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Posts Tagged ‘Finish’

Creative Process A to Z: Follow FIDM Graphic Design Student, Peter Deltondo through a Class Project from Start to Finish

In this special three-part series, FIDMDigitalArts.com asked Peter Deltondo, a current student at FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, to talk first-hand about his experience… read more »
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Substrates & Finish :: 2 of 3 :: Gorgeous Print Finishes

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As varied as they are exciting, print finishes encompass a wide range of processes for designers to investigate and use. A finish may be applied once a substrate has been printed, to provide the finishing touch to a graphic object. They can be used to add a decorative aspect to a piece, or a textural quality. In some cases a finish might aid graphical function, or even represent an integral component of a piece’s form. Seven print finishes have been chosen for this article based on their powers to captivate, dazzle and add weight to ideas. Read on, take notes, and choose one for your next project to turn a mere good response into a graphical tour-de-force…



Author: Bradley Hotson for The Graphic Design School
We offer vocational training graphic design courses. Delivery is online, affordable and open to students all over the world to study in the comfort of their own home.


Debossing & Embossing

Debossing and embossing are the processes whereby an element of a design is stamped into the substrate with ink or foil, giving printed medium a 3-dimensional, textural quality. Debossing occurs when the design has been pressed into the surface of the substrate, producing a recessed effect on the page. Embossing yields the opposite result; a raised design component on the printed object. Great impact can be achieved through an emboss or deboss, especially when combined with a striking foil or special colour. In aiming to communicate a more subtle effect, designers might also want to consider blind debossing and embossing. The processes are identical, save the fact that no ink or foil is used (see below right).

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(L>R): A subtle deboss combined with what appears to be a white spot varnish. Image courtesy of © SeptemberIndustry; Debossed gold card. The emboss was achieved by operating a “curious industrial machine with a ‘single button”, explains © Kariann Burleson.

Foil Blocking

Few finishes can rival foil blocking for sheer razzle-dazzle. The process (also interchangeably known as foil stamp, heat stamp, hot stamp, block print and foil emboss) is achieved by pressing coloured foil onto a substrate with a heated die, which causes the foil to separate from its backing. Foil blocking can be used to great decorative and memorable effect. It is also versatile, and may be used to signify an array of signs and meanings, such as luxury, futuristic-ness, modernism and metallic-ness.

FOIL.jpg

London-based graphic design studio North are famous for not having a website. They instead show a single page of logotypes they have designed, which segue randomly from grey to colour in a delicate array of cadences. Shown above is a striking foil-blocked rendering of the same concept. Image courtesy of © SeptemberIndustry.

Die Cutting

With die cutting, a steel die is used to cut out a defined area of a design. This finish is often used with decorative intentions, and can create pleasing results on printed pieces, which resonate with recipients. Many printers stock a range of popular dies like circles and radiussed-cornered ingots, but you can also have them designed to your own specifications. Die cutting may also be used creatively as a functional element of the overall design; apertures in the covers of printed material allowing show-through to the content within being a good example.

DIE-CUT_COMBINED.jpg

From the simple to the complex. (i). Many printers stock a range of circular dies due to high demand for them. Their popularity does nothing to diminish the impact a well-designed circular die cut business card can make. (ii). This coaster was letterpress-printed and die cut in the shape of the state of Ohio. Images courtesy of (from L>R) © Malota and © Cranky Pressman. “Don’t Lose Heart” coaster designed by © Mikey Burton.

Varnishes

In addition to the practical uses varnishes offer, such as protecting substrates from smudging and wear (their primary purpose), the different types available can also be used decoratively by graphic designers to embellish printed material. As with foil blocking, different messages can be communicated through different uses of this finish, though having stated this, it should be added that this is perhaps natural, given the wide selection of varnishes available. Gloss, matt and satin are all commonly used and explain themselves. Two lustrous varnishes which merit a line or two of their own are

  • PEARLESCENT
    Pearlescent varnish, when used, delicately reflects a whole gamut of colours, giving a subtle, luxurious effect
  • SPOT UV
    Perhaps the most “designery” of the varnishes available, spot UV can be applied discretely to areas of a printed page so that when turned toward the light, these areas become highlighted
VARNISH_COMBINED.jpg

Devilishly versatile, and there to lend weight to the meanings you wish to communicate, from muted and delicate to glossy and whorish. (from L>R) images supplied by © Kariann Burleson and © SeptemberIndustry.

