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Design considerations for foil stamping

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

Video: Design considerations for foil stamping

When you're planning and designing artwork for a job that involves foil stamping, there are some considerations. When you're using hot foil, it's important to choose the appropriate stock. For example, heavy text and cover paper are going to work the best, and a stock with a smooth finish is really good because you want to maintain that metallic look if you're using a metallic foil. Or if you're using one of the clear foils, again you want a smooth finish. If you try to iron out that stock in order to maintain a smooth finish that's going to require higher pressure. And because the stock is then placed under higher pressure, that's going to cause an impression on the reverse side of the stock.

Design considerations for foil stamping

When you're planning and designing artwork for a job that involves foil stamping, there are some considerations. When you're using hot foil, it's important to choose the appropriate stock. For example, heavy text and cover paper are going to work the best, and a stock with a smooth finish is really good because you want to maintain that metallic look if you're using a metallic foil. Or if you're using one of the clear foils, again you want a smooth finish. If you try to iron out that stock in order to maintain a smooth finish that's going to require higher pressure. And because the stock is then placed under higher pressure, that's going to cause an impression on the reverse side of the stock.

Which may not matter if you're doing this on the cover, but it's something to consider, especially if you're going to use both sides of the stock. You want to avoid trying to apply hot foil to coated or varnished stock, because there's heat involved, gases are given off when that heat is applied to make that foil adhere to the stock, and gases get trapped and cause bubbling. And that would sort of defeat the purpose. You want to have that nice smooth metallic or clear finish. Bubbles are going to mar that finish. And for the same reason, you want to avoid applying foil on top of inks that aren't wax free. And as you're creating your design you have to remember that foil spreads a little bit, it sort of fills in narrow gaps.

And so for that reason you want to avoid fine type and very tiny art details. And when you're creating type you want to provide a little bit of extra space between your letters so track your text out a little bit. And you want to consult the printer and the diemaker, if your'e planning to register foil to printed art, for that same reason. And as far as achieving contrast and contour, metallic and opaque foils look great on dark stock. That's not to say that you can't put them on light stock. But you can make some really interesting effects by applying metallic, or opaque foils such as white foils, on dark stock.

And then on light stock, clear, pastel, or pearlescent foils make for really nice effects. Sort of similar to what you could do with a spot varnish, but with a higher shine. And the pearlescent and pastel foils are almost like using a tinted varnish but with a little bit extra. Now cold foil is different from hot foil, not just in the name, but cold foil is not a separate process. It's not something that's applied after the job is printed, it's something that's actually applied in line on press, and that means that it's easier to register to printing.

It can be over printed, so you can print the cold foil in much the same way as you print in ink, and then come back on top of it with process inks or spot inks. And that means that essentially you can have an endless spectrum of color metallic, it gives you a lot of flexibility. In the past the reflectivity of cold foil wasn't quite that of hot foil, but it's getting better all the time. So if you want to put metallic effect into a piece, but maybe you don't want the expense or the complication of using hot foil, you might consider using cold foil instead.

And you might find that that really serves your needs.

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