Printing On Black Card Stock

Hi All,

I am in the process of purchasing/ordering some Vanson Rubber Inks for use with my Adana 5-3 and deciding what colours as a bare minimum I would like to print with to start.

I am interested in printing white onto Black card and some examples I have seen have mostly used hot foil to press white onto black which is not an option I can consider.

I do understand that by using white ink I will not get as strong/vibrant a white as with foil but was just wanting to ask opinions on whether a white ink would actually give a legible impression, and whether purchasing white ink was worth it? I don’t actually mind it coming out a little dull (Greyish) but as I have never used these inks before I was unsure as to whether they would just sink/absorb into the black stock which would be of no use at all!

So far ordering
- Pantone Black (universal?)
- Pantone Red (unsure which one?)
- Pantone White (?)

Can anyone advise please!

Thanks in advance

Edin Gal

image: black-bus-card.jpeg


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The Pantone colors are meant for mixing and thus are not as intense in color as other colors meant for use alone. You are better off getting colors with more pigment for a more opaque laydown. You might have to hit some of them twice to get good coverage on black paper, though.


Thanks Bob,

I suppose it was just because eventually I would like to buy the whole set for mixing so thought I could do it a few at a time and build up whilst still being able to use the individual colours when needed.

And it will also depend on the paper that you will be printing on. Some papers will absorb more of the ink, others won’t. Get some samples of black peper in GFSmith has a nice ebony black in their Colorplan range. Mail them, they have a good sample service.

Printing white on black stock is about the hardest printing you can try to do. It will be legible, but it will not look good.
You can make it look a bit better by hitting it twice. One must be sure that it is dead set into the pins both times.

The reason that “MOST” of the samples you have seen are foil-stamped is because that is the only way you are going to achieve a good bright white on the black stock.

Specific stocks will react differently to the ink. The type of white ink will also make a difference, BUT there simply is not any white ink that will lay down an acceptable opaque image on one pass. Try to add more ink and you simply get a sloppy overinked impression.

The two-passes with white ink will help the opacity, but still not come anywhere near what white foil will do. The nasty part about printing twice is that you have to be dead-on in your registration. A lot of waste will happen in trying to achieve this.

This is something that printers with years of experience and much better/more-accurate presses usually won’t even attempt.

For all of the above reasons, the odds are stacked against you that you will be able to achieve anything close to a satisfactory result, even though you say you would accept a dullish/greyish image.

If you are still up for trying this, GO FOR IT!. Just realize that it is going to be an uphill battle for you. Good luck.


Silver ink works with black stock and looks good

Edin Gal,
Take a look at a Briarpress post I put up about a year ago named “White opaque on black stock”. There is photo and some good info in the related comments.
I will try and find the post about mixing inks but you should be able to mix any color with just a few basics.
Opaque white, reflex blue, yellow, warm red, rubine red, and black. Pantone or transparent white will help you mix some subtle semi-transparent colors.
When mixing, I almost always start with opaque white and add very, very small amounts of the various colors listed above to get to the color I want. You’ll be amazed!
Good luck,

Thank you all for your great advice!

Thomas, yes I have ordered some of the colorplan papers from GF Smith so hopefully will get to do some test prints soon!

Inky, yes the more I think about it and after FoolProof’s post I guess you are both bang on about the registration having to be extremely accurate for two passes.

Phase4 I am working up to the silver ink! I look forward to ordering the metallics soon!

Steve, will search for your post now! great info thanks so much!

Hello Edin Gal,

Different types of ink dry in different ways. Rubber base ink dries predominantly by absorbing into the paper. If you try to print two layers of rubber base ink over each other, the first layer will tend to seal the surface of the paper, so the second layer will have a hard time absorbing, and consequently will dry very slowly.

Oil base inks dry predominantly by reacting with the oxygen in the air to form a “skin” on the surface of the paper. Because of this, the second layer should dry well over the first layer.

For your work, I would recommend oil base instead of rubber base ink. Van Son oil base ink is fine. The main disadvantage of oil base ink is that you can’t leave it on the press for a long period of time (for, say, more than three or four hours, give or take). But you probably won’t do this anyway, so I can’t see that that would be a problem. (I don’t think you would want to hand feed a press for more than an hour or two anyway).

Thanks Geoffrey, that’s great advice, whilst searching for Steve’s post he mentioned above, I have been reading all other black stock/white ink related posts and some people had been saying about knocking the white image out and printing the black. This sounds like a great compromise.

Also just out of interest, does anyone know if acrylic block printing inks that are mostly used for linocuts I believe are ever used to print on a press, or would they not be suitable?

Thanks again

Edin Gal

Printing the black instead of the white is a good idea if you have the right press. I’m not sure if your 3 X 5 press would work that well because you would be printing so much image area in relation to the press size. You might overstress or break the press. (Cylinder presses work the best for large image areas because at any given time, the press is only printing the small area under where the cylinder is rolling over the paper). Also, if you wanted the black to go right out to the edge of the cards (which is called a bleed), you would have to use an oversize plate and oversize paper, and cut the edges off the cards afterward.

As far as using block printing ink, I would stay away from using any ink not designed for letterpress or litho (offset). Our inks are specifically designed for our printing, and have special properties which we need. Other inks may or may not work as well, but probably will not. I recommend that you don’t invite the hassle an unknown ink may cause.

Good luck and Happy New Year!

Here is the link to White Opaque on Black Stock:

i am in milwaukee, wi. why don’t you let me white foil stamp for you?

Thanks Geoffrey, will take your advice and stick to the proper inks! Steve thanks for the link, I read through your post and it was really interesting and really helped a lot!

Eric M, that’s so kind of you! I however am way across the pond in Scotland! I will investigate foil stamping in general as it seems the results that are achieved are far superior white on black!

Thanks all!

Hello Edingal, attached a picture of printing a solid bleeding-off background with reversed out to white type on Colorplan Duplex paper from GF Smith. The paper was duplexed, one side 175 g/m2 Pristine White, the other side 175 g/m2 Ebony Black. The customer wanted black to be printed on the black side of the stock and the reversed type on the white side of the stock. I had to ink twice on my Vandercook Uni I in order to get the correct ink coverage. On the black side, the black ink was absorbed to quickly, and I ended up mixing some transparent white into it, the effect was great.

image: black-on-white.JPG


and by the way, the black ink used is the Carbon Black from Lawrence in the UK, a fine ink!

Thomas they came out great, so let me get this right! the client wanted black ink on the black side and you printed solid black on the white side with knocked out white. When you say you added transparent white, do you mean to the black ink to print the solid black on the white side? Sorry if I’m not explaining that well! also do you have a pic of the other side to see what the black on black looked like, they came out really really well!

Great work!

OK, here we go: I ordered the Duplex paper from GFSmith, one side white, the other side black, the two together 350 g/m2.
On the white side, I printed solid black, with the type and the Universal logo knocked out. In order to get a nice solid black, I inked twice and printed.
On the black side, I printed with black ink, but the ink was absorbed by the paper, by adding transparent white to the black ink, it dried on the surface.

image: black on black.JPG

black on black.JPG