Deckled Edge

Perhaps not strictly a print finish, as a deckled edge on a paper stock will either be present when selecting a substrate or not, a deckled edge is nevertheless a visually arresting design component when used cleverly and appropriately. The name refers to paper that has a soft, raggedy edge to it. There are two types of deckles; natural and tear. Natural deckles occur (obviously enough) naturally at the point the paper is made. During paper manufacture, the slurry of wood pulp fibres which make up the paper are drained of water, and what is left sits atop a screen in a frame called a deckle, and it’s this frame that causes the uneven edge of paper made in this way. Tear deckles are achieved on purpose, by tearing, after the paper has been made.

Deckled edge paper seems to connote integrity and hand-craftedness. More often than not natural, they betray the very old and esteemed origins of the process used to create them. It’s perhaps no surprise that deckled edge papers are popular with letterpress printers and bookbinders all over the world.

DECKLE_COMBINED_NEW.jpg

(L>R): Charming letterpress-printed book by © Webb & Webb; Intriguing business card by Koichi Sato using a blind impression on the printing press. Both pieces are printed on deckle-edged paper. Koichi Sato image courtesy of © Kariann Burleson.

Perforation

Perforation is a process that generates rows of small holes through a substrate which weaken it along their axis and make tearing easy. Often used for practical purposes like tearing sections off forms, in recent years graphic designers have awoken to the tactile potential of perforation and began to introduce them into their designs. The process is there to serve a single, obvious function; for the paper to be torn apart or open, and this seductive proposition means the human compulsion to interact with perforations is always in attendance.

Shown below are pictures from “Drentse Bodemweek 2008″, a book designed for a Dutch environmental convention by Jelmar Geertsma of Netherlands-based design studio Typehigh and illustrator Lieslot Moed at Art Academy Minerva. The book is bound French-folded with illustrations to the insides of the pages and perforations running down their edges, inviting readers to tear them open and reveal the imagery within.

PERFORATION_NEW.jpg

Few print finishes get recipients interacting with printed medium more than perforation does. It’s the curiosity-barren person who doesn’t experience the desire to tear. Images supplied by © Typehigh, designed in collaboration with Lieselot Moed.

Special Colours

Most full-colour printing is achieved through the four-colour CMYK process, and while myriad colours can be reproduced using this method, CMYK cannot cover everything, and sometimes more striking results can be achieved through the use of a spot (or special) colour. A spot colour is a specially made ink all of its own, and usually requires its own plate when passing on press. During printing, the special colour is not mixed with any of the other inks, hence its dense, flat quality. Fluorescent colours are special, as are metallics, both unachievable through the four-colour process. The vibrancy attainable through the use of special colours need not be stated.

SPECIAL COLOUR.jpg

Additional special “spot” colours can be added to the four-colour CMYK process at any pass on press. Eye-catching effects can be achieved through the use of carefully chosen special colours. Image supplied by © SeptemberIndustry.

In Sum

The print finishes outlined above, and more besides, are all at the creative’s disposal for adding a special final touch to a project; the graphic designer’s icing on the cake, if you will. As with substrates, finishes can be used to enhance messages and communicate meanings to audiences. Whilst typically carried out at the end of the production process, for best success print finishes should not be applied to a project merely as an afterthought, but built in to the design from the start.

Practical factors such as costs, budgets and print runs are ever-present in the designer’s life, and it can take some hefty persuasion to convince a client of the benefits of spending funds on a brilliant finish, a task compounded by global recession. However, with such a dazzling array of finishes there to be used, it has to be worth a try now and again, surely? Many of the projects photographed included in this article were printed in the past two years, so we can infer that some clients are budgeting for lavish print finishes. Given this, would it be overly optimistic of me to cry: “Profligacy is dead. Long live profligacy!”?

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The words above may be a strapline for UK-based graphic design studio Golden, but they might equally apply to us creatives who tirelessly strive to explore the bounds of print finishes! Image supplied by © SeptemberIndustry.


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Substrates & Finish :: 3 of 3 :: Seven Sumptuous Substrates

Coloured Paper - Keiran Mills_SQUARE.jpg

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a graphic designer is the sheer scale of gorgeous and tactile materials to work with and print on. There are dozens at your disposal, some in common usage and others waiting to be discovered and put to graphical use by future pioneers. Because of their widely diverse nature, substrates can be used to suggest all kinds of meanings and signify all kinds of signs, from luxury and good taste right through to anarchy and roughness. Substrates help to reinforce the messages you wish to communicate. I’ve hand-picked seven of them for the last in our unashamedly image-teeming short series of articles on substrates and finish. So without further ado…



Author: Bradley Hotson for The Graphic Design School
We offer vocational training graphic design courses. Delivery is online, affordable and open to students all over the world to study in the comfort of their own home.


