Ink Question

Hi there,

Can someone kindly explain the difference between the following inks:

Pantone Black (mixing black)
Printing Black

Transparent White (mixing white)
Opaque White (printing white)

Is it just as it’s stated? I use the Pantone Black when mixing with other colours, and the Printing Black if I just want to print pure black? Same for white?

Also, I thought all inks were on the translucent side, so could someone explain opaque white?

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I believe Pantone black (like all the Pantone base colors) is a single pigment ink. It has just black pigment in it. It is principally used to darken other colors when mixing them using the Pantone base colors. Its ratio of pigment to vehicle is undoubtedly adjusted to work correctly in Pantone color formulas.

Printing black is formulated to achieve the best result (visual and otherwise) when used alone to print a black “color.” It may have other pigments in it, most notably blue. This can give it a deeper, richer “look.”

Transparent white is a finished ink but without any visible pigment in it. It is like a clear varnish, but it is not designed to be a varnish. It is designed to reduce the color strength of inks which are mixed with the Pantone formulas.

Opaque white is ink with white pigment in it (which is titanium dioxide, or TiO2 for short). TiO2 is vary opaque, and very heavy.

Pigments (or inks) can have varying degrees of transparency, translucency or opacity. The process colors (yellow, magenta and cyan) are very transparent. The Pantone colors vary depending on what colour we are talking about.

When you print using transparent inks, you are basically printing a colored filter on the paper. The light goes through the ink film, bounces off the paper and then goes back through the ink film to the viewer’s eye.

When you print using opaque inks, the light can’t get through the ink film, so it bounces off the top surface of the ink film and then goes back to the viewer’s eye. This basically cancels out any effect the paper might have had on the color, and look, of the printed area.

Since different ink colors have varying degrees of translucency, you can of course get varying degrees of the effects of both transparency and opacity in an ink color.

The Pantone formulas are formulated to use transparent (mixing) white only. This is what the larger commercial printers (and some of us small printers, like me) use.

However, a large number of letterpress printers on this site use some or all opaque white when mixing colors. To determine whether you want to do this, I would recommend looking at what you want to achieve and what works best for you after some experimentation. This has been discussed before here so if you do a search of this site, it should turn up more info.