Monday, July 16, 2012

Finishing Techniques

These finishing techniques are common not only with business cards, but with anything from book covers, to package design, to even wrapping papers. Each of them make your product appealing in its own way, not to mention the combination possibilities are endless!

Embossing is when a page is pressed between two dies and heat and pressure is applied to the back of the page causing an area of the page to rise.

Blind Embossing/Debossing is when a piece is embossed/debossed but no ink is used to add color.
Blind Embossing

Debossing is the opposite of embossing. The page is pressed between two dies, but instead of pressure to the back of the page, heat and pressure is applied to the front of the page causing an area of the page to recede below the surface of the paper.

Debossing (pattern)
Debossing is not as popular as embossing, but it is commonly used to personalize leather materials. The example above is an example of blind debossing, but regular debossing is the same just with added color.

Letterpress is a technique similar to debossing, where the letters are covered in ink and are pressed into a sheet of paper causing a sort of debossed effect. When done right, letterpress work can be absolutely beautiful. You can also use a letter press without having the debossed effect, just flat text, such as how books used to be printed. I can go on forever about Letterpresses, but this is just the letterpress basics. I'll save going more in depth perhaps in a later blog post.

Thermography is a technique where powder, ink, and high heat are combined to create a raised effect on a page. A powdered polymer and a slow drying ink are applied to a page and the page is exposed to extremely high heat causing the powder and ink to melt. When the ink cools it hardens, thus giving the effect of thermographic printing.


Engraving is a technique where an image is carved into a flat sheet of metal, and that sheet of metal is coated in ink and used to print. This technique, as you may know, is used to print currency (as well as many other high security paperwork), because it is nearly impossible to recreate the great level of detail.

Foil Stamping is a technique where a metallic foil is applied to a page by means of a heated die. Foil Stamping is a little different than the other printing techniques, where you can feel the foil layer on your page, but it doesn't effect the physical dimension on that page like the other techniques. It is, however, often combined with embossing.

Foil Stamping
Die Cutting is a technique where a die is made (similar to a cookie cutter) and is used to knock out a specific shape in a print. It is kind of opposite of the printing techniques mentioned already. Instead of adding color or adding style to the page, die cutting is taking away from the page.

Coating/Varnishes are another way to add a little something to your piece. These are pretty popular when it comes to business cards. You can get anything from UV coating, to dull/aqueous, to matte or silk varnishes. Many exist to add levels of tactile quality - from extremely glosses down to flat matte. You can even to spot coating, which is a coating applied in only the places you want them.

Who would want a boring ol' business card when the finishing techniques truly are endless?

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