Shadows with Boxes in Digital Prints

From time to time when printing a shadow over a solid color digitally, we will notice that it creates undesirable results. You can get anything from a thin line interrupting your art to a large white box placed exactly where your entire shadow is located. Many of the times these results are from top-of-the-line print production software. Here’s a quick trick on how to deal with this issue.

Let’s say you’re in Indesign and preparing a file for output so your boss can see your design before he gets out the door for the weekend. Problem is, your file is producing an ugly looking box around one of your large font boxes and you know he will notice it. You can always try printing to a different printer, which may help, but inevitably you will need to fix your files so when it gets printed professionally, you don’t run into a setback. The good thing is, it’s most likely a quick fix.

Each printer has it’s own way that it rips files. In fact, you may have been printing it perfectly to a desktop printer all along, but then out of nowhere you get that phone call from the professional printer that says they have a problem. So let’s take a look at your digital file. You have to consider what is printing your artwork. Since we are talking about a digital printer, we are talking CMYK. Although you can throw in a spot color and it might printout fine, you have to take into consideration that the printer really has no reason to print that spot color exactly like your swatch book. Instead, it has a built in rip that will find the best possible CMYK build. So, with that said, if you place a shadow (or sometimes a transparency) over top of a spot color, the printer gets confused and doesn’t know how to build the CMYK values when it goes from the shadow to the spot color. As a result, you see the printer suddenly change direction and print its own wicked conversion. The easy fix is to convert all of your color to CMYK, not spot. Another trick to consider is to file>print and change the output in the dialog box to “convert” all spot colors to CMYK.