Greyboard

Primarily used for inconspicuous packaging material, graphic designers have been turning to greyboard as a substrate on which to print for some time now, in a table-turning celebration of its rough-edged qualities. Despite its unglamorous origins (it is produced from waste paper) greyboard has a tactile quality which feels satisfying in the hands. High contrasts between coarseness and precision may be achieved by combining this gravelly favourite with a lavish printing finish such as foil-blocking (see images below).

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Greyboard postcards with cyan foil printed on front, black foil on reverse for artist-led organisation Interval. Designed by © Graham Jones.

PVC

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a cheap, durable and easy-to-assemble material often used for signage and report covers. Type and imagery can be transferred onto PVC through screen printing, die-cutting and transfers. Widely produced in myriad colours and weights, PVC is an appealing substrate which graphic designers should (and do) take advantage of to produce objects most often printed on more predictable stocks. The results can be dramatic and unpredictable, turning easily-forgotten or disposable printed matter, like invitations and business cards, into memorable objects of permanence.

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These business cards were printed on a translucent PVC substrate which is refreshing and unexpected. The black and silver inks used lend them an expensive feel. From © Pinkograf.

Fabric

The use of fabric for graphic design purposes has obvious uses when one considers clothing label clients and the like, but can also be used to suggest any number of meanings, as the various fabrics themselves do. Tweed has become a symbol of the countryside, and silk connotes expensiveness. Fabrics can be screen printed and hand-drawn onto. They lend actual weight to objects and are inevitably tactile.

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To suggest “vibrant modernity as well as solid City tradition” in a piece designed for investment bank Lehman Brothers, London-based graphic design studio The Design Conspiracy produced 5 handmade pin stripe boxes, with material sourced from Savile Row. When the box was opened it revealed an explosion of bright colours.

Translucent Stock

Transparency and translucence have an intrinsically enchanting value that children are fascinated by and graphic designers have been clever to exploit. Thin stocks are often susceptible to showthrough, which is generally seen as a defect, but transparency may also be used by designers deliberately and creatively to great effect. With translucent objects compositions change depending on what happens to be beneath the stock.

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Striking posters designed for a series of talks held by LongLunch. Printed on Transcolour Leaf and Transcolour Red Roses, both by GF Smith. Image used with kind permission of © Proud Creative.

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Specialist East Yorkshire-based paper merchants GF Smith offer customers a tremendous selection of tactile and unusual substrates.

Newsprint

Composed of mechanically-ground wood pulp, newsprint has a short lifespan and is cheap to produce, hence its principal use for newspapers and comic books. Perhaps due to its cheap and ephemeral nature however, graphic designers sometimes use it as a substrate on which to print work of high caliber, which might arguably be better suited to a stock offering more longevity or a higher quality finish. This knowingly perverse design decision can add novelty to a project; to view a publication with high design standards printed on newsprint can be a bemusingly pleasurable experience.

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The cheap and ephemeral nature of newsprint hasn’t stopped many designers choosing it as a substrate on which to print great work. Image supplied by © Jennifer Daniel.

Flock

If ever there was a substrate candidate intended to add a tactile quality to printed material it must be flock. Flock was originally intended to simulate tapestry and Italian velvet brocade. These days, designers use it to add a decorative, tactile and luxurious feel to printed materials. As with fabrics, flock naturally recommends itself to projects for clients such as clothing companies and textiles merchants, and its luxurious, almost baroque, character makes it ideally suited to wedding materials. The robust nature of flock means it can be embossed, debossed and foil-blocked.

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For those intending their project to connote luxury teetering on the decadent, few substrates can match flock. Image used with permission of © CraftyKat.

Astrolux Mirror Board

Astrolux is a highly reflective, high-gloss card available in a wide range of colours. When combined with embossing, the results can be beautiful. Luxury, again, is a look which can be achieved, especially when hues of gold or silver are used, although astrolux board offers a more contemporary and less traditional experience than, say, flock does. Precision, seriousness, fun (think grown-up tinsel and baubles) and cool futuristicness are all values attainable with the versatile astrolux board.

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Why limit yourself to one intriguing substrate? To evoke the feeling of opening a tin for his ‘Pilchards’ project book arts enthusiast Simon Goode has used astrolux mirror board, kraft, tracing and graph papers in an audacious blend of materials.

