Designing a "VOID" type background

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by MassMacGuy, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. MassMacGuy, Apr 16, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2012

    MassMacGuy macrumors newbie

    Dec 16, 2010
    I have a client who wants some gift certificates designed and wants there logo and/or the words VOID to be very faint but show up when copied like if you try to copy a check.

    Is there some type of science to this?

    My thinking and how I have it right now is the background is an 8% screen of PMS 300, the logo thing is over that at 12%. You can faintly make out the visual difference on a hard copy proof, and when I copy it, you do see these things popping out which is what they want, but not as drastic as I was hoping for like when you copy a check.

    So is it something to do with the physical dot pattern itself? And if so how should I best design something like this?

    I'm just using Indesign, does Photoshop need to be used as well to do something to this logo/Void part?

    If anyone has ever had to design something similar, please share any info you might have that would help. Thanks
  2. macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2011
    Hmmmmmm.......I'm pretty sure that special inks are used for checks that will reflect (or absorb) the harsh direct light of a copier. While you might be able to get something working using your own printer and copier (it will require lots of trial and error), it would be a whole other story once it gets out into the world. I would say that there's too many variables out there (different copiers, printers etc.) to have it work consistently. If the client really wants something similar I'd suggest talking to the printing company and see if they have any inks similar to what they use checks and pass the "void" graphics on to them to apply it for the client. I'm guessing the printing costs would go up for that service. If there's any other solution I don't have it. Good luck to you!
  3. Toppa G's macrumors 6502

    Jun 19, 2003
    The exurbs, MN
    I don't believe the inks are what allows the void pantograph to work successfully. While there are inks with special security features (color-shifting properties, for example), the void pantograph is generally created using prepress software and requires specific line screens. A printer who specializes in printing the void pantograph would be a good resource - it sounds like it's not something you can create easily in the Adobe apps and expect consistent results on any output device.

    Here's a thread with some discussion.
  4. upekkharich macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2008
    lil' rock, arkansas
    there is a special paper with the VOID pattern already in the background
    BUT you can fake it

    create the VOID art using fine solid lines that are vector art

    how successful this will be depends on the output method of the original
    if you use an offset printer it is easier to achieve as they can output finer lines which a copier turns into a solid background

    try a 0.25 pt line separated by 0.50 pt of negative space then repeat the pattern of solid lines

    you can make the lines wiggly, too

    if your output device for the original is a xerographic process then you may need to increase your line to 0.5pt and your negative space to 1 pt

    GOOD luck
  5. janalo55 macrumors newbie

    Jan 30, 2013
    PLEASE HELP. How do you "create negative space"?



    I guess that's not what I really meant to ask. You say ".25 pt line separated by .5 pt of negative space" and I don't know how to do that. Thanks!
  6. firedept macrumors 603


    Jul 8, 2011
    I would check with a cheque printing company for your best answer. It is a combination of ink colour and ? Can not remember at the moment what other part is. Used to work across the road from Davies & Henderson who specializes in this type of work. I am in the printing industry 38 years and know for fact it is not the easiest thing to achieve. Can be done though. Like I say, call a cheque printer for best answer. Talk to their prepress people.
  7. upekkharich macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2008
    lil' rock, arkansas
    negative space could be called white space - see the below V for one example of a way to make the VOID pantograph in a fakey way
    when done from completely original art with solid fills the final product is printed with two different line screens

    the non-void art would be printed at a nominal screen value (say 150 l.p.i.)
    the VOID art will be printed at a very high screen value (say 250 l.p.i.)

    when scanned or photocopied the 150 l.p.i. art will reproduce normally, because the scanning lens can see it normally. meanwhile the 250 l.p.i. art will fill-in because the scanning lens, and standard copier/laser printer cannot accurately render all of the fine dots - the dots bleed together and produce the highly legible, easily recognizable VOID type.

    Attached Files:

  8. ukno09 macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2013
    Urgent :(

    Hi upekkharich,

    I was wondering if you still reply.
    I am trying to make a void pantograph, but trying to use a different word instead. What program is good for making these?

    Hope you are able to reply.


  9. upekkharich, Aug 7, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013

    upekkharich macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2008
    lil' rock, arkansas
  10. ratsg macrumors 6502

    Dec 6, 2010
    Would I be correct in stating that you want to be able to watermark your present work?
  11. ukno09 macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2013
    Thank you for your reply!
    This is actually my first time making it for our small company.
    Is making this paper hard?
    I am trying to customize it using a specific word, but if I use professional companies, they charge me way too much. And I only need several papers.

