blend mode seems to function the same as the overprint preview. But not always. Different colors all seem to work differently.

Can anyone explain why this is happening?

enter image description here

After further studying this, it looks like the literal Cyan and Magenta colors work as expected, but color blends don't. Here's an example of two boxes that are close to cyan and magenta, and two that are actually 100% those colors:

enter image description here

  • 3
    Do you actually have Overprint Preview turned on? Is only the cyan set to overprint at the top? Only the red set to overprint in the middle? I can't get the same results you show in your sample. Is your Document Color Mode set to CMYK? Is something a spot color?
    – Scott
    Aug 16, 2017 at 5:55
  • @PickleRick agreed, i too can not replicate this.
    – joojaa
    Aug 16, 2017 at 6:57
  • This question ins potentially good, but the first option does not make sense, there is no way cyan and red produces green.
    – Rafael
    Aug 16, 2017 at 9:47
  • @Rafael, Try it. It actually behaves the way the OP describes. You're correct that it doesn't make sense, yet it is the way it works.
    – 13ruce
    Aug 16, 2017 at 16:03
  • @LateralTerminal perhaps, but it doesn't answer why it looks this way in the preview.
    – James
    Nov 14, 2017 at 20:07

1 Answer 1


Overprinting only works on spot colors and (pure) C, M, Y, or K. If you change the color type to spot, you will see the results you expected.

Caveat: using spot swatches in conjunction with transparency effects like multiply or <100% opacity levels may cause unexpected output results. The overprinting attribute doesn't cause these issues.

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