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Transparency Guide

Transparency Guide

Read Time: 2 Minutes


01 Apr 2019

Hello! I’m Amy, and I’m part of the Studio team at instantprint. I wanted to give a quick guide to transparency that so your print always shows you off in the best possible way.


How Does Transparency Work?

When you create a PDF document, you’ll have lots of layers with different objects on them. These layers overlap to create your finished design – and this is where transparency comes in handy. 

If your top layer has no transparency, it will block objects on the lower layers of your document when it’s printed so you can’t see them properly. That’s why it’s essential to set transparency up correctly before you send your artwork to print.


How to Avoid Transparency Problems

The easiest way to make sure your artwork will look awesome when it’s printed is to ‘flatten’ the layers in Adobe Photoshop. That way, our commercial printing presses can read all the layers correctly.

To flatten, or ‘condense’, all your image layers down into one layer, there are a few really easy options: 

  • If you’re using Adobe Photoshop, there’s a ‘Flatten Image’ command under the Layer menu (or in the layer palette on newer versions)
  • You can also save the whole artwork file as an image file such as JPEG or PNG 

Make sure you save it at high resolution (300dpi) to avoid the artwork looking blurry. 

Extra tip: Once you’ve flattened artwork, it can’t be edited or amended in the future. Keep a copy of the original design file (select ‘Save as’) just in case you want to edit it in the future.


Checking Your Proof for Transparency

When you upload your artwork to the website, we’ll send back a proof for you to approve. Our online tool will automatically flatten transparency in your artwork file before you receive this proof – so make sure you double-check how it looks before sending your design off to print.

If we can’t flatten the transparency for you, you’ll see a warning. If you do get this warning, it’s especially important that you check your proof before approving your artwork for print just in case the flattening process has affected your design.


If you’d like more help with this, you can get in touch with my team after you've placed your order and we’ll be happy to help! Send your questions over to us at pa@instantprint.co.uk.


Top Tip 

Saving your file as a JPEG is the easiest way to flatten your layers ready for print!

Amy Fairhurst

About the Author

I’m Amy, one of the Personal Artworkers at instantprint. I love using my design knowledge to give customers the confidence they need to create incredible looking print every time.