    Is there some steps you can guide me with if you have the time?
    Or, if it is okay for you, I am willing to pay for you if you can make it for me?

    Thank you for your time!
    I will wait for your response.

  12. ukno09 macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2013
    I was just wondering, were you asking me?

  13. Mike30 macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2013
    Making a Pantograph

    A little research will show you that there are a large number of ways to create a pantograph on a laser printer. Patents are great for this. Take a look at Patent number 8,405,882. You’ll see that the basis behind the pantograph is the tonal weight. Here you will see that patterns have been created at the pixel level and then tiled onto the page. Where as you talk about two screens, a lower dpi for the word void and a finer one for the background. You can achieve this by making your own dots. A larger dot for the word void and a very fine dot for the background. The fine dots in the background make a kind of background shade. Today’s copiers work to remove that dirty background in an attempt to create a clean image. Imaging if you printed a document and the paper wasn’t a nice bright white. Without this ability the copier will make a grayish image of the document that you want to print. With all this said, yes your desktop laser printer can make a pantograph but don’t expect it to be of the quality of a printing house can produce. In addition, the quality of toner transfer is affected by weather, quality of toner, age of machine, cleanliness if the optics, and more. One other thing. If your planning on using this for a document that really needs to be secure – Don’t. If you can create the pantograph then that means someone else can recreate you work. After all the definition of Copy is “To Reproduce”. HP is also good enough to help us with our quest to make pantographs. See Links and have fun.
  14. ukno09 macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2013
    Thank you Mike30 for the response!
    Do you know how to make this paper?
    I'm actually new to any of the Illustrator or CoralDraw program.
    People say this is hard to make, but I was trying to figure out first of all how to use the program itself.
    Would you be helpful to guide me on creating this paper?

    If needed, my email address is

  15. Mike30 macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2013
    Pantograph from a laser printer

    I guess there’s a bunch of different ways that you can do this. The link below will take you to a patent that outlines this pretty nicely. I used Photoshop to do this. From the information in the patent I created custom fills. I used the more even fill for my background and then the courser fill for my text color. For example you’ll see Figure 3 is a 24 x 16 square. The squares are your pixels. In total you have 384 squares and 12 of them are filled in. Make this and save as a fill pattern. This will be used as your background. Figure 5 is also a 24 x 16 pixel square with 12 squares filled in. The difference is the filled in squares are near each other. This will be used as the fill for your text or image. You see what’s happening here. You have the same amount of area and the same amount of black being used. When you put your text with this fill on the background fill, your eyes blur it together. The copy machine will try to remove the (what it thinks is) the dirty background. As a result it leaves the larger dots. Basically you’re creating two DPI resolutions in the same print. Your text is course and the background is fine. Figure 6 shows you what happens when you copy it. These guys do one more thing that’s kind of neat. They create a pattern that they place on the top layer. For example pattern number 16 on the front page, the star pattern. So create a star with no fill and a white stroke. You then use this as a pattern. So, on the top layer you fill your image with these white line stars. They act like a cookie cutter, cutting through your text and background fill. It looks like a really complex pattern – but it’s not. You will need to try different patterns to see what works best for you. Ready the info in the paten, it tells you what to do. Just remember – if you can do it, so can someone else. So don’t use this as a security feature for important documents. Security documents should be printed on stock that has security features that were created by an offset press. That way the document was created from two totally different forms of printing. Have fun.
  16. ukno09 macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2013
    Dear Mike 30,

    Thank you so much for your reponse again. This does seem to be tricky..
    I was wondering if it is possible that you make this paper for me?
    My company recently is sending several documents that include our ideas and plans, and I need to have a customized anti-copy paper that needs to be created.
    Would you please be able to help me?
    I will provide any of what is neccessary. Even compensation.

    Thank you! I will wait for your reply again.

  17. Mike30, Aug 12, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013

    Mike30 macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2013
    Pantograph From A Laser Printer

    Dear ukno09
    I can’t emphasize it enough. A pantograph that is printed by a laser printer should NOT be used as a security feature. If you can create it, so can someone else. For example, let’s say you put a pantograph that was printed from you laser printer on your ideas and plans that you mentioned. If I was a competitor I could recreate your documents, alter the information so your ides don’t work, and now you have masters floating around with the incorrect information.

