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How to Design Custom Clear Labels

Whispering Willow Soap Co bath products

If you’re looking to take your label game to the next level, you might want to consider going clear. Clear labels can do anything. They practically disappear when adhered to glass, giving your product a highly-coveted “no label” look, and they show off the product inside as well. We all know you have a great product–why not let it speak for itself? 

Setting up your files to print clear labels is a lot easier than you think. Follow these easy tips and you’ll have the sharpest-looking labels on the shelf, like Whispering Willow (above).

Keep It Vector

Vector is always the best file option for printing labels as it guarantees the best print quality. If you’re starting from scratch, ask your designer to whip up your artwork in Adobe Illustrator or other vector-based program and you’ll be starting out on the right foot.

If you already have an existing label design made in Photoshop, fret not! As long as the file is not flattened and the resolution is at least 300 dpi, we can work with it.

Mind Your Font

Using super tiny font is always tricky, but it’s especially challenging on clear labels. We strongly suggest your smallest font be no less than 5 pt, simply so your text is legible. For black fonts, stay away from rich black and instead keep them at 100% black (K) for clean, crisp letters. Avoid white or other light color builds for font unless the label is going to be against a darker surface– the key here is contrast.

Make Those Colors Pop

Our inks are translucent, like a stained-glass window. Therefore, you want to make sure your colors are saturated and at 100% opacity so they don’t get washed out. We don’t recommend lowering color opacity or using gradients on clear materials because they don’t always translate well, but you can always see what these effects look like with a Printed Proof!

We do use spot white on clear labels to give your colors greater definition, but they won’t be completely opaque. Printing on a clear material means that the design will always have a degree of opacity, but adding spot white does provide more solidity to your colors.

Bright and whimsical stickers designed by J.Vieira Raiss for The Sea Mither LLC.

Be Aware of the Container Color

Will your label be going on a clear juice bottle? A frosted glass jar? An amber Boston round? A black candle jar? Clear labels can look great on any of these containers, but it’s important to remember what kind of container you have when designing your labels.

Clear labels tend to get washed out when they are applied to dark, opaque surfaces, like dark amber bottles or solid black jars. For these types of containers, it’s best to keep your design simple, with strongly saturated colors that will stand out against the dark surfaces.

Frosted containers are, of course, more opaque than clear ones, so you have greater contrast. The colors on your label will maintain their integrity better and will be able to pop on frosted containers.

Check out these sweet labels from The Mailroom Barber Co.

Clear Labels with White Text

Nothing beats a simple white design on a clear label. However, when you open this file in an art program, you cannot see what you’ve designed. The temptation might be to make the design elements black instead of white, but try going a step further and make everything 100% magenta. If all your artwork layers are intact (which they really should be) you should name this layer “White Ink”. This will easily clue the artwork team in that you don’t actually want pink.

Any Questions?

Let us help you with your vision! If you have any questions about printing label designs on clear materials, don’t be afraid to reach out. We love brainstorming with makers to help bring to life so many wonderful, creative ideas.

P.S. All labels and products pictured here belong to South Carolina and North Carolina based businesses. Keep it local!

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