Embossing and Foil Stamping The Sexy bits - Off press finishing

The french have a phrase "je ne sais quoi" roughly translated means an indefinable or elusive quality, particularly a pleasing one.

...take an ordinary print and make is extraordinary...

Some of the most exciting things that can happen to a print project take place away from the press. Off-press finishing techniques including die cutting, laminating, embossing and foil stamping add a tactile quality that printing alone can't produce.

This beautifully elegant packaging project -custom designed and custom made for Jamie Joseph jewelry- incorporates Foil stamping, registered emboss, die cutting, and final assembly.
Combining foil with registered emboss gives the splash of gold incredible visual impact, as it rises up from the page.

These processes produce stunning, eye-catching, highly tactile projects. They add 'that certain something, somethin,' the undefinable element which is the hallmark of all great design. It's elusive, and you can't quite put your finger on exactly what it is but you know it's perfect... "je ne sais quoi"....


Embossing has a physical, multi-dimensional quality that imparts a sense of luxury, a look of permanence, authority and wealth. Pretty impressive really....

Both embossing and debossing rely on dies and pressure to shape the paper.

.005 depth / shallow emboss

.025 Depth / Deeper Emboss

Brass Die

Example of a registered, debossed print

Blind Emboss print that shows the imprint on the reverse side of the paper.

Brass Die used to create a sculpted emboss

Sculpted Dude's embossed head

Counter Die

Couple of things to be aware of when design a project that will use embossing or debossing

Blind embossing costs less than registered embossing
Make sure that the image is wide enough for the paper to be forced into the die set
Deep embossing dies have beveled edges that will reduce the width of letter forms - adjust artwork and text to be slightly thicker to accommodate
Dies are not made by the printers, they are expensive and will require additional time to be allocated to allow for the extended lead time
Discuss with your printer which paper stock will best accommodate your job - soft, thick paper like linen or felt are usually ideal
Foil Stamping

Metallic Foils carry a connotation of luxury, and sophistication, plus everybody likes shiny things... not just raccoons.

You’ll often see gold, silver, or other metallic inks used on stationery, invitations, and a variety other printed materials. While they look nice, they can lack that luster and richness that you can achieve by using foil stamping.

Another great thing about foil stamping is that you’re not limited to just metallic effects. You can find anything from gloss to dull, colors and fluorescent, holographic – there’s even clear! pretty impressive....

foil stamping can be used to make an ordinary object extraordinary

HOw do they do it? Easy. A foil carried by a polyester film is placed between a heated die and the paper. When the die presses against the film, the heat releases the foil coat from the carrier and binds it to the surface of the paper

Different foils, stamped by two different dies, can create an image that jumps from the paper

Not what I would pick to wear... but it is eye catching.

Top Die

Very MTV circa 1983... the foil stamping really brings it home.

Bottom Die

Although the color is the same, a dull foil with a debossed pattern creates a different effect than a gloss foil with an embossed pattern.

Brass Die
Counter Die

This is an example of "stamp and bump" - where the image is first flat stamped with a foil and then in a second pass the image is embossed or debossed

Micro-embossed foil creates a more true-to-life look than simply printing on embossed paper

Brass Microemboss Die
Counter Microemboss Die
Top Brass Die
Bottom Brass Die

Couple of things to be aware of when design a project that will use foil stamping

Lead time depending on the type of foil used can be as long as 2 months
Line art is a must when working with Foil stamping - there needs to be enough area for the foil to grab onto
Foil stamped text can be harder to read - special attention needs to be paid to kerning and leading of text to ensure that they are not to tight
Hologram films is best viewed under a single light source
Make sure that the inks and foils are compatible - working with an experienced printer during the early stages of design is a good idea


"Foil Stamping - Ed #6 Embossing / Foil Stamping - Ed Lives ..." Insert Name of Site in Italics. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2017 <https://edliveshere.com/content/embossing_foil_stamping/9/foil_stamping>.

"Commercial Printing: A Debossing and Embossing Primer ..." Insert Name of Site in Italics. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2017 <http://www.printindustry.com/blog/?p=7442>.

Created By
Heidi Titus


Created with images by Joelstuff V4 - "fluffyexplosion"

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