Elevate the Look of Your Brand (Part I): A Quick Guide to Print Finishes

When it comes to producing your stationery and branded materials, there are a variety of options available to consider—premium paper stocks, speciality printing processes and finishes, all contribute towards making a lasting impression and creating a distinctive look for your brand.

In order to provide some inspiration for your next print project, we’ll be rolling a series of articles that look at ways to elevate the look and feel of your brand.


Special print finishes

It’s All About The Details

When you send off artwork to a printer, apart from choosing a suitable printing process, you can ask for post-print effects (a.k.a. special finishes) to be added to your printed product to enhance its visual appeal or add durability and protection to the printing piece.

Investing in special print finishes can really help your brand materials stand out. Different finishing options are available, offering different levels of visual impact, protection and cost. This article provides an overview of the different types of print finishes to help you choose the right technique for your next print job.

First of all, what are ‘print finishes’?

Print finishing refers to the actions performed on your printed materials once the ink has dried. 

Below we’ve outlined some of the finishes available in the industry. Each finishing type will give a different result but all can contribute to creating eye-catching print communication materials that enhance your brand at every touchpoint.

Foil Blocking

If you’re thinking about enhancing your design in a specialist and unique way, foiling is one of the most popular print finishing techniques. It involves a metallic, gloss, matt or clear foil being applied with pressure to the stock using a heated metal die and a hot foiling stamping machine, hence the name hot foiling.

Foiling adds memorable shine and a reflective dimension to printed materials with a slightly indented feel into the paper. Foil Stamping with black foil on black paper stock or clear gloss foil on white paper stock provides a minimal and contemporary tone-on-tone look. Foil stamping also allows to successfully add white lettering on black stock.

Finally, there are holographic foils, which can be used to add a stylish silvery-rainbow, reflective effect to printed items and create a bit of a futuristic look depending on how the light hits the printed surface.

Metallic Inks

These speciality inks contain metallic components that give them a reflective quality and bright finish compared to standard inks. There are many glittery and shining metallic Pantone inks available. More muted than foiling, metallic inks can create a stunning yet subtle effect for a really sophisticated and memorable finish. 

Edge Painting

This finishing process involves covering the sides of a printed piece with a layer of ink or paint.

Edge gilding is very similar to edge painting, but it involves the use of a shiny metallic silver or gold leaf to a paper’s edge. The thicker the paper, the more noticeable will be the reflective edge.

Embossing and Debossing

Embossing and debossing are other techniques to add a tactile and three-dimensional feel to branded piece of collateral. With these finishing processes, the surface of the paper stock is either raised or pressed down, bringing a more intense textured feeling and a unique eye-catching effect to your printed item, such as business cards and invitations.

Blind embossing is when this effect is applied to blank paper without ink, while a registered emboss is amplified with colour—either through offset printing or a foil stamp, to create a relief effect.


Now used for decorative and vintage effects, this printing process dates back to the 1400s and involves a block template of raised letters that are inked up and pressed onto the paper surface, recreating the letters in reverse. Traditional letterpress printing stands apart from full-colour printing in the way that the ink is slightly indented into the page.

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