Glossary :: Litmus Mockups and Prototypes
3D Printing
As the name suggests, this involves a printer that creates 3D objects from digital files. It's incredibly versatile and can replicate everything from drink and perfume bottles to inhalers and prosthetics.
Acetate is a strong nylon-based plastic.
Aqueous Coating
A clear coating used to protect printed materials, producing a high-gloss surface that improves durability.
The finished, print ready, version of a design file sent to printers or mock-up houses to print final packaging or materials.
The area of printed artwork that runs outside the trim or cutting area. This is to allow for any small movements during trimming. Traditional artwork is supplied with between 2mm and 3mm bleed.
Blister Pack
Blister Pack is a term for several types of pre-formed plastic packaging used for small consumer goods, foods and pharmaceuticals. The main component of a blister pack is a cavity or pocket (or series of) usually made from plastic. The pockets are sealed with a layer of foil or plastic that can be pierced easily to release the contents. Blister packs are commonly used for tablets or capsules, for e.g. Painkillers.
Abbreviation for Back of Pack – used to denote the back of a piece of packaging where mandatory and legal information is usually found.
BOPP or Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene is a thin, lightweight plastic film. It's incredibly strong and protects against water, oils and grease. BOPP is commonly used for food and tobacco packaging and is fast replacing Cellophane due to its lower cost. BOPP is environmentally friendly and widely recyclable.
Brand / Branding
A brand is a company, individual or organisation and branding or brand identity is how it projects itself to the world.
A brandmark, or logo, is the visual representation of a brand. A brandmark usually consists of a wordmark (the brand name) and a mnemonic or brand icon, but it can also be just a stylised wordmark.
Brand Identity
A brand identity is sometimes confused with a logo or brandmark, in fact it's a lot more than that. A brand identity is a holistic system that projects how a company or organisation is perceived by its audience, across multiple touchpoints; from a brandmark and stationery to social media posts and a website etc. It also incorporates tone of voice, colour and style.
Today it's just as much about how a brand behaves and engages its audience as how it looks. Young consumers don't want to be bombarded by sales messages, they want meaningful connection.
CAD Cutting
CAD cutting involves a large flatbed "plotter" and a computer-controlled arm fitted with a variety of blades and knives. This is used 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.
A carton is another word for a small card or carboard box.
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, producing stunning visual effects that appear much like holographic foils. Cast and cure is also much more environmentally friendly than the processes it mimics.
CDU stands for Counter Display Unit – most often a card display box used to present products to customers at a till point.
Cellophane wrap, or cello, is a 100% biodegradable and compostable organic compound used to wrap everything from flowers to chocolate boxes.
CGI, or Computer Generated Imagery, is a great way to test your ideas digitally, either alongside physical mock-ups, or as an alternative. Physical and digital mock-ups both offer different advantages, but they also complement each other.
Clamshell Packaging
A Clamshell pack is any piece of (predominately plastic) packaging that folds together to protect a product. Clamshells can be made from a variety of plastics including polystyrene, polyester, PVC, card or foam. Good examples include burger boxes, salad boxes and pen multi-packs.
CMYK, or four colour printing, is the most widely used method of printing colour images using fine dots of overlaid colour. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (Black is shown as K, short for Key or Key colour). Black adds depth, whilst the other colours are combined to produce different shades and tints.
A special liquid coating that's applied to artwork to reduce the risk of ink smudging after printing.
Cold Foil
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" (stamp) or heat. Once the foil is applied it can be overprinted 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.
Colour Separation
The artwork process of separating colours for print- CMYK or Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (Black is shown as K, short for Key or Key colour).
Corrugated Cardboard
Corrugated, or fluted, cardboard is a very versatile, recyclable material, suitable for a wide variety of applications. It's most often used for in-store display units, transit cases (for multiple products), shelf ready packaging, countertop display units and white goods packaging. It can even be used for giant or supersized mock-ups due to its strength and stability.
Crop Marks
Thin printed lines that denote where an artwork should be trimmed.