Top Tips

  • Choose a substrate which can ‘take’ a printed design and is appropriate for your intended message
  • Research the substrates available from paper mills and specialist suppliers
  • Familiarize yourself with the costs of materials. Prices of substrates can fluctuate, and it pays to keep your knowledge topped up.
  • If you’re sure of a particular substrate’s powers to connote luxury/spontaneity/hand-craftedness (delete as appropriate) but are worried about costs, obtain printers’ quotes on both standard stock and your special choice. Present both to your client and argue your case.

In Sum

Choosing a substrate is an integral part of the design process, and should be carried out at the start of each project. Luckily for creatives, the number of substrates available to us is now greater than ever before, giving us unprecedented choice over the materials we select for our jobs. Few other elements of the design process work so hard at buttressing, connoting and amplifying the messages we communicate, or so persuasively at cajoling our audiences into “feeling” these messages. The death of print has been heralded regularly for a decade now, and whilst evidently an overblown claim, designers must continue to do all they can to explore, fathom and utilize the frontiers of the Printed Object. In this unprecedented era of glorious substrates, you’ll be in with a head start.

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If a surface will take a printed impression, it’s fair game! Image used with kind permission of © Dave Kirby.


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Substrates & Finish, Article 1 of 3 :: Diverse Binding Methods

SUBSTRATES & FINISH: 7 DIVERSE BINDING METHODS

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Binding, the collective term given for the range of processes which hold and fasten a publication’s pages together, is essential for, well, holding and fastening your publications’ pages together. Whilst on the surface not as compelling a design component as, say, print finishes, a little closer inspection reveals a range of distinct processes which exist for different uses. These binding methods aid function; decisions on binding necessarily affect a printed piece’s robustness, longevity and form. Used creatively, they can even add an aesthetic finishing touch to a piece and help amplify messages and intentions. The closer inspection I mention above, and which binding merits, is what this article’s all about.

Author: Bradley Hotson for The Graphic Design School The Graphic Design School offers vocational training graphic design courses. Delivery is online, affordable and open to students all over the world to study in the comfort of their own home.

SUBSTRATES & FINISH, ARTICLE 1 OF 3: Diverse Binding Methods

Case Binding

Also known as edition binding, case binding is often used in the binding of hardback books, owing to the sturdy, robust qualities inherent in its process. As with perfect binding, pages are gathered and folded into sections, or signatures. These are then sewn together, the spine glued and the book block pressed and trimmed. Covers are prepared with buckram or other hardy material and, once dried, the book block is ‘cased in’ to the covers. If we rewind a few steps to just before the book block is glued and pressed, designers can embellish their books by specifying coloured headbands and ribbon bookmarks to creative effect (see images below).

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A commission for four A3-sized, quarter-bound case bindings from London-based bookbinder © Simon Goode.

Japanese or Stab Stitch Binding

Interchangeably known as Japanese, stab and traditional Chinese binding, pages are here sewn together with a single, continuous thread. There are many variations, far too many to cover here, but in recent years Western designers have helped bring some of them back into people’s consciousness. Gift and children’s books are often to be found stab stitch bound, and increasingly design-conscious clients like Onitsuka Tiger, who produced a superb stab stitch-bound 2004–05 trade brochure (an image of which your normally resourceful writer was, alas, unable to obtain) are turning to the process. Best used to bind publications on the thinner side and when wishing to add a tactile dimension to a publication’s design, the effect can look pleasingly delicate, yet is a robust enough binding method.

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A stab stitch-bound notebook and journal, both of which demonstrate the, by turns, innocent and intricate qualities of the method. Images courtesy of © Ruth Bleakley and © Michelle Clement.

Z-binds

The z-bind, so-called because of the distinctive ‘Z’ shape a z-bound piece forms when viewed from above, is a visually arresting method of binding two publications (or two parts of a single publication) together into one. This can be achieved either with permanence in mind by stitching the two together end-to-end, or as a temporary device, through the use of an elastic band or perforation. Lots of interactivity or ‘relational aesthetics’ as French art curator Nicolas Bourriaud has termed it, can ensue through an encounter with a z-bound project; the publication flipped and turned, separated and re-put back together.

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Beautiful z-bound MA Project ‘Warnings From The Past’ by © Leanne Mallinder. She explains: “‘Warnings From The Past’ is a small collection of five purely typographic speeches each coming with a corresponding poster of a quote from that speech.”

Bellybands

A bellyband looks much like a portion or strip of a book’s dust jacket, and performs in much the same way. Reasonably versatile, the bellyband can be used functionally to hold a collection of loose leaf pages together or decoratively and as an added layer of protection. When used decoratively as part of a well-designed publication, bellybands seem to lend an air of importance to things and manage to connote the idea of a certain graphical luxury.

