How to create Iridescent print effects

January 27, 2021, by Lisa Saville

To stand out in a world saturated with marketing material, your printing needs to be unique and eye-catching. Iridescent effects are easy to create, affordable to apply and could be the deal maker when it comes to getting your work noticed.

Our ability to print digitally with metallic silver and gold is not new, but being able to layer the metallic ink underneath your CMYK colours in varying opacities, allows for a wide variety of results that can be as wild and sparkly or as sleek and subtle as your artwork requires.

To create vivid metallic hues you simply apply silver or gold ink underneath your CMYK colours. We recommend a maximum opacity of no more than 60% for the metallic underlayer to achieve the brightest results and the CMYK layer should be set to “overprint” to allow the metallics to shine through. When metallic silver is used underneath black and white photo images, the stunningly subtle results are reminiscent of the silvertone images from the early days of photography.

To create further interest, clear gloss varnish can be applied on top of your printing. This has a dual impact: appearing glossy on top of CMYK, but having a matt effect when placed over metallic areas, resulting in unique positive and negative shifts of light as your paper is viewed from different angles. This effect can also be used to create watermarks to prevent people from forging sensitive documents. As with the metallics, the clear varnish should be set to “overprint” the layers beneath it.

Both metallic ink and gloss varnish need to be indicated as separate “spot colours” and should be named as follows: “Gold” / “Silver” / “Clear” respectively. Should you be unsure of exactly how to set-up your artwork for successful print results, we have handy guidelines and colour charts available to help you, plus our own designers are standing by to advise you or even set up your files for you – feel free to contact us now.

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