At Litmus we are always experimenting with different finishes and effects, in order to deliver a stand out result for our clients’ projects. Below you will find a brief introduction to the 7 core finishes that we use.
Hot foiling (AKA foil blocking or hot foil stamping) is a method of applying foil details to a print surface using a “die” (a moulded shape), heat and pressure. This produces a debossed shiny finish that gives a premium, tactile feel. Hot foil is usually added to luxury packaging to add quality cues. Foils are available in hundreds of different colours, from silver to gold and everything in between.
Cold foiling is a cheaper, more environmentally friendly alternative to hot foil. It involves bonding foil to a special artwork colour which means that it doesn’t involve a “die” or heat. One the foil is applied we can overprint with any colour and even different tones to give a layered feel. Cold foil doesn’t leave an impression, so is less tactile than hot foil.
Embossing & Debossing
Debossing involves stamping a part of a design (for e.g. a brandmark) into the surface of the artwork to produce an indent. This involves the creation of a “die”, or stamp.
Embossing is the opposite of debossing - the desired area is stamped on the reverse of the printed area to produce a raised impression.
Both processes produce stylish results, lending a premium, tactile aspect to your designs and even creating shadows when they catch the light. We can produce multi-layered embosses and debosses as well as fine detailed micro embosses.
A “die” is a razor-sharp steel blade formed into a stamp shape (a bit like a cookie cutter). Dies are used to punch out cut-outs in long commercial artwork runs. A good example is the windows in the front of carton packs or sleeves, that allow you to see the products. Die cutting can also be used to cut out complex patterns or make impressions or creases.
CAD cutting involves a large flatbed “plotter” and a computer controlled arm fitted with a variety of blades and knives. We use this to cut and crease card, acetate, or E-flute boards up to 5mm thick. It’s perfect for making cartons and boxes and cutting simple or intricate shapes into them (for e.g. windows or patterns). CAD cutting is great for short print runs.
Dry transfers, or rubdowns, are flat, single coloured graphics produced on a sheet and “rubbed down“ onto the surface of a mock-up or prototype. They are a great, cost effective way of adding small foil or Pantone coloured details to a short un of mock-ups and can be applied to most materials including glass, card and plastic. We can replicate almost any metallic shade or flat colour and our transfers can be any shape or size up to A3.
A varnish is a clear coating applied to a printed surface to produce a glossy, matt or satin finish. Each varnish adds a different feel and effect, from sleek and shiny to matt and sophisticated. Litmus also offer special effect varnishes including spot UV, tactile, pearlescent and high-build.
Varnishes can cover the whole surface of a mock-up or prototype or be used to highlight a certain area, like a brandmark or typography. This is called spot varnishing and adds an eye-catching aspect to any design as it reflects light, in a similar but subtler way to foil. Spot varnishes come in a full range of finishes and effects, but our favourite is high-build, a thicker varnish that combines shine with the tactility of embossing.
Cast & Cure
Cast and cure, or film casting, is a revolutionary decorative process that allows an etched image to be added to a UV coating to produce stunning visual effects that appear much like holographic foils. Cast and cure is also much more environmentally friendly than the processes it mimics and really needs to be seen to be believed.