I draw comics, and for part of my workflow, I print software-modified "pencils" in light blue onto the paper, then draw the final inks over that. The blue layer doesn't show up in scans or photocopies. This process works pretty well for me, but details of the lineart often get blurred together, and the printer often refuses to print because the three unused color cartridges have dried up. The printer I normally use just broke, so I'm hoping to replace it with something better for this use.

Ideally I would use monochrome printing with cyan ink, but I haven't found any off-the-shelf options. I was thinking of just buying a black-only inkjet printer, using up the black ink and refilling the cartridge with cyan, but I don't know how well that would work. If the black ink never gets fully washed out, the printed lines would show up in scans of the final product.

If anyone has experience with this or similar problems, I'd appreciate hearing about it.

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    Welcome to Arts & Crafts. Your objective is part of a workflow for arts & crafts, but the specific question is really about how to accomplish something on a computer printer. There are some people on this site who could weigh in, but the question isn't actually on-topic for this site. The ideal site would be Super User, which routinely fields similar questions (it could well already have answers to this one). That's also where there's a concentration of subject matter experts. You might want to ask a moderator to migrate this one for you.
    – fixer1234
    Jan 31, 2022 at 22:32
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    I’m voting to close this question because it's off-topic for the site. Suggest migration to Super User. Just a heads up, it would be received better by that audience if the question is more tightly focused to remove any extraneous context and background information not critical to the actual question. Good luck with this.
    – fixer1234
    Jan 31, 2022 at 23:44
  • There are, or used to be, printers with continuous ink systems. One of those and some customised plumbing would do the trick. From new it wouldn't be contaminated with black, but from old you could rinse it through (probably with isopropanol+water) to wash out the residual black
    – Chris H
    Feb 1, 2022 at 10:27
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    @Elmy on my old Epson I reckon I could, using compatible cartridges, take the cyan (or even light cyan) cartridge and fit the chip off a black cartridge. It will refuse to print without ink in all cartridges, unfortunately. Better would be something really old but for which compatible cartridges are still available (really old like me, who can remember things like dot-matrix printers with one-colour ribbons, and B&W inkjets)
    – Chris H
    Feb 1, 2022 at 13:23
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    @Joachim I think lifehacks is the better place for this question. And thanks everyone for all the suggestions in the comments!
    – timeskull
    Feb 1, 2022 at 15:58

1 Answer 1


Non-repro blue lifehack:

I'm told that nothing is impossible if you can get someone else to do it.
Based on your experience, you have already discovered that you can use blue-only prints to use as non-reproducible/non-scanable/drop-out guidelines for your manual print production technique.
That's great (IMHO)
I called an ink cartridge refill business near me and asked if cyan ("printer's blue") ink could be put into a monochrome printer instead of black.
"Yes, sure.
"Is it true that some printers are more easily filled than others?
"If I bought a new printer from you, would you "Cyanitize" it for me?
"Yes, sure.

Based on the above exhaustive research:

  1. Find a local ink/toner refill company
  2. Get their recommendation for the most compatible monochrome printer to modify for your application
  3. Negotiate a contract for the materials and modification
  4. Purchase the equipment

Here are some things to consider: Toner or ink? Infrequent use of an ink printer is problematic. Toner may not give you the desired tint. Can you buy only one colour from a matched (4C - Process colour) set? If it doesn't give you the desired tint, can it be screened by software enough to "drop-out" during scanning as desired? You might have to "play" with different variables, settings, brands, etc. to get it right.

Some good news is that a used laser printer need not be 'cleaned' out as each use removes any excess toner. By that reasoning, you 'could' swap a stock cartridge for a modified one as required.

Good luck.

  • Thanks, this hadn't occurred to me. It's a bit ironic I needed to turn to lifehacks for the advice "purchase goods and services from an established vendor", but it is good advice!
    – timeskull
    Feb 4, 2022 at 15:35

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