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TECHNIQUES > Color Reflector


Print Color Images On Any Paper Color

Creating a "reflector" for color toner


Color printers use 4 toner cartridges (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black "CMYK") which are all translucent. To see solid color, there must have a 'reflector' behind them to cast the correct 1 of 16.7million shades from these 4 CMYK toner colors. For normal printing on white paper, light passes through the translucent color toner, reflects off the white paper to then carry the perceived color back to your eye. Light doesn't bounce off the toner! The image on the left dramatically demonstrates just how transparent color toner really is. We made two identical columns side by side but the right column does not have a special white reflector under the color toner image, so these colors all but disappear. As far as the column on the left... that's where our magic happens with our "WhiteTRF" foil.


Here's what's going on...

Let's say you have a big red circle drawn on your monitor and want to print it on a yellow sheet of paper. On the right image here, we've got red on the yellow but it looks orange. What's going on here? Light goes through the transparent red toner, reflects off the YELLOW background and carries back to your eye a mix of yellow and red giving you a perceived color of orange. Orange... all day long.


So how to fix this?

Simple. First create a white reflector base for the red circle. To do this, we need to create a fake background of white over the yellow paper as shown on the left. First create a duplicate of the red circle on screen and fill it with black. Very important! ... now select the black circle and add a "1pt" (Point) perimeter white line, meaning the 1pt line you're adding encroaches INTO the circle's perimeter making the black circle a tad smaller that prints. After printing to the yellow paper, add the white foil over this black circle and you have the image shown on the right. This is the reflector to the transparent red that's coming next.


Place the print back into the printer's manual feed tray and print the red circle. The color image will now print in the exact same spot with a very slight overlap that you won't detect. The red will be a bit larger than the white reflector. Remember that we made the black toner circle a tad smaller by adding a white line so the red is basically over-printing which helps with any mis-registration of the printer during the second print so you don't get an edge of 'white' creeping out from the red. Color toner will print beautifully over all foils. Having any white foil creep out from under the color will make everything look terrible so this "trapping" technique is very important.


Setting up your artwork to do this "trapping" is normally done in a graphics type application like Photoshop, Illustrator, CorelDraw, etc - any graphics program that has "layer" control. If you're not familiar with "layers" it's all quite simple. Layers are just that... a stack of identical images you can turn on or off when it's time to print. We understand this may sound complicated, but once you try it you'll get a full understanding of how simple it really is and the power the white foil gives you. WhiteTRF foil ... because white is the one color you just can't print!


Customers have asked, "Why don't you just carry pigment color foils of all shades in addition to the 3 you do (grey, black and white) so we can just transfer a solid foil color like red?" The simple reason is that color laser printers (and color copiers) can reproduce 16.7 million colors with just Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black toner cartridges. Granted, 16.7 million shades isn't a lot (your eye can discern about 10 times that number) so it comes down to logistics. Why try to replicate what already exists? Nobody could offer 17 million pigment foil colors. If we had 10 shades of red, someone would want an 11th!  Since you can now master "pigment color" on dark backgrounds with our WhiteTRF foil, you've got the best of all worlds to be able to print WHITE, a dozen METALLICS and FULL COLOR on any paper color. That's a powerful capability all around!