How to choose the right print finish




  • Industry |
  • News

Here at Contrast HQ we’re always admiring our printer samples and discovering ways to add magic & sparkle to our client’s print marketing, every month of the year.

The tactile nature of print media is one of the most important ways to stand- out. The Content Marketing Institute says audiences are more engaged with print marketing than ever before.

Achieve a real one-to-one experience and guarantee consumer engagement by making serious impact with these print finishes & foils in 2019.


We honestly get excited when we look through our foil books. Account Director Louise isn’t happy if samples are torn out of the book. Beware.

Foils are featuring heavily in the design world right now & show no sign of tarnishing.

First used by the Egyptians, then monks in the middle ages. Machines embossed leather book covers, then gold foil was added by hand. This was the earliest form of foil blocking and was widespread until the start of the 19th century. As gold was very expensive to use, at the start of the 20th century different metallic foils started being produced, evolving the process of foil blocking. Today it’s largely a commercial print process using golds, silvers or other metallic shades.

Contrast Tip: First impressions really do count. Foils are the ideal way to add sparkle & exclusivity to business cards & flyers. Use in small areas to draw attention to logos or titles. If you want metallic influences throughout a project, then consider spot metallic inks too.

Spot UV Varnish

Contrast remember this being very popular in the early 2000s and it’s having a resurgence.UV Varnish is a tough clear-coat of liquid, applied over printed matter. When the liquid is exposed to Ultra-Violet (UV) light, it bonds and dries instantly…hence the name “UV varnish.”Apply to a specific area (or areas) of a printed piece rather than coating an entire surface. We’ve used it recently on a typographic invitation for the events company UBM.Contrast Tip: Use UV varnish on a material stock or texture that mimics an aspect of your brand. A raw paper to communicate ‘natural’ or a sleek finish to express modernity perhaps? This paired with UV is a creative way to add depth and contrast to a striking message.

Lamination – gloss and matt finishes

Matt lamination gives a subtle yet smooth quality finish. Great for brochures you want to be picked up for years to come.

Gloss adds that additional level of ‘high profile’. Adding a sumptuous sheen, it’s used on brochure covers, menus, magazine covers or presentation folders.

Contrast Tip: We love using laminate on projects that show off high quality imagery. Perhaps you have breath-taking photos you know deserve the chance to take centre-stage? Go gloss for an ethereal quality.


Nothing says luxury & artisan like letterpress printing.  In a lot of designer’s eyes, it’s “the King” of printing.

Letterpress printing began in the 1800’s using hand-set wood and metal plates. Today it happens on a photo-polymer plate. Designs start on a computer. The latest fonts, graphics, pattern and complicated multi-colour designs can be produced with relative ease. The actual printing part though is still done by hand. One print at a time.

Contrast Tip: You can often ‘feel’ the print with this method as it often achieves a slight deboss on the ink. Use letterpress for where you want to achieve a real personal touch. Wedding invitations, business cards & stationery work beautifully.


Embossing refers to a method of pressing an image into paper or cardstock to create a three- dimensional design. Perfect for using on logos or short captions of text.

While Embossing results in a raised surface, with the design higher than the surrounding paper area, Debossing results in a depressed surface, with the design lower than the surrounding paper area.

Contrast Tip: Use to give texture to a patterned image or creative font. Or if you want to achieve a ‘stripped-back’ design, it is a great way to display a strong brand logo.

In an increasingly digital world where talk of engagement is everything, it’s lovely to return to more traditional forms of marketing that create such emotive experiences for consumers.

Adding extra sparkle should not only increase your ROI but will make your customer feel like they’ve had the thrill of opening a Christmas gift, outside of the festive period.

What’s not to love?