Greetings fellow creatives and print/paper enthusiasts, my name is Chris Corsi. I’m an Intern at Parse & Parcel as well as a freelance illustrator and designer. Over the years I’ve done some light experimentation with digital printing and paper. For my latest personal project I decided to really dive in and explore the spectrum of paper options. Originally I designed this poster with Mohawk Loop Milkweed in mind. Although I found my results with the Mohawk Loop sheet to be extremely successful, I felt the urge to experiment with paper color and digital printing, where the results would be less predictable to me. I had been itching to work with the Neenah Environment series for a while so after realizing I was going to be doing a bit of experimenting I went straight to the swatch book and started pulling samples.
The run I did on the Neenah Environment series gave way to some very interesting results. Stone, Desert Storm, and Husk were all just about as successful as the Milkweed print but each gave the illustration quite a different feeling. Even further along the spectrum of a change in “feeling” were the prints done on Honeycomb and Wrought Iron.
Dealing with plain old print toner presents some hurdles, but working within the confines of what a toner based printer is capable of isn’t necessarily a bad thing. No, it’s not like screen-printing, you cannot ultimately control each colors transparency and layering, you don’t get those “happy accidents” of misprinting, over-flooding, etc, but what you do get is an image that is completely identical to how you illustrated and or designed it. So when you think about it, ultimately you are experimenting with the paper.
If you are not working with a printer who has an opaque white toner option (I did not) then consider the following…
If you want to control the image/paper relationship as much as possible, pay attention to your CMYK levels for each color you are using in your design. More saturated colors will typically use two to three colors (hence why they stand out so well) but lighter colors, for example, the cream color the clouds in my illustration, will be the most effected by your paper color choices. You can see in the Honeycomb and Wrought Iron prints that the clouds are nearly invisible due to their lack of color build up. It might seem like a common sense to manage your CMYK use and understand how each element will print, but it really is the most important aspect if you want your prints to be successful. Keep that in mind and you might even fool a few people.