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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.
Of course when you're working on any job for print, you should communicate with your printer. But when you're working on a project that involves embossing, you really need to be careful about the way you communicate with your printer or your die maker. There are a lot of details that you need to know when you're preparing your work for this kind of a job. Early on, you should specify whether the embossing is going to be blind embossing, and that means embossing on an area of the job that's not printed. Or whether it's going to need to be registered to print, because that may dictate the material that they use to create the die.
And that may also dictate the kind of artwork you can use in embossing. And of course you should ask how art should be supplied for any embossing project. But especially one that involves embossing and foil stamping on the same area. That's something called a combination die. Always indicate the kind of edge that you want on the embossing. Do you want it to be beveled? Do you want it to be rounded? And you should ask the printer or the die supplier to recommend the most appropriate kind of edge for the kind of art that you're supplying, and also the kind of stock that you're going to be embossing.
You should supply your art at 100%. Ideally, you supply vector artwork, but if you have to supply raster artwork, then make sure that it's high resolution. It should be at least 600 pixels per inch and it should be a bitmap image, not a greyscale image. The bitmap image is just black and white, no shades of grey. Always ask what version of file the printer or die maker prefers. Should it be a native Illustrator file? Would they rather have an EPS? Do they want PDFs or PSDs? And make sure you know which software version they want to use.
For example, if they're using an older version of Illustrator than you are, you need to back save. When you're creating artwork in Illustrator, don't use any masks. No screens, so you can't have any halftone patterns. No compound paths. Try to avoid intersecting lines, and avoid strokes, and other artwork components that are like strokes, that are finer than two points. And it makes sense that you'd want to also avoid extremely small text, anything smaller than 12 points. Or fonts with very, very fine serifs.
Convert your type to outlines, and as you're creating your type, allow a little extra spacing between the lettering. Remember it's going to push that paper up into the die. So you want to increase the spacing so that you can have deeper embossing. And for beveled-edge embossing, the artwork should be slightly fatter than the desired finished size. Because, as that beveling happens, the embossing gives sort of an optical illusion of shrinkage of art. So a rule might seem finer. Or lettering might seem more narrow. So make it a little bit fatter in anticipation of the embossing. Really fine details are going to look better with a shallow emboss. If you're going to emboss large, bold shapes, well, go for deeper embossing. When you're choosing the area of the project that's going to be embossed, leave at least a half of an inch, or one inch or more, between the embossed area and the adjacent folds or trims.
And that's because it might buckle if it's too close to a fold or a trim. You should try to avoid embossing a sheet that's printed on both sides. But if you just have to, remember to keep the text away from the embossed area on the back side. Or it's going to possibly be warped and be unreadable. Just remember, you have to prepare for print anyway, but when you're preparing for something as complex as embossing, you should communicate with your printer and the die maker as early in the project as possible. And they can help you prepare your artwork so that you don't have disappointment later in the project.
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