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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.
So, here are some things to think about as you contemplate using foil stamping in a project. Coated stock is usually okay, foil stamping works very well on coated stock, it gives it a nice smooth surface. But varnishes can present a problem. And that's because they can keep trapped gases from getting out. And that means that you might see bubbling under your foil, and you don't want that. You don't want those ugly bubbles marring that nice, smooth surface. There's heat and pressure involved in applying hot foil, and sometimes that can cause color changes on the stock, especially yellow or brown stock.
Darker stocks tend to cause a little bit of color change. Some foils can change color too, slightly after application. Don't expect to find hot foils in every Pantone color, but there is a huge range. The most efficient way to use foil stamping is to foil isolated areas, you know a medallion on the cover or a logo on the back cover, something like that. Now there are some systems that can do what's called indexing, and that means hat they can optimize the foil usage and they can reposition so that the foil can be used in the most efficient manner. But for example, doing something like just foiling the border around a large area, essentially that wastes the foil inside.
Again, there's a possibility that they can index, that they can use that foil for another purpose, but you may find that this is going to really add to the cost of the job. If you have your heart set on having something like a metallic border around, let's say a poster, you might think about instead of using hot foil, use cold foil. And cold foil, in essence, means you apply an adhesive on press in much the same way you apply an ink, and then the foil is adhered to that. As far as holding sharp details, you're going to find that metallic foils are a little bit sharper than pigmented foils such as the opaque white foils or pastel foils.
If you're checking a proof keep in mind that there may be a fee for proofing a foil stamping job. You're looking for problems like this: feathering, it's like a little skirt around letters and other art details, color changes, has the stock changed color? Has the foil itself changed color? Because of the heat and pressure involved. Is there scuffing as the pieces fall together? Is the foil starting to come back off? Is the foil cracking, wherein it should be adhering to the surface of the stock? Is it peeling off? It's not sticking to the area it's supposed to stick to.
Are you getting the adequate pigment strength? Is it the color that you expected? And of course you're always looking at the edge definition. Keep in mind, of course, like any aspect of printing, this is a physical process and you're sort of at the mercy of the way a particular foil behaves on a particular stock when you're trying to create a particular piece of artwork. But planning ahead and learning what the limitations are ensures that you and your foil stamper are going to be happy about the results.
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