    This isn’t tricky at all. Here’s a video that shows you how to make a custom pattern in Photoshop at the pixel level in a couple of minutes. There’s a ton of videos on this topic. If you don’t have Photoshop you can download it and play with it for 30 days for free or purchase a 3 month subscription to adobe cloud for very little. Create a new Photoshop document at 600DPI 24x16 pixels. You can now easily recreate the pattern from figure 3 in the patent one pixel at a time. As the video showed you, save the image as a pattern. Call it background. Do the same for as figure 5 and call it text. Open a new document, (keep it 600DPI) create the text, turn it into a graphic and fill it with your text pattern. Create a background layer and fill it with the background fill. Print at 600DPI and you’re done. Change the pattern a little and you’re not infringing on the patent. Kind of a dumb patent if you think about it, all you need to do is change the pattern to get around it. The key is to keep the same amount of black that is used in the background and text patterns the same.

    Because this type of security feature is so easily compromised, I will need to decline your offer to make it for you. You might want to make it clear to your boss that this type of security feature can easily be compromised. As the person creating this, your putting yourself in a bad position. Your making the security feature that he want's - but its not secure. Print on pre-printed security paper or use a seal on your documents. Real easily and a lot more secure. Use this homemade security feature for things like tickets to the high school musical or something like that.
  18. ukno09 macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2013
    Thank you.
    I understand clearly and thank you for emphasizing the weak security!
    We are actually a small party event company/organization, getting ready to make some flyers with the hidden message.
    I will make try to make this! Is there a slightly different method if I want to make it a very light green colored background?

  19. Mike30 macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2013
    Pantographs from color laser printer don't work

    Sorry to keep raining on your parade but you CAN’T make a pantograph on a color laser printer. All colors are made by blending the primaries together (Cyan, Magenta, And Yellow). For example, to make a light green letter you will need a little cyan and a little yellow toner placed on the paper next to each other. The rollers in the back of the printer heat the toner up and kind of melt them together. This turns our light green pixel into a big dot. Because we are trying to put a pixel here and a pixel there to create the pantograph, color printing isn’t an option. Plus light colors on a laser printer are made by opening up the print to let the white of the paper through. For example, try and print a very fine lined font in tan. You almost can’t see it. This is because a lot of white is needed. This is also why the high end inkjet printers come with, Light Cyan, Light Magenta, and even Light Black. (By the way you can’t do this with an inkjet printer because the ink goes into the paper and blurs.) Security paper that is printed in (let’s say) a light blue is made from a light blue ink not a blend of colors. This is why the image is sharp and the pantograph works. One other thing, a lot of copiers don’t copy light colors very well. This also contributes to the success of printing press printed security paper.

    Perhaps, if your boss is ok with the lack of security that this offers, you could make a box in the corner of the page and put your pantograph in it. If you’re using a color printer, back sure it’s made from 100% black. I never tried doing this on a color printer.

    Something else that I need to question about these homemade pantographs is the amount of toner that they must use. Like the entire background of the paper is nothing but a big image (the pantograph) with the text overtop of it. They must be toner hogs. That doesn’t sound very cost effective to me.
  20. ukno09 macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2013
    So, you are saying this pantograph is good for plain white paper?
    That's interesting. Its amazing how such small pixel patterns can turn out white. Thanks for the information!

  21. ukno09 macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2013

    I don't know if you are still replying, but I have a question about the pantograph.
    I have actually tried making one!
    It was pretty amazing, because when I printed it, I could barely see the text that I hid.
    However, when I tried to copy it, the words that I wrote it not come out dark enough, and sometimes, it would copy a blank page.
    Am I doing something wrong? I used to the figures 3 and 5 as you have told me.
    Am I doing something wrong in the SCALE in the 'pattern overlay' in the "blending options?"
    I put figure 3 (background) as 7% and figure 5 as 23%.
  22. Mike30 macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2013
    Making a Pantograph with your laser printer

    Glad to see you’re giving it a try. First I’ve found that you also see the word void that you are trying to hide in the master. It sounds like your just using different levels of black. If so, the problem with that is your patterns are both even. You want the background image to be an even shade or pattern. Then the pattern that’s the fill for the text should be clunky. See fig 15. Figure 13 is the even shade that I’m speaking of. The copier believes the even shade is the tone of the paper and tries to remove it. That leaves the clunky pattern behind. That’s why you don’t want to do a gray level. You can also experiment with your layers. Try putting the background fill above the text layer. Read the patent, it’s almost a step-by-step instructions. You’ll also notice when you read it that they admit it’s not a good security measure and different copiers produce different quality of the pantograph. The bottom of page 4 on the left they even tell you how they need to put the (what I call a cookie cutter pattern) interference pattern on top of everything to help hide the void pattern. I’ve even read about people saying that the master print looks like a copy because the void stands out so much. We have all see laser printers that print lighter with different cartridges and weather conditions.

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