Mixing white?

I have a pantone formula guide that says it requires transparent white to mix a certain color. Is mixing white the same as transparent white? When I mix with mixing white I don’t get the color I want unless I mix with opaque white.

Is this correct?

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Mixing white is transparent white, opaque white is also for mixing, but the differences are similar to watercolors. Most inks and paints are transparent to semi-transparent, and mixing (transparent) white is used if you want the color to be transparent or see through. Basically the transparent medium disperses the color molecules so that they appear to be see through, almost watery. The color of your stock will influence the final color of transparent colors.

Opaque white mixed with a pigment is more similar to gouache paints. The opaque dispersion disperses the color, but does not allow you to see through it, so it appears to lay on the surface of the paper. Opaque colors can look pasty, but used in the right way can improve the look of a color mix, especially in relation to the more dominant black pigment.


Thanks Paul. I am doing some overprinting, with red and blue. The red color I am using calls for transparent white, and is going over the blue to create a darker red. In this case might be better to use the mixing white vs opaque.

You are exactly right.


I find that sometimes mixed ink batches using transparent white can look deceivingly dark, but once you print with them they are actually pretty light because of the transparency. If you don’t want to ink up the press just to test out a color, you can try and old printmakers trick and just use an ink knife, a small dab of the mixed ink, and a scrap of the exact paper that you’ll be printing on to make a pull down, where you drag a very thin stripe of ink down onto the paper to see what it will look like.



beware of transparent white it can color shift over time.

Keegan is right. We found an old (~10 years) can of transparent “mixing” white and it had yellowed to the point where it was almost an amber colour. My guess is that both heat and humidity had a lot to do with it.