Deboss & Emboss
A Deboss involves stamping a part of a design (for e.g. a brandmark) into the surface of an object or paper so that there's an indent. Embossing is the opposite of debossing.
Deckle Edge
An untrimmed edge that's feathered or rough.
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.
Digital Printing
Digital printing is a fairly cheap and efficient print method that utilises laser jets (similar to the ones found in home printers). Digital printing is also fast and ideal for both large and small-scale jobs.
Doy Pouch
A Doy Pouch, or stand-up pouch, is a type of flexible packaging which is able to stand upright for display, storage and everyday usage (the bottom part of the pouch is gusseted to provide support). Doy pouches are mostly made from plastic or coated paper. Doy pouches are commonly used for powders, ready-to-drink beverages and small snack products (for e.g. nuts).
Dry Transfers
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 run of mock-ups and can be applied to most materials including glass, card and plastic.
Emboss & Deboss
An emboss involves stamping a part of a design (for e.g. a brandmark) into the surface of an object or paper from behind so that there's raised section. Debossing is the opposite of embossing.
A finish is a special effect applied to a printed product artwork. Popular finishes include: Foils, varnishes (matt, silk, gloss, spot UV etc.), embosses, debosses and die-cuts.
Flow Wrap
Flow wraps are commonly used to package biscuits, countline chocolate bars, crisps and salads. They are a cost effective and versatile means of packaging any shape or size of product tightly, reducing movement. Flow wraps are made from a single sheet of polypropylene, sealed along one edge and crimp sealed at both ends.
FSDU stands for Floor Standing Display Unit. These are carboard merchandising units used in shops and supermarkets to display and promote new products.
Graphic design
Graphic design is the art of creating visual concepts for print, packaging and digital applications. This is done by hand and computer and helps to communicate ideas that inspire, inform and engage consumers.
High-Build Varnish
High-build varnishes are thicker than ordinary varnishes and combine reflective finish with the tactility of embossing.
Hot Foil
Hot foiling (AKA foil blocking or hot foil stamping) is a method of applying foil details to a printed surface using a "die" (a stamp), 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.
High-Density Polyethylene is a thermoplastic polymer with a high strength-to-density ratio and is used to produce plastic bottles, corrosion-resistant piping and geomembranes. HDPE is commonly recycled.
Iridescent Varnishes
Iridescent varnishes are transparent varnishes that shift in colour and appearance depending on light and viewing angles. The effect is similar to that seen on the inside of mother of pearl shells or soap bubbles.
Justification or Justified Text
Justification refers to the way text is arranged on a design, artwork or page. If the text aligns to the left margin it is "left justified" and so on. "Force justified" text is text that has been made to fit between both margins giving the appearance of equal line widths, although sometimes there may be large gaps between the words on shorter lines.
Kerning, or letter spacing, is the art of increasing or decreasing the space between the letters of a word (or block of text) to produce a pleasing, balanced and easy to read result.
Keylines are lines drawn on an artwork or design to indicate the exact placement, shape and size of elements including photos, halftones, illustrations etc. In graphic design a keyline is usually a printed element but for artwork, a keyline usually refers to an unprinted guide (for e.g. a cutter guide).
Kiss cutting
Kiss cutting is a die cutting process whereby adhesive-backed foils or papers are cut through, but the laminated backing paper is not. The process got its name because the kiss cutting blade cuts through the self-adhesive material, but only "kisses" the backing paper without cutting.
Kraft Paper
A coarse unbleached paper used for printing and industrial products.
Lamination refers to the process of applying thin transparent plastic sheets to one or both sides of an artwork. Benefits include scuff resistance, waterproofing and extended use.
Low-Density Polyethylene is a thin plastic film used for food packaging. LDPE is not commonly recyclable.
Leading is the space between lines of text – sometimes referred to as "line spacing". Opening up the leading means making the line spacing wider, whilst closing up the leading means tightening it up.
Letter Spacing
Letter spacing, or kerning, is the art of increasing or decreasing the space between the letters of a word (or block of text) to produce a pleasing, balanced and easy to read result.
