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Metallic Inks and Spot Coatings

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NY Metallic-Spot Postcard Image

Thanks to the addition of a new type of digital press, Conquest Graphics is proud to offer an exciting range of previously impossible iridescent colors through the addition of silver and gold ink underlays and glossy clear spot coatings.

The possibilities are only as limited as your creativity, as these new metallic inks offer an entirely new gamut of metallic colors through a virtually endless collection of over and underlay combinations with existing CMYK color builds.

Below, we’ve provided a guide on how to properly prepare your print files so that the silver, gold and spot coatings work exactly as you’re envisioning.

If you are confident your files are prepared properly and won’t need any corrections or adjustments to print the metallic hues you expect, we encourage you to select the option indicating you already have the files prepared and won’t need any help with your metallic or spot coated piece before printing.

If you are not sure how to prepare your files correctly, or even if you are just a little unsure you’ve prepared the files correctly, we recommend you choose the option that indicates you will be needing help preparing your file(s) for print.

There is a small fee for choosing to have our team assist you with preparing your files due to the fact that the process of matching a customers’ files to their exact specifications and expectations can be rather time consuming for our team of designers and prepress specialists.

If you indicate that you won’t be needing any help preparing your files, but you end up needing one of our designers or prepress assistants to help make your files ready for print, you will have to pay the same service fee in full as if you had selected the option to receive help from the beginning.

This policy is intended to both streamline the ordering process for customers who have properly prepared their files and to prevent anyone from attempting to print from files that have not been prepared properly.

Metallic Ink Swatches - CMYK Only

Standard CMYK

Metallic Ink Swatches - Silver Ink

CMYK + Silver

Metallic Ink Swatches - Gold Ink

CMYK + Gold

We will give customers who submitted improperly prepared files the opportunity to fix the files themselves in case the error is accidental, but if the customer must receive assistance to get the files properly formatted, they will be expected to pay the service fee in full.

If the delivery date of a printed piece is delayed because of a customer’s inability to get the correctly formatted files in on time, Conquest Graphics cannot be held accountable for the delay. As with the appearance of other CMYK color builds, if the appearance of a metallic ink or spot coating doesn’t meet the customer’s expectations, Conquest Graphics cannot be held accountable.

Below we’ve included more detailed information about the capabilities of our new press, and a set of tutorials on how to properly prepare files for a metallic ink press.

Looking for metallic ink or spot coating on something other than greeting cards or business cards? No problem! Our metallic inks and spot coating can be applied on almost any of our other existing print products by request. Simply submit a request for a custom quote or call customer service at 800-707-9903

Metallic Ink Swatches and Color Designations

Since specialty metallic and spot gloss effects are applied at the press, your digital files won’t accurately depict the final printed results. We recommend you choose a color to make your spot effects easily identifiable within your files.


A Clear Overlay creates a dulling effect over the metallic hue

CMYK Tint Overlays add color while still letting the reflective metallic ink shine through versus heavy, darker CMYK tones.

Metallic Underlays of Silver or Gold create the base sparkle for metallic hues.

Running Clear over metallic hues creates a dulling effect, just like when Clear is used over straight silver and gold.

Due to the nature of our metallic ink press, it’s important to note that printed pieces can only have one metallic ink (silver or gold) with the option of adding the spot gloss coating on top, which means if you want to use more than one type of specialty ink, you’ll have to go with:

  • Silver alone
  • Gold alone
  • Gloss Spot Coating alone
  • Gold and Gloss Spot Coating
  • or Silver and Gloss Spot Coating

You will not be able to use any of the specialty inks on projects that require a PMS color.

To create color swatches for each of the types of specialty inks, you should create new color swatches in your project that have the following specifications:

Printing with Gold Metallic Ink
  • Gold — a new swatch titled “Gold” (capitalization important)
    • PMS 871C or L: 50, a: 2, b: 24
  • Silver — a new swatch titled “Silver” (capitalization important)
    • PMS 877C or L: 58, a: -1, b: -1
  • Spot Gloss Coating — a new swatch titled “Clear” (capitalization important)
    • C: 0%, M: 100%, Y: 0%, K: 0%
    • Keep in its own layer above the layers you’d like it to coat and make sure the layer’s blending mode is set to Multiply for the effect to work properly
*If you are using gloss spot coating in your project, make sure you Multiply the object over the artwork underneath so the coating prints correctly.

These three colors will serve as digital substitutes for the metallic inks and gloss spot coating. While the gold and silver PMS/Lab swatches aren’t visually identical to how the metallic inks will appear in your finished printed product, they provide close approximations that allow you to visualize the colors in the context of your overall design.

Using magenta for “Clear” spot gloss coatings and setting its blending mode to multiply allows you to easily distinguish which sections of your file will be printed with the special gloss spot coating.

Free Downloadable Templates

Use any of the following downloadable files to get a head start on your next project using metallic inks or gloss spot coating:

Printing Tips and Tricks: Metallic Inks and Spot Coatings


A Clear Spot Overlay adds even more visual interest and depth

CMYK Tints ablend with Silver to create iridescent metallic spot colors and gradients

A Silver Underlay provides the base for iridescent metallic colors

Using varied effects within a job can amplify their impact more than when you use them uniformly across a sheet.

To stay organized when designing for metallic inks and spot coatings, it’s helpful to think in layers. While it’s not required for you to have the over and underlays on their own separate layers, it can be very helpful for visualizing how the printed piece will turn out in the end.

It may be helpful for a designer to also keep each color in its own layer so underlay and overlay effects render more true to life in whichever design software they’re using.

In the following example, we’ll walk you through how to set up a project that uses a combination of silver metallic ink and gloss spot coating.

It is important to note that a clear spot gloss overlay creates a dulling effect when placed over a silver or gold metallic ink. CMYK in this example is used to render the logo and full-color imagery.

A silver underlay provides a flood of high-end metallic color underneath.

Metallic Ink and Spot Coating How-To Video

Example: Step-by-Step

  1. Import vector objects, draw and fill a shape, or select the text that you wish to have filled with the silver metallic ink.
  2. Add a new layer and name it “Silver.” Cut and paste all your objects or text to that layer.
  3. Add a new swatch using either PANTONE® 877C Silver or L: 58, a: -1, b: -1 to your file. Make sure you designate it as a spot color and name it “Silver
    • Remember: Capitalization of the layer and color name is important! It lets the press know where to apply the specialty metallic inks.
  4. Select all the objects in your Silver layer and fill them with the Silver color. If the objects will be placed on top of a photograph or field of color and you do not want the background to show through, select Knockout Group. If you do want to see the background—for example, an image under a clear gloss coating—select Multiply instead.
  5. Now that we've got our silver swatch ready, we’re going to add our clear gloss spot coating swatch, which involves a slightly different approach than the silver underlay. Instead of using a color that actually resembles the color of the specialty ink, since clear has no color, we’re going to use solid magenta as the color of our new “Clear” swatch. Duplicate your “Silver” swatch, and change the color mode from Lab to CMYK. Change the color settings so it’s 100% magenta and nothing of anything else. Keep the color type as “Spot” since all your specialty ink swatches have to be that way for the press to recognize them.
  6. Finally, make sure you change the new swatch’s name to “Clear,” making sure to capitalize the C in clear, and then hit okay, and there’s your clear gloss spot coating and silver swatch!

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