Quick Ink Question

Hello, I’m pretty new to letterpress, I actually did my first print a couple weeks ago, a two color business card using letterpress dies I had made from a great company called Owosso graphics. I just had a quick question, I have a texture printed under text, if i wanted that texture to be either transparent, or a transparent sheen how could I go about this? Has anyone used the transparent base litho ink? Thanks for the time and any help you can provide me!

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do you have a jpeg of the texture? a visual might help.

all modern offset ink is transparent, when applied via an offset press. I think the ink film you get from letterpress may be to thick to allow any color to bleed through. Most certainly you would want to use a lighter color on the text and a darker on the texture.

Well its not so much I want anything to bleed through, I first letterpress the texture with the die I had made, I had used a light beige for it last time, and then I letter press the text over that, used burnt umber with, darkened, and with a red tone added, i’m happy with the results, but would like to modify the appearance of the texture. I want the texture to be…slight? I printed it before with hardly any ink on the rollers to get the desired look, now just looking to either give it a sheen, or use a transparent base with just a touch of ink added to it to get a “ghosted” effect. Thanks for your comments!

used to be you could get some specialty inks like a pearlecent white. You could also try either straight varnish or tinting a varnish.

Yes, you could use transparent white offset ink. This is a complete, finished ink with no colorant added. If you wanted a lighter “light beige” than you got last time, and you wanted to apply it with the normal amount of ink on the rollers, start with the transparent white and add just enough of your light beige to it, to get the light print which you desire. You could of course start with transparent white and add a tiny bit of any other color to make a light version of that color.

Always start with a quantity of transparent white and add a small amount of color to that. Don’t start with a color and try adding transparent white to make that color lighter. If you do this, you will probably find that you have to add so much transparent white to get it light enough, that you will end up with about 10 pounds of ink.

Ah good advice, thanks you. I have no experience with varnish and letterpress, can anyone give me the scoop? Has anyone printed straight varnish, or tinted a varnish slightly? Thanks for all the help guys!

I have run straight varnish that i got from a litho shop. Ran fine on press, but really did not add much to the print. I was hoping to get a bit more pop, or shine, relative to what i was getting with just a blind hit or just trans base, which looks pretty muted.
I ended up tapping in a bit of pigment, and got about the same results as what the trans base gives.
I think part of the result depends alot on what stock you are printing on. varnish needs to lay on a denser, flatter surface so it can keep its coat, and allow some reflectivity. On alot of the paper that people are letterpressing these days, most of the shine and pop is getting absorbed into the stock via the squish that everyone loves so much. I have found the same to be true with mettalics. They look awesome when lightly printed on thin, coated stock, but lose alot of their vibrance when pressed in to soft cottony paper.
Good luck, and keep experimenting. You may not get exactly what you think you want, but you might discover something you like better.

natron thank you. I am printing on thin stock, no texture, and the texture(the die) I’m printing does not debose the paper because of its size and shape, how do you think that will work? Thanks again!