CD DVD Design - Printing On 'Kraft' Paper Stock

A lot of people like the idea of ordering their print on Kraft paper stock because it's more organic-looking and eco-friendly. What they may not realize, is that printing on the brown coloured material is going to make their design look a lot different than printing on standard 'white' coloured paper stock.

The colour of the material affects the colour of the print

Printing onto a white background is the standard for most types of printing applications because 'white' is a neutral colour that doesn't influence the colours being printed on top of it. A simple way to illustrate this would be to print your design onto a white sheet of paper, and then print the same design onto a coloured piece of paper. You should see a difference in the printed result, because the ink colours are influenced by the colour of the material it's printed onto.

Important: What looks good printed on a standard white paper may not look so good on the brown/Kraft stock. Despite this, it's still possible to create some really effective designs but it would be advisable to get a hard-copy printed proof for final approval in advance of the order going to press.

Example No. 1

In this side-by-side example, the same design was printed on standard white cover stock (15pt C1S) and on Kraft stock. You will notice that any 'white' colour that may be in the design is replaced with brown/Kraft because white paper stock is used as a substitute for white ink when printing. If you need the colour 'white' in your design, your printer may not be able to help you as many CMYK printing presses don't have the ability to add 'white' as an extra colour.

This design was created as a black-only print (the grey in the design is a 50% tint of black). Bold designs using dark colours tend to work the best. Trying to be subtle and/or using light colours doesn't tend to reproduce well.

Example No. 2

In this side-by-side example, the same design was printed on standard white cover stock (15pt C1S) and on Kraft stock. Again, you will notice that any 'white' colour that may be in the design is replaced with brown/Kraft because white paper stock is used as a substitute for white ink when printing.

This design was created for CMYK print, and actually reproduced better than we expected. Even so, you will notice (A) how much darker and grainier the print has become, (B) how much the colour of the dark blue sky has been affected, and (C) how the lighter shades of colour (the light skin tones, clouds, and the light blue sky at the bottom of the design) have become muddy in appearance.

Example No. 3

In this side-by-side example, the same design was printed on standard white cover stock (15pt C1S) and on Kraft stock. As in the previous two examples you will notice that any 'white' colour that may be in the design is replaced with brown/Kraft because white paper stock is used as a substitute for white ink when printing.

This design uses the same photograph as shown in 'Example 2' but was converted to Grayscale for printing. You will notice (A) how much darker and grainier the print has become, (B) how the lighter shades have become muddy in appearance, and (C) how, overall, there is a yellow/brown tint to the print.

CMYK inks are translucent

A reason why traditional 'white' coloured papers improve the visual appearance of the print is because of the type of ink being used. Commercial printing is commonly done using the CMYK colour mode:

  • C = Cyan

  • M = Magenta

  • Y = Yellow

  • K = Black

Because CMYK inks are printed on top of each other they cannot be opaque - instead they have to be translucent. This translucency means the colour of the material underneath the print is partially visible through the ink. Typically, the colour of the material should be more noticeable through light print colours than through dark colours. 

Sometimes the results can be subtle enough where the design isn't negatively affected, and then other times the results can be very obvious... it all depends on the design.
 

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