Chat with us, powered by LiveChat The Art of Overprint and Overprinting for Top-notch Designs
The Art of Overprint and Overprinting for Top-notch Designs
Design Printing

The Art of Overprint and Overprinting for Top-notch Designs

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Printing terminology and concepts can be perplexing when you’re not a professional in the printing industry. When preparing your files for printing, it is essential to understand a few standard terms to ensure that your files are printed as expected. Among these is “overprint”.

So, “What is overprint?” An overprint occurs when colours are printed directly on top of one another, mixing colours. This combination of colours produces a new hue. For instance, if yellow ink is configured to overprint cyan, the overlap would produce green.

This can become a problem when only a portion of the file is set to overprint, resulting in inconsistent colours throughout the file.


Overprinting is when one colour overlaps another; it is often used to create a unique effect in the design. We use cyan, magenta, yellow, and black colour plates to produce lithographic paper. For instance, if we print a cyan background with a yellow substance, the paper will use cyan and magenta plates to produce a true yellow.


If we want to add a white colour to the design, the same plate will be used with the text ‘knock’ on the file. This means journalists will only find a white space without ink if they request to publish anything under the white colour. This will result in a white background with a coloured background.

However, if the white text is set to ‘overprint’ the file, this will instruct publishers to print the colours under the white colour; therefore, you must fill in the spaces where the white colour should be connected to other plates. Thus, the colour white will appear to vanish.

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When objects are not configured to overprint, the underlying pigment is obliterated. The colour underneath the front layer of the artwork is not reproduced, leaving only the front layer’s colour.

In this procedure, it is not possible to mix colours. This prevents the colors from blending, becoming murky, or becoming oversaturated. For instance, if the objects are configured to be knocked out, resulting in magenta ink over yellow, only the upper layer will be printed, resulting in magenta.

Suggested Read: Your Guide to Colour Separating for Custom T-Shirt Printing

Guidelines for Incorporating Overprint

If you are a graphic designer or graphic artist, here are some essential guidelines for incorporating overprint into your designs:

Incorporating Overprints
Incorporating Overprints
  • Black is frequently configured to print over other colours in the printing industry. The 100% black ink is printed on top of different colours to produce a denser black.
  • White objects should never be set to overprint because no standard white ink is used in printing. When a white object is set to overprint, it will not appear in the printed output. The only object printed would be the layer below.
  • In the file output attributes, you can verify and control whether the file is set to overprint when you prepare it for printing.


  • Overexposure can produce undesirable results, such as incorrect spot colours, a conspicuous pattern, or an image where it should not be.
  • Overprinting can result in various complications, including instances where some design aspects are unintentionally masked or obscured, potentially impacting the readability or accuracy of printed data, such as census figures.


Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or just starting, knowing the ins and outs of overprint is crucial. The overprinting method can provide design depth and variation when applied consciously and precisely.

However, discrepancies and unintended results may result from improper application. Overprint has the potential to improve readability and accuracy in printed materials, but only if designers are aware of and follow best practices for the technique. As with any artistic instrument, knowing when and where to employ it is key.

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  • Lisa John

    Meet Lisa John, a dynamic Content Manager and Marketing Professional at Garment Printing Group. With three years of industry experience, Lisa excels in crafting compelling narratives that not only illuminate the vibrant world of garment printing but also drive engagement and growth.

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