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Two examples of well-designed and -integrated bellybands. Both carry important publication information, the first printed from handset type and the second featuring a subtle black spot varnish. Images supplied by (L>R) © Trip Print Press and © Oliver Rone-Clarke.

Elastic Bands

The humble elastic band is another innovative method of binding both loose leaf sheets (usually with notches die cut into their tops and bottoms) and for making more permanent binds. When not used for holding loose leaf sheet together they are best used for devices like flip-books, less good for binding thicker publications, as the elasticity makes for poor page fall. The intrinsically ephemeral nature of the elastic band can help signify a feel of happy ingenuity and immediacy.

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Charming and intricately bound ‘album to store feathers in’ for a bird-watching friend of © Ruth Bleakley. An exposed spine is visible, over which diagonal, coptic stitching sits housed. Elastic bands at the opposite end act as a clasp to keep it all together.

Exposed Spine

A largely recent phenomenon driven by designers and more visionary patrons that has had traditional book binders scratching their heads in befuddlement, exposed spines have become an increasingly common sight on design bookshelves in recent years. Perhaps the most openly decorative entry in this article, an exposed spine is not a method of binding per se, as all that has happened is a publication has been produced, usually perfect-bound and as per usual, and then its covers (and hence spine) left out of things, permitting a view of the exposed signatures and stitching which would typically be hidden away. The effect can be both cheerful and utilitarian, cheerful in that colourful signatures are often used in order to wring the most out of the finish (see project below), and utilitarian in the same way Renzo Piano’s Centre George’s Pompidou in Paris is, with its “exoskeleton” of escalators and scaffolding.

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As featured in these articles elsewhere, Typehigh and Lieselot Moed’s ‘Bodemweek book’ is a graphic banquet of format design and printed finish. In addition to containing gatefolds and perforations, the publication is also bound sans cover, revealing the colourful spine within.

Loose Leaf with Slipcase

There are several ways of collecting loose-leaf pages and holding them together (see ‘Bellybands’ and ‘Elastic Bands’ above) but few feel as luxurious as a bespoke slipcase. These die cut, quickly assembled gems can be designed to fit the pages within as snugly as a book’s covers. From a functional perspective, nothing can beat loose leaf for pages falling and staying open, as the whole point of them is that they aren’t bound, although the process does imply a certain artisanal decadence; a motorcycle maintenance manual, loose leaf, would be an inappropriate choice due to risks of pages becoming lost, discarded or rearranged out of order.

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Stunning self-promotional piece by Leicestershire-based graphic design studio Six. Six, ‘Made by Six 08/09’ is composed of loose leaf sheets that feature credentials, recent client work and selected studio projects, all housed in a subtly embossed slipcase/box. Image courtesy of © SeptemberIndustry.

In Sum…

An important, and at times fascinating, design component then, no? As with print finishes and substrates, for best results a method of binding should be decided upon at the start of a project and not at the end. Functional considerations should always be heeded, as the diverse array of binding methods available offer up an equally diverse breadth of differences in longevity and robustness. How easily a publication’s pages fall open should be a prime consideration for the thoughtful graphic designer. From a formal and aesthetic perspective, the myriad materials and sundry levels of intricacy available mean that several of the binding methods covered above may be used as signifiers for all kinds of messages, and, as I hope has been demonstrated, even act as the distinct finishing touch to a project.

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…and it’s not just paper-based substrates that can be bound in visually compelling ways! Image courtesy of © Kate Black.


Graphic Design School Blog

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Substrates & Finish, Article 2 of 3: Gorgeous Print Finishes

OPENING IMAGE.jpg

As varied as they are exciting, print finishes encompass a wide range of processes for designers to investigate and use. A finish may be applied once a substrate has been printed, to provide the finishing touch to a graphic object. They can be used to add a decorative aspect to a piece, or a textural quality. In some cases a finish might aid graphical function, or even represent an integral component of a piece’s form. Seven print finishes have been chosen for this article based on their powers to captivate, dazzle and add weight to ideas. Read on, take notes, and choose one for your next project to turn a mere good response into a graphical tour-de-force…

Author: Bradley Hotson for The Graphic Design School The Graphic Design School offers vocational training graphic design courses. Delivery is online, affordable and open to students all over the world to study in the comfort of their own home.

