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Print finish glossary

The print world is full of technical jargon. Here at Martin Hopkins we bloody love a good print finish. Here we explain some of the print finishes we have used for our wonderful clients. From spot UV to embossing, there are multiple options; but what do they all mean..?

© Martin Hopkins Design, Cardiff - SP Logo Design Brand Mark Bronze Foil
Bronze foil blocking (St Patrick's House, Cardiff)


Foil Blocking

Foil blocking can really make an impact. It's a great finish to give a job that high-end, sophisticated look if used correctly. A foiled material is printed onto stock using a heated stamp in the shape of the image or shape required. There are multiple options when choosing a foil, including; shiny metallics, satins, gloss and matt pigment colours as well as many special diffraction and security foils. Boards, plastics, papers and other stock material can all be foil blocked.


© Martin Hopkins Design, Cardiff - Spot UV Design Print Brochure
Silver foil blocking with spot uv (No 2 Capital Quarter, Cardiff)


Spot UV


Spot UV has the great ability to either give something a subtle lift or hide a sophisticated message in amongst print design. It gets its name from the fact that it uses UV light to “cure” a varnish that is applied to paper/stock. The spot uv varnish can be applied to a plain stock, but is more commonly applied to printed material to seal in their colour, add a shine and protect the printed surface beneath it from moisture/damage. It can be used to highlight logos or images and can even be most impactful when printed where there is no colour print beneath; meaning it can only be seen when it catches the light. We really like bringing print to life with a spot uv lift.   


© Martin Hopkins Design, Cardiff - Gloss Lamination Print Design Folder Brochure (Jeffrey Ross, Unisan & HRT)
Left: Gloss lamination (Jeffrey Ross), Top right: soft touch lamination (Unisan), bottom right: matt lamination (Herbert R Thomas)




Lamination can give a protective and interesting feel to any printed stock. Available as a gloss, soft touch or matt lamination can really add impact to any printed material. To put it simply, lamination is a process of applying a thin layer of plastic to paper or board to enhance and protect the printed material below it. Lamination can both be practical and an experience in itself. Gloss lamination is ideal for restaurant menus; allowing them to be wiped clean. Soft touch and matt lamination can really enhance a users experience of a printed material by the soft texture/feel it has.


© Martin Hopkins Design, Cardiff - Debossed Debossing Print Finish Invite Wedding
Debossing (wedding invitation)


Embossing & Debossing


Embossing and debossing can often get mistaken for one another. However the two are almost opposites. Embossing makes things 'pop out' and debossing leaves a depression on a material in the opposite direction. When debossing a material, an image is pressed into the material and does not require a counter force (similar to foiling blocking but no foil is applied). Embossing uses a female die and a male counterforce to press the material to raise the details to be embossed. Both Make for a beautiful print finish. Often used in Wedding stationary, embossing and debossing can add a real air of sophistication to any print job. These finishes can also be combined with other finishes such as foils to create an even more impressive finish.



© Martin Hopkins Design, Cardiff - Tim Vaughan Brochure Print Design Uncoated Stock Finish
Uncoated stock (Tim Vaughan Racing)


Uncoated Stock


If none of the above methods of finish catch your attention, you may choose to print onto an uncoated stock. This quite literally means that other than the basic printing of the artwork, there are no additional coatings used to enhance the design. Generally uncoated stock is not as smooth as coated stock and tends to be more porous and absorbent of ink. As simple as it seems, sometimes an uncoated stock can create that simple effortless look you might be looking for. 


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