Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Print Process Workshop Two - Print Techniques.


Embossing and deposing are processes of pressing paper into relief using heat and force. Each of these processes are different and create a different end result. Embossing applies pressure to the back of the stock to create a raised, three dimensional effect. Whereas, debossing has the pressure applied to the front creating an indented look by pushing the material down. Two metal dies are used for this procedure, a raised and a recessed (male/female). The raised die forces the stock into the recessed/counter die to create the impression. In impressing an embossed image through a surface, the image has to be 3 times thicker than the material it's being pushed through. 'Blind embossing' means that no foiling or printing is required and 'foil embossing' is where foil is used in the process.

Choosing a suitable stock for embossing is very important, here are some tips:
  • Embossing on heavier stocks will most often provide greater dimensional depth and detail.
  • Long fiber sheets are the best sheets to emboss because they can handle a wide variety of embossing dies.
  • Generally, stocks most receptive to embossing dies are uncoated, heavier in weight, and have a felt finish
  • Coated, varnish or lightweight stocks may have a tendency to crack when embossed.
  • Embossing with foil instead of ink can assist in eliminating cracking on coated stocks.
  • Lightweight stocks often become brittle and crack if heat is applied to the embossing die.
  • Textured stocks are best for blind embossing.
  • Emboss with the grain of the paper to minimize cracking.
  • Recycled paper can cause the embossing to be inconsistent from sheet to sheet.
  • Recycled papers often become weak and risk cracking when heat is applied to embossing die.

Selecting a die:
  • Refrain from using beveled edge dies when embossing and foil stamping as a combination emboss. The foil will not adhere to the beveled edge
  • Beveled dies are generally brass with the edge of the image being sloped 30 to 50 degrees.
  • Do not use magnesium with beveled dies.
  • Multi-level sculpture dies work best for scorching and blind embossing.
  • Consult a die maker or print supplier before making a final image selection for a die.
  • When deciding upon a die, make sure the die maker knows what kind of stock you plan to use.
  • Finely detailed images are best embossed with a shallow depth.
  • Bold images are best for deeper embossing. 



Foil stamping is a specialty printing process that uses heat, pressure, metal dies and foil film. The foil comes in rolls in a wide assortment of colours, finishes, and optical effects. Foil stamping is somewhat similar to letterpress and engraving, in that the colour is applied to paper with pressure. As a result, the foil process leaves a slightly raised impression on the paper. Once the design is finalized, metal dies are created in the appropriate shape for each color foil to be applied, and for embossing if a three-dimensional effect is desired – most commonly known as blind embossing. The dies are heated and then stamped with enough pressure to seal a thin layer of foil to the paper.

Pros: Foil is an opaque medium. Unlike thermography, lithography and letterpress, foil stamping does not use any ink.  As a result, the foil color does not change based on the color of paper on which you are printing.  This makes metallic or lighter color foil great for darker or colored papers.  Foil can be used for a variety of finishes, including metallic, matte, glossy, pearlescent and patterns such as marbling.  There are also semi-transparent tint foils, if you do want to allow the paper color to show through.

Cons: Because foil is applied by heat, it should not be applied near text or designs already applied by thermography.  The heat will melt the thermographic resins.



Varnish is basically clear ink and can be gloss satin or matte. A flood varnish covers the entire printed page for protection or sheen. A spot varnish allows you to highlight specific areas of a printed space and adds shine and depth to specific elements on the page such as logo or image. Varnishes are also applied on press, but they are heavier bodied and can be applied (like inks) to certain areas (spot varnish). A plate must be created to apply a spot varnish, so artwork is necessary. There is also UV varnishes, the UV stands for ultra violet, the way it is dried. They are available glossy and also mattes and tints.


Die Cutting

Die cutting is a process in manufacturing that cuts uniform shapes from paper, wood, metal and cloth. Die cut machines may be large for industrial purposes, or smaller and less expensive for use by individuals. The die itself is often a blade that has been bent into the desired shape. The blade is secured to a backing and inserted into the machine. When in operation, the die functions much like a cookie cutter, pressing shapes from the material rolling through the machine. Die cut machines may be manually operated or computerised.
Some die cut machines can be programmed to cut whatever shape is desired. The most simple die cut machines, available for a relatively low cost at most craft stores, are simple mechanisms controlled by a roller that presses dies of predetermined shapes into individual sheets of paper. These die machines are often used by scrapbook makers and teachers to create paper designs and patterns.
Industrial-sized die cut machines are made to produce at high volumes and fast speeds. For industrial purposes, die machines can be used to do different tasks--such as bending and trimming--in addition to cutting. Each operation requires a different kind of die. Products produced by dies include keys, kitchen utensils, car parts, buttons, paper products and aluminum cans.


Linen Testers

In this workshop we used linen testers to look at the print methods and quality of different examples we had brought in. I found this quite surprising as I didn't expect as many to have been made from dots, as from a distance it looks like block colour. Here are some examples of looking through the linen tester.

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