Substrates & Finish, Article 2 of 3: Gorgeous Print Finishes

Debossing & Embossing

Debossing and embossing are the processes whereby an element of a design is stamped into the substrate with ink or foil, giving printed medium a 3-dimensional, textural quality. Debossing occurs when the design has been pressed into the surface of the substrate, producing a recessed effect on the page. Embossing yields the opposite result; a raised design component on the printed object. Great impact can be achieved through an emboss or deboss, especially when combined with a striking foil or special colour. In aiming to communicate a more subtle effect, designers might also want to consider blind debossing and embossing. The processes are identical, save the fact that no ink or foil is used (see below right).

EMBOSS_DEBOSS.jpg

(L>R): A subtle deboss combined with what appears to be a white spot varnish. Image courtesy of © SeptemberIndustry; Debossed gold card. The emboss was achieved by operating a “curious industrial machine with a ‘single button”, explains © Kariann Burleson.

Foil Blocking

Few finishes can rival foil blocking for sheer razzle-dazzle. The process (also interchangeably known as foil stamp, heat stamp, hot stamp, block print and foil emboss) is achieved by pressing coloured foil onto a substrate with a heated die, which causes the foil to separate from its backing. Foil blocking can be used to great decorative and memorable effect. It is also versatile, and may be used to signify an array of signs and meanings, such as luxury, futuristic-ness, modernism and metallic-ness.

FOIL.jpg

London-based graphic design studio North are famous for not having a website. They instead show a single page of logotypes they have designed, which segue randomly from grey to colour in a delicate array of cadences. Shown above is a striking foil-blocked rendering of the same concept. Image courtesy of © SeptemberIndustry.

Die Cutting

With die cutting, a steel die is used to cut out a defined area of a design. This finish is often used with decorative intentions, and can create pleasing results on printed pieces, which resonate with recipients. Many printers stock a range of popular dies like circles and radiussed-cornered ingots, but you can also have them designed to your own specifications. Die cutting may also be used creatively as a functional element of the overall design; apertures in the covers of printed material allowing show-through to the content within being a good example.

DIE-CUT_COMBINED.jpg

From the simple to the complex. (i). Many printers stock a range of circular dies due to high demand for them. Their popularity does nothing to diminish the impact a well-designed circular die cut business card can make. (ii). This coaster was letterpress-printed and die cut in the shape of the state of Ohio. Images courtesy of (from L>R) © Malota and © Cranky Pressman. “Don’t Lose Heart” coaster designed by © Mikey Burton.

Varnishes

In addition to the practical uses varnishes offer, such as protecting substrates from smudging and wear (their primary purpose), the different types available can also be used decoratively by graphic designers to embellish printed material. As with foil blocking, different messages can be communicated through different uses of this finish, though having stated this, it should be added that this is perhaps natural, given the wide selection of varnishes available. Gloss, matt and satin are all commonly used and explain themselves. Two lustrous varnishes which merit a line or two of their own are

  • PEARLESCENT
    Pearlescent varnish, when used, delicately reflects a whole gamut of colours, giving a subtle, luxurious effect
  • SPOT UV
    Perhaps the most “designery” of the varnishes available, spot UV can be applied discretely to areas of a printed page so that when turned toward the light, these areas become highlighted
VARNISH_COMBINED.jpg

Devilishly versatile, and there to lend weight to the meanings you wish to communicate, from muted and delicate to glossy and whorish. (from L>R) images supplied by © Kariann Burleson and © SeptemberIndustry.

Deckled Edge

Perhaps not strictly a print finish, as a deckled edge on a paper stock will either be present when selecting a substrate or not, a deckled edge is nevertheless a visually arresting design component when used cleverly and appropriately. The name refers to paper that has a soft, raggedy edge to it. There are two types of deckles; natural and tear. Natural deckles occur (obviously enough) naturally at the point the paper is made. During paper manufacture, the slurry of wood pulp fibres which make up the paper are drained of water, and what is left sits atop a screen in a frame called a deckle, and it’s this frame that causes the uneven edge of paper made in this way. Tear deckles are achieved on purpose, by tearing, after the paper has been made.

Deckled edge paper seems to connote integrity and hand-craftedness. More often than not natural, they betray the very old and esteemed origins of the process used to create them. It’s perhaps no surprise that deckled edge papers are popular with letterpress printers and bookbinders all over the world.

DECKLE_COMBINED_NEW.jpg

(L>R): Charming letterpress-printed book by © Webb & Webb; Intriguing business card by Koichi Sato using a blind impression on the printing press. Both pieces are printed on deckle-edged paper. Koichi Sato image courtesy of © Kariann Burleson.

