Dot Gain

03/11/2008

Depending on what process you’ll be using, dot gain is something that may have a large impact on your final print.
“Dot gain” refers to the ink spread that happens when a printed shape of a certain size becomes slightly larger, due to wicking/seepage of the liquid ink through the substrate. This phenomenon leads to a somewhat predictable amount of change from the saturation values in your file to the values as they appear in your printed piece, which is why unreviewed web-to-print doesn’t always behave as expected.

For example, a 90% gray area, which should print as many ink dots with small gaps between them, may instead appear as 100% black if the gaps close up. Coated paper stock shows the least dot gain — while cheaper papers, like uncoated newsprint, show more. The heavier the ink saturation is, the greater the dot gain; rich blacks are especially susceptible.

Dot gain can be compensated for in the artwork, to some extent, but you may need to examine samples printed with a known combination of ink, paper and artwork to ensure maximum accuracy.

(Actual amount of dot gain may vary)

(Actual amount of dot gain may vary)

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