Howdy all. I am trying to decrease the learning curve a bit with a couple of questions for you seasoned inkers about metallic ink:

1) how will metallic gold/silver be impacted when adding transparent white?

2) how will other inks (with transparent white added) react when layered over a metallic?

3) any other tidbits of ink strategy with metallics are welcome

ever grateful


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Hi Tony. Since no one else has replied to you, I’ll try to help.

Generally, commercial metallic inks are made with aluminum particles as the pigment. Since aluminum is silver colored, silver ink is just straight aluminum. Gold and other metallic colors are made by adding colored transparent pigments along with the aluminum, like yellow and orange.

Aluminum pigments which are the most metallic looking are in the form of tiny flakes. On smooth papers, the flakes tend to lay down flat which makes the ink look relatively more shiny. This process is called “leafing” by the ink makers. On rough papers the flakes can’t lay down flat so the inks look relatively less shiny and tend to look more like gray. (If you want really shiny metallics, you have to do hot stamping instead of letterpress printing).

To answer your first question, if you add trans white, probably not much will happen unless you add a lot, in which case there might not be enough pigment to cover the sheet and the color of the sheet could come through. (Aluminum pigment is opaque and will not allow the color of the sheet to come through normally).

For your question two, if you use ink with transparent pigments over silver (such as inks made from the process colors), you will get a colored metallic look. However, instead of printing the silver and then the colored ink, just mix the colored ink in with the silver ink and you will be able to do it in one pass. If you use colored ink with opaque pigment, it will block out some or all of the silver effect. However, you might be able to get away with it if you mix just a little colored ink in with the silver.

Normally, to make a colored metallic, you would only need to add a small amount of colored ink anyway. Start with a VERY small amount of colored ink, because once you add it, if you find the color is too dark, you can’t take it out again.

Hope this helps…….Geoff

Geoff — Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. This is very helpful information to have in the testing process.

Best wishes to you and yours.