light ink on dark paper

I am new to letterpress and want to do some wedding save the dates for my friend. She has asked for a design on black paper with cream ink. I have never used dark paper before (only crane lettra) so I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on what to use:

1. What type of black paper takes letterpress well?
2. What type of ink to use to show up on dark paper (to look cream color)?

I will be using a craftsman pilot, with photopolymer.

I appreciate your suggestions!

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Unfortunately, this is not really easy with Letterpress. These results are typically seen with Engraving. There are only a few things that will work. One is to order opaque white ink. Then add just a touch of yellow to it on your end to make ivory. Any actual pantone mixed color won’t show up. The other option is to use a metallic. Any of these should print really lovely on black. Good luck!


German Etching Black is a superb paper but since it is a mouldmade it will need to be dampened to perform well. As Holland suggests, an opaque white with a bit of yellow, until it looks like a pastel creme, will do the job.


looks like I need to go experiment with opaque white!

Where can I get some opaque white? I’ve been looking forever for a white ink and don’t find any esp. not in Germany. Any idas?


you can try to mix some yellow into silver as well. That’ll give the ink a nice sheen, and not much is more opaque than a metallic ink.

Wausau makes a nice black paper in the complements line, I have not tried to letterpress on it but has a bit of texture and is fairly heavy so its worth a try perhaps!

Opaque white works fairly well, but you may need more than you think add a little at a time (too much is not good its then sloppy.) Also I found that cleaning up white ink off your press is a little more work than regular inks..

Lammy’s got a great idea. I have also had great success printing silver mixed with white(and with green once, that was pretty) on black strathmore papers for several projects. It requires more drying time, and making sure you are keeping your area and fingertips clean, as silver ink tends to get everywhere if you aren’t careful. But it yields great opaque results. Have fun and good luck!

Pantone has a whole line of mixes just for metallic ink. Some pretty neat colors in there honestly.

does anyone have a suggestion for a vendor that sells a good opaque white ink? i am also working on a project similar to sarah.

I had some success with printing a layer with opaque white (from Southern Ink), drying, and then overprinting with yellow. The result certainly isn’t bright-as-sunshine, but it’s certainly better than direct yellow-on-black, and there’s an interesting sheen to boot.

image: GLIMPSE, yellow on white on black card stock.

GLIMPSE, yellow on white on black card stock.

NA Graphics has a good deal on opaque white ink.

I’ve done jobs like this in two passes, metallic silver on the first pass, then opaque white on the second pass. Works well.

I’ve achieved decent results mixing titanium powder into opaque white (which isn’t quite as opaque as its name implies) and also into silver ink. I got both of those from NA Graphics. I got the titanium powder in the painting section at an art supply store. It does make the ink stiffer and the white is very white, so you’d have to tint as others have suggested.

OK, this is not really an answer, but I gotta ask; a WEDDING save-the-date on BLACK paper?! I dunno, maybe I am just old and out of touch these days, but I always thought wedding stuff tended toward whites or at least bright colors… cream colored paper and gold or silver ink/embossing maybe. Anything but black and dark colors.

I know the first rule is that the Customer is always right and when the customer is wrong, then you refer to rule one. That said, when is it appropriate to suggest other options, especially when what is asked for is going to be really difficult to do well?

If, for a really simple example, a man came to my blacksmith shop and asked me to make him a hammer to hoe his garden with, I might suggest another tool choice.

Metallics work quite well.
Even if I need to print white, I usually strike with metallic silver first.

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