Perforation

Perforation is a process that generates rows of small holes through a substrate which weaken it along their axis and make tearing easy. Often used for practical purposes like tearing sections off forms, in recent years graphic designers have awoken to the tactile potential of perforation and began to introduce them into their designs. The process is there to serve a single, obvious function; for the paper to be torn apart or open, and this seductive proposition means the human compulsion to interact with perforations is always in attendance.

Shown below are pictures from “Drentse Bodemweek 2008″, a book designed for a Dutch environmental convention by Jelmar Geertsma of Netherlands-based design studio Typehigh and illustrator Lieslot Moed at Art Academy Minerva. The book is bound French-folded with illustrations to the insides of the pages and perforations running down their edges, inviting readers to tear them open and reveal the imagery within.

PERFORATION_NEW.jpg

Few print finishes get recipients interacting with printed medium more than perforation does. It’s the curiosity-barren person who doesn’t experience the desire to tear. Images supplied by © Typehigh, designed in collaboration with Lieselot Moed.

Special Colours

Most full-colour printing is achieved through the four-colour CMYK process, and while myriad colours can be reproduced using this method, CMYK cannot cover everything, and sometimes more striking results can be achieved through the use of a spot (or special) colour. A spot colour is a specially made ink all of its own, and usually requires its own plate when passing on press. During printing, the special colour is not mixed with any of the other inks, hence its dense, flat quality. Fluorescent colours are special, as are metallics, both unachievable through the four-colour process. The vibrancy attainable through the use of special colours need not be stated.

SPECIAL COLOUR.jpg

Additional special “spot” colours can be added to the four-colour CMYK process at any pass on press. Eye-catching effects can be achieved through the use of carefully chosen special colours. Image supplied by © SeptemberIndustry.

In Sum

The print finishes outlined above, and more besides, are all at the creative’s disposal for adding a special final touch to a project; the graphic designer’s icing on the cake, if you will. As with substrates, finishes can be used to enhance messages and communicate meanings to audiences. Whilst typically carried out at the end of the production process, for best success print finishes should not be applied to a project merely as an afterthought, but built in to the design from the start.

Practical factors such as costs, budgets and print runs are ever-present in the designer’s life, and it can take some hefty persuasion to convince a client of the benefits of spending funds on a brilliant finish, a task compounded by global recession. However, with such a dazzling array of finishes there to be used, it has to be worth a try now and again, surely? Many of the projects photographed included in this article were printed in the past two years, so we can infer that some clients are budgeting for lavish print finishes. Given this, would it be overly optimistic of me to cry: “Profligacy is dead. Long live profligacy!”?

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The words above may be a strapline for UK-based graphic design studio Golden, but they might equally apply to us creatives who tirelessly strive to explore the bounds of print finishes! Image supplied by © SeptemberIndustry.


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Substrates & Finish: Article 3 of 3 :: Seven Sumptuous Substrates

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One of the most rewarding aspects of being a graphic designer is the sheer scale of gorgeous and tactile materials to work with and print on. There are dozens at your disposal, some in common usage and others waiting to be discovered and put to graphical use by future pioneers. Because of their widely diverse nature, substrates can be used to suggest all kinds of meanings and signify all kinds of signs, from luxury and good taste right through to anarchy and roughness. Substrates help to reinforce the messages you wish to communicate. I’ve hand-picked seven of them for the last in our unashamedly image-teeming short series of articles on substrates and finish. So without further ado…

Author: Bradley Hotson for The Graphic Design School The Graphic Design School offers vocational training graphic design courses. Delivery is online, affordable and open to students all over the world to study in the comfort of their own home.

Substrates & Finish: 7 Sumptuous Substrates

Greyboard

Primarily used for inconspicuous packaging material, graphic designers have been turning to greyboard as a substrate on which to print for some time now, in a table-turning celebration of its rough-edged qualities. Despite its unglamorous origins (it is produced from waste paper) greyboard has a tactile quality which feels satisfying in the hands. High contrasts between coarseness and precision may be achieved by combining this gravelly favourite with a lavish printing finish such as foil-blocking (see images below).

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Greyboard postcards with cyan foil printed on front, black foil on reverse for artist-led organisation Interval. Designed by © Graham Jones.

PVC

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a cheap, durable and easy-to-assemble material often used for signage and report covers. Type and imagery can be transferred onto PVC through screen printing, die-cutting and transfers. Widely produced in myriad colours and weights, PVC is an appealing substrate which graphic designers should (and do) take advantage of to produce objects most often printed on more predictable stocks. The results can be dramatic and unpredictable, turning easily-forgotten or disposable printed matter, like invitations and business cards, into memorable objects of permanence.

