The Finishing School

Specialist decorative print finishing hacks – designers Q&A

How to print embossed text or how to print raised lettering

If you wish to produce a raised text effect then you need to print the item and ask for embossing as a post print process. You need to make a solid black layer in your file that’s set to over print, showing where you want the emboss.

The solid black layer will be used to make an embossing die, this will be used to create the emboss, using the same process as foiling, but without the foil.

You can also create what’s known as a blind emboss, this is where there is no printed text and you just submit a black layer, the finished result is the lettering shown purely with an emboss which creates a elegant effect, this is often used with high end papers.

How to make paper glow in the dark

It is possible to make a printed item with areas that glow in the dark. Celloglas offers a screen applied process that is applied after an item is printed. Simply supply a solid black area, set to over print showing where you wish the glow in the dark coating to be applied.

Glow in the dark printing is also known as phosphorescent, fluorescence, phosphorescence, or luminous coating.

Phosphorescent inks contain optically active pigments, which absorb light energy from any light source and then re-emits it as light – meaning the printed area will literally ‘Glow in the Dark’. (The emission time is directly dependant on the previous exposure time.) The standard colour is yellow/green – but Blue/green is also available on special order.

Phosphorescent pigments have very poor covering power and will not print evenly over other inks, it is therefore recommended that they are applied directly onto the unprinted (but sealed if possible) plain white substrate and that the phosphorescent image areas are always reversed out.

What is photochromic used for?

Photochromic ink or coating is a post print process (applied after printing) the coated areas change colour when exposed to UV light. A popular colour change is off white to bright purple, but other colours are available.

Photochomic ink is used to add creative interaction on brochure and magazine covers and can also be used on social stationary, packaging or any commercial print. Photochomic ink is not suitable for uncoated stocks.

What is thermochromic ink?

Thermochromic ink is applied using a screen process. The ink comes in a standard black colour and becomes translucent when heat is applied, revealing the print underneath.

Thermochromic ink or heat and reveal is often used for promotional print and has been used to hide the answers in a quiz book.

The thermochomic ink becomes translucent when warmed and then returns back to black as it cools down.

The traditional way to warm print with thermochomic is to rub it with your fingers, but dependent on coverage area there are more creative ways i.e. sit a warm cup of tea on top, place your whole hand on it, use a hair dryer etc.

It is recommended to laminate the print after thermochromic is applied, just to protect the coating.

To specify the area for thermochomic ink supply a solid black area in your print file, set to overprint.

What is glitter varnish used for in printing?

Glitter varnish is used to add a glitter effect to select areas of print. It is a UV varnish that is screen applied with glitter particles inside.

Glitter varnish, also known as sparkle varnish is often used on greetings cards, seasonal print campaigns, magazine covers, children’s books and brochures.

Glitter varnish is especially popular for Christmas related print campaigns, and often appears on Christmas cards, menu’s, promotional print and multimedia packaging.

The area that requires glitter varnish should be supplied as a solid black area. 

Can I combine foil and laminate?

Yes, the simplest way is to foil block the sheet before the laminate is applied, but it is often possible to foil onto the laminate. It’s best to talk to the foiling manager at Celloglas and they will recommend the best way forward depending on the foil colour and laminate type chosen.

When using gold foil and gloss laminate, gold foil can not be applied on top of gloss laminate, it must go underneath, silver works fine on top of gloss.

You can apply foil onto matt and Cellotouch laminate, wet lamination provides the best result, results vary with the colour of foil and there are ways to make a foil adhere to the laminate, your foiling contact can advise further.

Can I apply white foil?

Yes, white foil is often applied as a contrasting colour when using a metallic or strong coloured substrate.

What is spot UV in printing?

Spot UV is a term for spot varnish that is dried using UV lights. Spot UV is commonly gloss, but can also be matt. Spot UV highlights areas of a design.

How to print gold on paper?

Basically, you can’t produce a real metallic gold out of 4 colour process. You can print metallic shades using Pantone colours or you can create a metallic effect by foiling areas after the item is printed. Another way to produce a gold metallic effect is to print a shade of yellow onto Mirri board, a metallic substrate.

How do I supply files for finishing?

It is best to ask your printer how to supply the files. It is commonly required to supply a solid black area set to overprint. Your printer will apply the 1 up file to fit the finishing across the sheet, i.e. repeat the finishing layer across the sheet to 2 up or 4 up depending on what is required. Lamination doesn’t require any files.