Embossing & Debossing

Embossing, debossing and letterpress all involve the indentation of a die onto the paper stock. Embossing creates a raised relief, whereas debossing and letterpress creates a cavity. The difference between debossing and letterpress is the use of ink. Blind Debossing refers to the lack of ink to create a subtle indentation in the paper, whereas letterpress printing is applied with ink. The letterpress indentation was originally a side effect from the printing process, but it is now a sought after style. Blind Embossing and Blind Debossing are also commonly combined with foils to really draw attention to the image.

How To Prepare Your Print Artwork

While all the special print effects result in different finishes, the process of identifying these areas in your designs is the same. All print effects are applied by the printer, so your computer based artwork won’t accurately depict the final result. You will need imagination and good communication with your chosen print company to ensure your prints return with the expected result!

Designate the special finish areas

As the designer, you’re in charge of identifying which areas of your design should have a special finish applied. The ‘less is more’ rule is definitely true with special effects. Copy and paste elements onto a new layer, or create additional artwork that will only be applied using a varnish or die onto this separate layer.

Create an identifiable spot color

The special areas in your design need to stand out to the printer, so creating a special spot colour swatch will separate these items from the rest of your artwork. In Illustrator or InDesign create a new swatch from the Swatches panel. Give it a descriptive name and change the type to Spot Color, then make the colour 100% Magenta or 100% Black so it clearly stands out in your design.

Set the elements to Overprint

To avoid the special finish elements knocking out the other print plates the elements must be set to Overprint via the Window > Attributes window. This is crucial for spot varnishes that are meant to highlight underlying areas of the design, otherwise the varnish would be applied directly onto the paper.

Save your print file

Save your document as a PDF, or package the document in the case of InDesign. You can use Adobe Acrobat’s Output Preview mode to see how the artwork is separated into the different plates and how your special spot colour is clearly listed in the separations list.

Have a Printing design that includes Embossing or Debossing that needs to go from concept to reality? Get in touch with a Hotspot Printing & Packaging specialist today!  You can call us, 310-538-2540, or submit a quote online.

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