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I was planning to make numerous custom bound journals where I use a piece of transparency film as the protective cover around all my pages and would also be bound with the pages.

Part of my idea was having a black and white image printed on the covers and then a colored transparency over them for a cool coloring effect.

I could not find any pre-colored transparencies that were the correct size; I did managed to find these but my journal size is 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches, or an 8.5 inch by 11 inch sheet of paper folded on the long edge. The material must be flexible enough for me to fold it to this proper size.

I ended up purchasing Computer Grafix brand clear film for inkjet form my local art supply store, with the intention of dying or painting the sheets to color them myself but I’m not exactly sure how to do that.

I want the whole sheet colored, and if I just print on them I know the printer will have a border and not go all the way to the edge.

My other concern is that as mentioned, I plan on making multiple journals, so I need a process that isn't intensive when it comes to making multiples -- I plan on making between 50 and 200 of these. Ideally, if I could avoid extra steps like cutting to size, or deconstructing things to get them to be the shape I want, that would be great. But if there's no way around it I understand.

Do already pre-colored 8.5 inch by 11 inch transparencies exist? If not how do I dye/color the properly sized transparencies I already have?

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There are fabric dyes for synthetic fibers that will work to tint clear transparency film, but it is a messy, time-consuming process. Also, anything you print or paint on the surface is unlikely to hold up to wear and tear.

You can buy colored transparency film in a range of colors. A search on Amazon yields a good range of options. It includes both 8.5x11, and larger sizes that would provide an oversized cover if desired, coverage for a thicker spine, or could be trimmed to size (quickly and easily trimmable with a paper cutter). The colored transparency film is like the clear transparency film in thickness, stiffness, etc.
enter image description here

If you don't mind wasting some of the material, you can buy colored, transparent plastic document folders that can be easily trimmed to size. For example:

https://www.amazon.com/Sooez-Document-Project-Transparent-Assorted/dp/B07T87W72Q/ref=sr_1_7?keywords=transparent+folders&qid=1644782137&sr=8-7

These are thick and stiff enough to serve as document folders (similar purpose and handling as a journal cover), and already pre-folded. They are made of a type of plastic that is a little more flexible than transparency sheets (which are intentionally stiff for easy, one-handed handling on a projector).

enter image description here

Another option would be colored lamination pouches. These are readily available in wallet and badge sizes, but might take a little hunting to find in larger sizes.

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  • I've seen the transparency film used for lights online, and my worry is that the material is too fine (and would crinkle easily) or that what is shown is a large acrylic sheet that's thicker than 2mm, which couldn't bend/fold. Have you used it before? Do you know any brands with the same thickness/strength as a transparency sheet? --- My other goal (which I guess I should edit my question to include) is I'd like to make multiple of these, not just a single one, so the easier to reapeat (no cutting to size, or extra work, etc) the better.
    – Wimateeka
    Feb 13 at 21:21
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    @Wimateeka, I've used the colored transparency film and document folders. They're a good thickness for this purpose. They're much heavier than film that easily crinkles; actually reasonably stiff and hearty, but can be intentionally folded. Over-sized pieces can be quickly trimmed to the needed size with a paper cutter if that's all that is readily available. The colored transparency film is similar to the clear stuff. The folders are more or less a similar thickness, but a little more flexible type of plastic.
    – fixer1234
    Feb 13 at 21:57
  • @Wimateeka you'll need to make sure you watch your search terms. You're looking for (overhead) transparency sheets, and you'll want to avoid "cellophane sheets" (gift wrap) and "gels" (theatrical lighting sheets).
    – Allison C
    Feb 14 at 16:58
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Reading the answer and comments I'd like to point out what probably won't work and why.

transparent inkjet sheets are coated with a rubbery substance that can absorb the printer ink. This coating will also absorb any moisture it comes in contact with, like the natural sweat and oils on your fingers. And since our fingers naturally come in contact with all kinds of dust, oily foods and other dirty things, that'll stain the edges that are touched while leafing through the journal.

The rubbery coat isn't permanent either. You can rub it off with some force. Depending on the material you bought, the printing may be damaged sooner or later. You can try mitigating that by laminating the finished print in a very thin plastic layer. If that works but you're bothered by the border the printer cannot print, think about leaving an intentional border around the color sheet and the underlying image.

The clear film for laser printers would probably be sturdier and more heat resistent, but I have no personal experience with it.

Color film for theater lights (aka "color gel") is relatively thin and flexible, but many brands do have an expiration date! After that date, the film may become brittle and the thin layer of color can start cracking and peeling off the carrier film. I've seen this in person and tried finding images of old color filters, but was drowned in shopping ads and polished finger nails.

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