special effects

a range of special effects can be incorporated into your print project, some of which may add time or cost to the finished product but when used well, will add value and creative impact

You can choose to add all sorts of special effects to your item; simply add that differentiator to your printed piece or document, from a texture or protective coating to creating a unique shape.

Some combinations work better together than used on their own and often one carefully selected special effect used sparingly will create a better result than when too many extras are added.

lamination and encapsulation

From soft touch film to the more traditional gloss, silk and matt – lamination continues to be an excellent choice for covers and items that need to last a bit longer.  Effectively we melt a thin clear plastic onto the paper or board, on one or both sides.  Encapsulation uses higher temperatures and thicker film – which usually is left with a welded edge to it, so its better suited to areas prone to some moisture.  Ideal for a short run of posters or menus.

Lamination forms the perfect covering for a perfect bound book as it helps add longevity to the document and takes other special effects really well too.


spot and special colours

Unlike four colour Process (CMYK) which we use to print most items; Special colours are made up of just one mixture of pigments – mixed to match almost any corporate colour which are normally specified as Pantone colours (using PMS).  Spot colours are often used to highlight a book or document and a range of metallics and fluorescents are also available.  +C even allows for a double hit of a colour, which intensifies the result significantly.

spot uv varnishes or highlight gloss

There are several ways to add a gloss or matt varnish to highlight or dull an area on a printed page.  UV varnish is effectively a separate silk screen applied process, but our digital press can add a subtle highlight gloss to a page (works really well on plain paper) or you can apply a foil spot varnish on top of a Laminated sheet too.  With great effect.

A range of textured and glittered varnishes are available, or domed resin can be applied to short run products like labels or even ipad surrounds.

die cutting and laser cut to shape

These techniques essentially do the same thing – ie they cut paper to a shape. Die cutting uses a cutting ‘forme’ or tool to punch the shape out (often called a die).  It’s great when the shape is bigger or if the quantity is larger but there are some limitations on how tight corners or complex shapes are approached.

Ram punching is done with much greater amounts of pressure, and is used on things like playing cards where all the components have to be the same shape.  Whilst the Laser is a slower process it cuts the shape out – more useful when the shape is small or intricate, though the ‘burning’ can sometimes leave a residual mark on one side of the material.  Just be warned that not all papers or boards work as well as other.

Kiss cutting just incises the top surface – really useful when producing stickers as it makes peeling off the shape from the backing surface that much easier.

embossing and debossing

Making either type or shapes appear to raise up from below (emboss) or be stamped down (deboss) works really well on good quality softer board stocks – and by introducing foil colours you get foil blocking.  As well as a wide range of standard Gloss colours, Clear and Matt foils are also available – or when there is no foil you get a ‘blond result’ which is particularly effective when used in combination with other finishes.

Really intricate shapes or patterns may require two part dies to be made – which tend to involve more craftsmanship and allow raised and lowered areas to be produced at the same time.

duplexing and triplexing

These methods of layering and gluing together the same weight of paper stock. Put simply Duplex uses just 2 layers and triplex 3 layers. If a contrasting colour is used for the middle layer it can create great visual effect. Its possible to blind emboss and or die cut the top layer to reveal the contrasting colour below.

We have a specialist product that allows relatively small quantities to be produced with multiple layers of colour to be built up, or extra thick sheets created by duplexing, triplexing or even fourplexing.

edge colouring or gilding

This is a very traditional technique for protecting the edge of a book (often seen on Bibles and more traditionally case bound books) as its very good at resisting the ingress of moisture and gives the additional benefit of adding a contrasting or striking colour to the edge of your business card or book which can make for a truly unusual result.

Talk to us about your idea and we’ll do our best to advise on the practicalities of your chosen special effect, and where possible show you samples or help put together budgets so you don’t approach a project with unreasonable expectations.