Important Design Factors To Consider When Printing Onto Colored Paper

Colored papers can be used to create unique prints, but before you try it's worthwhile knowing what some of the issues are. Here we explain some common uses of colored paper prints, and the issues with color that you may need to take into consideration – especially when you consider the way certain colors interact with others when transparent (which applies to printing ink.) 


Printing Onto White Or Colored Papers

In digital print, we usually print onto white paper. There are different finishes – gloss, silk and uncoated – and various weights, which is measured in pt (or gsm). The paper is almost uniformly white. Some are a fraction more yellow or blue (cooler or warmer) but we are only talking about tiny amounts, and you’d never be able to tell the difference unless you held two slightly different brands in your hand at the same time. 

But what about colored papers? Manufacturers do offer entire ranges of colored digital papers, but of course you do have to take the color of the paper into account when designing your print artwork. 

vivid paper colors

Art Prints With Colored Paper

If you want to be creative with colored paper, then it's slightly different to printing more utilitarian items such as copy pads. We need to understand how the color of the paper affects the overall color of the print. 

The CMYK colors used in digital print are basically translucent, not solid. With white paper this is fine – the colors of the print are unchanged. With colored papers, the color of the paper influences the print, and how your art wall print will look.

pearlescent paper

Pale Colored Digital Papers

If you print onto pale cream paper, any photographs that you print will take on the creamy yellow hue of the paper. People’s faces will look more yellow and jaundiced.

With a very pale colored paper, you can almost make up for this by pulling some yellow (or whatever the relevant color is) out of the artwork.

Done right, you can achieve natural-looking photo/artwork reproduction, but it can be tricky and you'll need to run some test prints to make sure you've got it right.

vivid colored paper

Vivid Colored Papers

Once we get into more brightly colored papers the problem of color shift becomes much more significant. If you print yellow into a blue paper it will come out a very dark green. If you print blue onto a red paper it will come out almost black. With vivid colored papers this is almost impossible to adjust for, so the idea is to either just use black print (the most common way) or take advantage of the extreme color shift of your artwork as an artistic effect.

Printing black-only is often a cheaper way of printing anyway, so it can be great to save money, and black print onto a colored paper can also look really cool! Printing colored artwork onto colored paper can have unpredictable results, but at least with digital printing you can run a few copies at a low cost, unlike litho printing where you would have to pay the setup charge just to see what it would look like.

Not Sure If You Can Print On Colored Paper?

If you have a certain digital print design that you'd like to use with colored paper, but aren't sure how it will actually turn out in print, then we'd be happy to share our advice beforehand – or to recommend a colored paper type that may work better for your prints. With so many paper types, weights and colors out there, and with multiple finishes available, there's endless choice when it comes to putting your design into print. If you aren't sure that your design will work on colored paper, just visit the contact Aura Print page and get in touch with one of our team members – there could be a whole range of printing options open to you!