Line Spacing
See Leading (above).
Litho Printing
Lithography, or lithographic printing, is a high-speed print technique used for everything from books and newspapers to packaging and posters. It's a form of offset printing, which means that it uses a printing plate to transfer a design or image to a roller and then onto a substrate.
Linear Low-Density Polyethylene is a plastic film used for food packaging. It's stronger and more resistance to harsh environments than LDPE. LLDPE is not commonly recyclable.
Logo or Logotype
Logo is short for logotype and used to describe a brand symbol and/or wordmark. Brandmark is increasingly a more popular, modern way of referring to a logo.
Make-ready refers to the paper that's used to produce test prints whilst a print press is being calibrated and set up for a job. Printers often refer to early prints as Make-readies, but Make-ready can also refer to the process of setting up the print press or "making it ready."
Micro-embosses are tiny embossed patterns pressed into the surface of inks, foils or paper using a "die" or stamp. They can be patterned or graphic and are often used to add a textural and/or anti-counterfeiting element to designs.
Moulded Tray
Moulded Trays are usually designed to hold spherical objects like fruit. They can be made out of plastic or eco-friendly recycled kraft paper.
A multipack is any form of packaging designed to hold multiple packs. Multipacks are commonly made from plastic shrink sleeves or card (or sometimes a combination of both). A multipack often carries a reduced cost compared to buying the contents individually.
Oriented Polypropylene is a thin film is made of polypropylene. It is strong, highly transparent material. OPP is used mainly for food bags, sachets, labels and flow wraps. OPP is mostly recyclable.
Outer Packaging
Outer Packaging, or transit packaging, usually refers to the corrugated cardboard boxes used to ship or transit products from manufacturers to shops. These boxes are often printed with single colours and are not intended for general consumers.
Pantone Matching System
The Pantone Matching System is a colour standardization system that assists in colour matching and identification. It is comprised of 1,867 solid colours (made from 13 base pigments) and spans everything from pastels to metallics. Pantone make books of their colours, with removable rows of colour chips, as well as fans, in a variety of different configurations. They are a great way for clients, designers and printers to agree colours before they are printed.
Fun fact – Pantone means "all colours" from the Italian Pan and Tone.
Post-Consumer Resin, or PCR, is the technical term for plastic waste that's been collected from streets, rivers and recycling centres and sorted, sterilized and melted down into beads. These beads can then be turned into new plastic products which are in turn recyclable. PCR removes plastic from the environment as well as creating jobs. At the moment it's fairly expensive but adoption by major corporations is bringing the price down and driving demand.
Pearlescent Varnish
Pearlescent varnish contains pearlised particles that react with different wavelengths of light producing an iridescent glow.
PET or Polyethylene Terephthalate is a form of polyester (like the clothing fabric). It is extruded or moulded into plastic bottles and containers for packaging foods and beverages, personal care products, and many other consumer products.
PMS is short for Pantone Matching System (see above).
Polypropylene is the second most common type of plastic after Polythene. It's used for a wide variety of applications from food packaging to fibre optics, carpets and machine parts. Most food packaging Polypropylene is recyclable.
Polythene is the most common type of plastic in use today. It's employed for a wide variety of applications from packaging to cable sheathing.
POS stands for Point of Sale and is used to describe any form of print that sits next to a till point, usually to entice consumers to buy a last minute, or impulse purchase item.
A pouch is any form of flat plastic or paper bag packaging that can be filled with products and sealed. There are many types from Doy pouches to pillow pouches and gusseted pouches.
A proof, or print proof, is a prototype print that provides an accurate representation of how your design will look when professionally printed.
PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride is a synthetic resin made from the polymerization of vinyl chloride. PVC is used in an enormous range of domestic and industrial products, from food packaging to raincoats, window frames and even indoor plumbing.
Quad Bag
A quad bag is a flat bottomed, 4 sided bag joined by 4 gussets. Quad bags can be made from foil, plastic or paper and are used for larger quantity products due to their strength and scalability. One of the most common quad bag applications is dry cat or dog food.
