Sometimes a project needs a little extra something to make it stand out. A few little finishing touches can take a design from good to great. You can choose from a number of creative finishing options, such as varnishes, die cutting and embossing. Although you don’t have to be an engraver to create an embossed piece, it’s helpful to understand a bit about the processes involved as you plan your design.
Varnishes are probably the most popular augmentation. A varnish is a coating that we apply to paper to add shininess and dimension. Varnishes work best on coated papers. You can choose from two types of varnishes: spot and flood. As you might guess from the terms, a spot varnish is applied in “spots” and a flood varnish covers the entire page. Although it is often used just to enhance gloss, varnish can have practical purposes as well. You might ask for flood varnish to seal a printed piece and increase its durability and resistance to scuffing. A spot varnish is a lot like a spot color ink in that you can use it for emphasis. For example, you might specify that we apply spot varnish only to photos or certain areas of a piece to make an image seem to “pop” off the page. We offer varnishes in gloss and matte finishes. The main difference is in the amount of reflectivity. Gloss varnishes make the ink and paper below it more reflective to create a polished or liquid appearance. A matte varnish reduces the shine and makes the paper look somewhat dull or buffed. In fact, you can create beautiful effects using just varnish. For example, we might print a brochure cover in black ink with a matte coating. Then we can overprint a glossy spot varnish of your logo. Or we can do the reverse. The results often are elegant and understated. When you create a design that will be handled a lot and relies on matte varnish, you might want to look at samples because certain matte varnishes are sensitive to scuffing and the oils in people’s fingers. These oils can cause fingerprints on the matte finish.
Die cutting is another finishing option that you might want to look into. With die cutting, we press thin metal strips into the paper much like using a cookie cutter to cut a shape out of dough. We use die cutting to create the pocket flaps for presentation folders, the slots to hold a business card and the holes in door hangers. If you have especially creative needs that don’t involve these types of standard shapes, we might need to make a die for your project. Complex shapes sometimes aren’t practical to cut with dies so please give us a call if you have questions.
Embossing and debossing also involve the use of dies, but these processes add depth. Instead of metal strips, we make the dies from engraved metal. If the image is raised above the rest of the paper, it is embossed. If it is depressed below, it is debossed. Either process involves using two matched dies. We heat one die and press the paper between the two to raise or lower the image. For best results, embossed images should be simple designs, such as logos that avoid the use of any thin lines.
When you are considering finishing options, remember that they might require a little extra time. Be sure to budget that time into your project schedule. These special finishes are worth it!