Tip for Your Designer: Toner and Large Solids

Tip for Your Designer: Toner and Large Solids

Software tools give creatives the ability to design with almost limitless boundaries. If you can think of it, you can design it. What must not ever be forgotten is to design within the limitations of the printing process.

One example of this point is reproducing large solids or tinted areas on a toner-based device. While lithographic presses have the ability to reproduce solids evenly, toner-based devices have a tendency to mottle, show unevenness, or even banding. This is because ink and toner are radically different materials.

When toner is applied to paper, it is dry. Toner is not actually absorbed into the paper fibers, instead, it is fused to the sheet using both heat and fuser oil, creating a bond.   Consistency lies in how evenly the toner was applied to the paper, and how evenly it was fused to the paper. In contrast, ink on an offset press is applied to a sheet via a series of many ink rollers that carry a high volume of ink to the paper. Additionally, the ink is absorbed into the fibers of the paper, eventually drying through oxidation or some other means.

If tints and large solids must be used in a design, there are some ways to help counteract the uneven appearance associated with toner-based devices. First, try applying a filter (Photoshop Add Noise or Texture filters work well) to the large tint or solids. Another option is to also break up large color areas with other design elements such as text, images, or illustrations. By applying these simple yet effective techniques, you’ll be able to produce a product that is not only engaging, but also prints better.


Applying filters to large solid and tints along with adding design elements (right) can help counteract the uneven appearance found in large solids and tints on toner-based devices.


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