The ink darkens the paper from one to several shades adding contrast to the design.
People love letterpress for more reasons than I could explain in a single post, but one reason is rooted in the unique visual and tactile effect it produces. An effect that is quite popular is the use of blind patterns and designs. To achieve additional contrast, we often use transparent white ink to add subtle shading to the print.
These business cards, designed by DeAnne Bedier, are the perfect example of how transparent white can be used to add contrast. We used 220lb Lettra in an Ecru color to allow for a heavy impression.
This closeup shows the difference in color of the paper and print. Because the large text was designed as a knockout, the letters remained raised on the sheet while the surrounding background is pressed in (another cool effect).
Above is another example of the use of transparent white ink, this time on a Tabriz Blue paper. This photo was taken from business cards we designed for photographer Inku Yo, that he recently re-ordered.