RGB stands for Red, Green, Blue and is the colour model used for all electronic screen applications. Red, green and blue are added together to reproduce a broad array of colours. RGB is never used for printed materials. For the print equivalent see CMYK.
rPET or Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate is strong, durable, recycled material with a wide variety of applications from drinks bottles to blanks and insulation. rPET is produced by collecting and sorting PET and refining it into flakes that can be turned into new products. rPET is already being used as an alternative to PVC and PET and is a huge step toward a greener future.
A sachet is a small bag or packet. It can be made from paper, foil or plastic.
Screen Printing
Screen printing, or silk screen printing, is one of the most famous printing techniques. It involves pressing ink through a stencilled mesh screen to create bold printed images. Because screen printing creates lovely flat bright colours, it can be used to produce a strong graphic look or can be combined with other print techniques (like digital) to add an extra dimension to mock-ups and prototypes. Screen printing can also be used to print pearlescent varnishes.
Sealing Varnish
A Sealing Varnish is a thin varnish coating used to seal a piece of artwork, making it more durable.
Shrink Sleeve
Shrink sleeves are acetate (a strong nylon-based plastic) based and can be used to cover bottles, cans and aerosols - often "heat shrunk" to fit any shape from a simple cylinder to a complex perfume bottle.
SKU stands for Stock Keeping Unit and is used to refer to an individual retail item. Each SKU has a unique identifier or code that helps with stock keeping.
Sleeve can refer to anything that slides over the top of a piece of packaging. Acetate (a strong nylon-based plastic) sleeves are used to cover the tops of ready meals, whilst paper or card sleeves are used to display graphics for the same meals or for wrapping tins of soup.
Soft Touch Varnish
A Soft Touch Varnish is a clear matt varnish that feels soft to the touch.
A Spectrophotometer is a physical colour analyser. It's used for scanning physical colours and breaking them down into their component digital colour values.
Spot Varnish
A Spot Varnish is a clear varnish applied to a specific shape or area of a design (for e.g. a pattern or brandmark).
SRP stands for Shelf Ready Packaging and refers to outer packaging that can be quickly adapted to directly merchandise products. The most common example is the cardboard trays found beneath bottles or jars on supermarket shelves – these arrive with a thin layer of plastic to hold the product to the tray. Once the plastic is removed, the tray and products slide easily onto a shelf for consumers to shop.
Outside of artwork and design SRP can also stand for Suggested Retail Price.
Swing Ticket
A Swing Ticket is a small piece of card, or paper, used to display information for a piece of packaging. Sometimes these hang from the necks of drinks bottles, but they are most commonly found attached to clothes.
Textured Varnish
As the name suggests this is a varnish with raised tactile qualities. Textured varnishes can mimic materials from leather to sandpaper and even crocodile skin.
Transit Case
Transit Case usually refers to the corrugated cardboard boxes used to ship or transit products from manufacturers to shops. These boxes are often printed with single colours and are not intended for general consumers.
Trigger Spray
A Trigger Spray is usually a plastic bottle with a trigger activated spray mechanism. The most common example is a household surface cleaner.
UV Varnish
A UV, or Ultra-Violet Varnish is a premium varnish that produces a vivid, luxurious and more tactile finish when compared to standard varnishes. UV varnishes are "cured" under UV lights, hence the name. UV varnishes are available in matt, silk and gloss.
Vacuum Forming
Vac, or vacuum, forming involves heating sheets of plastic so that they can be force pressed against a single-surface mould. It's generally used to create folded plastic shapes (like Easter egg containers or blister packs).
A varnish is a clear coating applied to a printed surface to produce a glossy, matt or silk finish. Each varnish adds a different feel and effect, from sleek and shiny to matt and sophisticated. There are also an increasing number of special effect varnishes including spot UV, textured, pearlescent and high-build.
Wet Proofs
Wet proofs are a type of preliminary print, produce to show how a job will print commercially. Wet proofs can then be used as colour and quality targets for commercial printers.