Red Over Black Ink

Thanks in advance.

If I am printing a design that includes red ink over some of the black background is there any trick or additive to help the red to cover the black? Or, will the out of the can Van Son red cover the Out of the can black (which I doubt)? Neil

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I would suggest to print the red first and knock it out of the black but spread the red ink a few points. Te black will overprint the few points red.


I’ve never done this because I would never find myself in this sort of a corner. But, why not put down the black, and then overprint with opaque white - then wack the red over that in exact register. I’m assuming traditional materials. Traditional letterpress. if the job is digital to photopolymer then do a knockout for the red, and put a bit of a spread on the red plate to adjust for misregister. that would work to for ( wash my mouth out) offset.

Thanks very much. Please explain what “spread the red ink a few points” means. Thanks iLP. Neil

I mean that if you are designing using software and not traditional, then design the black, select the red and use chokes and spread commands - in Illustrator or indesign or Quark ( my preferred - but I’m Aussie). So what is red is spread by your specs, maybe 2 points, say. Then when that plate prints , it will overlap the black. Black of course will swallow up the red.

big boy press
The spread referred to in the above post is often referred to as” trapping ” you basically are allowing one image to overlap the other by a whisker to give you increased chance of attaining register where you want no edge that meets to show white . This is done at the design stage normally but there were tricks to get around it too ,one was to place a small cut of clear film direcltly on the plate in the area the trap was required ,this would raise the copy film sufficiently so as to allow light to expose outside of the films image which would basically create a image that was larger than that on the copy film . This may prove difficult with polymer but it certainly worked with offset technology and if you choose the lighter colour to enlarge the area in question the problems i envisage would be negated by the over colour black anyway .

you would probably need 2 coats of white just to knock out the black………..

Yes, or even better - with a perfect registration. First silver covering the black, then opaque white covering the silver and finally red mixed with approx. 5 to 10 % opaque white. This will work.
Gott grüß die Kunst

How about this- print solid of red then overprint the black with knockouts of what you want in red. Simple.

Because pictures really can be worth a thousand words, here’s a link to a tutorial I found online about what trap is, why it’s used, and how to do it.

At it’s most basic, it’s making sure the colors overlap a little so that the paper doesn’t show through.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

This is all hugely helpful and informative. Thank you. Neil

To close the circle, I used Photoshop to create two plates; one with the balck, and the red overlay area knocked out and with proper registration, it turned out fine. Thanks once again. Neil

reiterating; black always prints last on traps.

A reverse is the best way to go. Any attempt to lay color on top of black is wasted effort unless it is carefully planned foil. This has been quereid here often.
In the digital environment it is no big effort. 20 years ago they were already doing undercolor removal in process work to save ink. If you aren’t intending to blend two inks on the sheet for a third color. do not over print them.