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Print Production Essentials: Embossing, Foil Stamping, and Die Cutting
Illustration by John Hersey

Design considerations for die cutting


From:

Print Production Essentials: Embossing, Foil Stamping, and Die Cutting

with Claudia McCue

Video: Design considerations for die cutting

When you start to consider using die cutting in a job, it's helpful if you sort of think, like you are creating a stencil and here's why. Here's the kineteco logo, and we were thinking it would really be fun to die cut that, and so the director of marketing said, "let's get this die cut." We pointed out to her that, if we just cut that out, the little centers of the Es and the little counter in the Os are just going to fall out, so that's not going to be satisfactory, might be kind of cute but we're just not crazy about the results. So we struck a compromise, so instead we're just going to die cut the little arcs and then we're going to foil stamp the logo text.

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Print Production Essentials: Embossing, Foil Stamping, and Die Cutting
1h 28m Intermediate Jul 02, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Adding a die cut or emboss to your print job can make a striking visual impact; it's a way of sculpturing and increasing a reader's engagement with your work. Learn about the various types of embossing and die cutting as well as the proper ways to set up your documents to achieve consistent results. Author Claudia McCue covers manufacturing concerns like cost, time, choosing the appropriate paper stock, and file formatting; preparing your artwork for embossing and stamping; and then designing your die-cut project in Adobe Illustrator or InDesign.

Topics include:
  • Understanding how dies are created: hand-engraved, machined, or photo-engraved
  • Preparing files for die-cutting
  • Choosing appropriate stock
  • Creating artwork for single- or multi-level embossing
  • Checking proofs
  • Examining a cutting die
  • Handling a complex bleed
Subjects:
Design Print Production Design Skills
Software:
Illustrator InDesign
Author:
Claudia McCue

Design considerations for die cutting

When you start to consider using die cutting in a job, it's helpful if you sort of think, like you are creating a stencil and here's why. Here's the kineteco logo, and we were thinking it would really be fun to die cut that, and so the director of marketing said, "let's get this die cut." We pointed out to her that, if we just cut that out, the little centers of the Es and the little counter in the Os are just going to fall out, so that's not going to be satisfactory, might be kind of cute but we're just not crazy about the results. So we struck a compromise, so instead we're just going to die cut the little arcs and then we're going to foil stamp the logo text.

We still get something that looks really nice, and we get to maintain the shape of the logo completely and we don't loose the little hearts of the Os and the Es. So you have to think about that mechanical process when you think of creating art for diecutting. And you also want to avoid very fine detail, although if you consider using laser cutting, you can maintain very small detail. But, the limitations of laser cutting are that you can only do one piece at a time. It's great for short runs, it could end up being prohibitively expensive for long runs.

And when you have colors that intersect right at the corner of a die cut then you have to create what's called a beveled bleed. So here where we have the purple background and the little yellow flower meeting right at that little die cut line, we have to change the shape of that artwork so that if there's a little bit of misregister between the printed piece and the die cut then it's not immediately apparent. You also have to consider how the piece is going to be used. Is it going to be mailed? Well, I don't think you want to mail it loose, because it's going to be handled and you don't want it to get torn up.

So of course, you would enclose it in an envelope. Is it a piece that's likely to experience frequent handling? Well, then little sharp pieces that hang out, like the little part of our kinematical logo, that could be problematic. Those are going to to get snagged on something and get bent and mess up our artwork. And if you're considering dye cutting stationary, you can do it, but I would keep a fairly simple edge because you have to consider what's going to happen when it gets pulled into a printer. It could cause a paper jam, or it could sort of wreck your delicate artwork. That's not to say don't use die cutting, but you just have to consider what's going to happen to the piece after it leaves the printing plant. How is it going to be handled? Is it going to be mailed? And you don't want all your nice work to go to waste. So you always design in anticipation of the way that piece is going to be produced and handled.

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