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These business cards were printed on a translucent PVC substrate which is refreshing and unexpected. The black and silver inks used lend them an expensive feel. From © Pinkograf.

Fabric

The use of fabric for graphic design purposes has obvious uses when one considers clothing label clients and the like, but can also be used to suggest any number of meanings, as the various fabrics themselves do. Tweed has become a symbol of the countryside, and silk connotes expensiveness. Fabrics can be screen printed and hand-drawn onto. They lend actual weight to objects and are inevitably tactile.

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To suggest “vibrant modernity as well as solid City tradition” in a piece designed for investment bank Lehman Brothers, London-based graphic design studio The Design Conspiracy produced 5 handmade pin stripe boxes, with material sourced from Savile Row. When the box was opened it revealed an explosion of bright colours.

Translucent Stock

Transparency and translucence have an intrinsically enchanting value that children are fascinated by and graphic designers have been clever to exploit. Thin stocks are often susceptible to showthrough, which is generally seen as a defect, but transparency may also be used by designers deliberately and creatively to great effect. With translucent objects compositions change depending on what happens to be beneath the stock.

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Striking posters designed for a series of talks held by LongLunch. Printed on Transcolour Leaf and Transcolour Red Roses, both by GF Smith. Image used with kind permission of © Proud Creative.

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Specialist East Yorkshire-based paper merchants GF Smith offer customers a tremendous selection of tactile and unusual substrates.

Newsprint

Composed of mechanically-ground wood pulp, newsprint has a short lifespan and is cheap to produce, hence its principal use for newspapers and comic books. Perhaps due to its cheap and ephemeral nature however, graphic designers sometimes use it as a substrate on which to print work of high caliber, which might arguably be better suited to a stock offering more longevity or a higher quality finish. This knowingly perverse design decision can add novelty to a project; to view a publication with high design standards printed on newsprint can be a bemusingly pleasurable experience.

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The cheap and ephemeral nature of newsprint hasn’t stopped many designers choosing it as a substrate on which to print great work. Image supplied by © Jennifer Daniel.

Flock

If ever there was a substrate candidate intended to add a tactile quality to printed material it must be flock. Flock was originally intended to simulate tapestry and Italian velvet brocade. These days, designers use it to add a decorative, tactile and luxurious feel to printed materials. As with fabrics, flock naturally recommends itself to projects for clients such as clothing companies and textiles merchants, and its luxurious, almost baroque, character makes it ideally suited to wedding materials. The robust nature of flock means it can be embossed, debossed and foil-blocked.

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For those intending their project to connote luxury teetering on the decadent, few substrates can match flock. Image used with permission of © CraftyKat.

Astrolux Mirror Board

Astrolux is a highly reflective, high-gloss card available in a wide range of colours. When combined with embossing, the results can be beautiful. Luxury, again, is a look which can be achieved, especially when hues of gold or silver are used, although astrolux board offers a more contemporary and less traditional experience than, say, flock does. Precision, seriousness, fun (think grown-up tinsel and baubles) and cool futuristicness are all values attainable with the versatile astrolux board.

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Why limit yourself to one intriguing substrate? To evoke the feeling of opening a tin for his ‘Pilchards’ project book arts enthusiast Simon Goode has used astrolux mirror board, kraft, tracing and graph papers in an audacious blend of materials.

Top Tips

  • Choose a substrate which can ‘take’ a printed design and is appropriate for your intended message
  • Research the substrates available from paper mills and specialist suppliers
  • Familiarize yourself with the costs of materials. Prices of substrates can fluctuate, and it pays to keep your knowledge topped up.
  • If you’re sure of a particular substrate’s powers to connote luxury/spontaneity/hand-craftedness (delete as appropriate) but are worried about costs, obtain printers’ quotes on both standard stock and your special choice. Present both to your client and argue your case.

In Sum

Choosing a substrate is an integral part of the design process, and should be carried out at the start of each project. Luckily for creatives, the number of substrates available to us is now greater than ever before, giving us unprecedented choice over the materials we select for our jobs. Few other elements of the design process work so hard at buttressing, connoting and amplifying the messages we communicate, or so persuasively at cajoling our audiences into “feeling” these messages. The death of print has been heralded regularly for a decade now, and whilst evidently an overblown claim, designers must continue to do all they can to explore, fathom and utilize the frontiers of the Printed Object. In this unprecedented era of glorious substrates, you’ll be in with a head start.

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If a surface will take a printed impression, it’s fair game! Image used with kind permission of © Dave Kirby.


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