Ed #6 Embossing / Foil Stamping

Having It All

Of course, you don’t need to decide between embossing and foil stamping—often they’re used together. In what’s known as the “stamp and bump” process, an image is first flat stamped with a foil and then, in a second pass, the stamped area and possibly other parts of the sheet are embossed or debossed. It’s a good technique for adding more interest to corporate trademarks and designs with fine details, because the coverage can be precise. See chart, “die-a-grams”

For people who want all the bells and whistles, there is combination work, which embosses and foil stamps in a single pass through the press, using a die that includes a cutting edge to trim the foil to exactly the right dimensions.

The impact of combination work can range from subtle to extreme. A clear foil or light tint applied over a small embossed area can add a delicate grace note to the design. A wide band of metallic foil, with sculptured embossing and a gold border with an engraved finish, can have a different effect. Foil stamping and embossing will accent a good design; they will also draw attention to a bad one.

Used by itself or in combination work, foil stamping has many of the same production considerations as embossing, beginning with the schedule and budget. While simple foil stamping is relatively inexpensive, especially given the impact it can have, the more complex techniques can be much more costly, and that’s especially true for holographic foils. Stock patterns of holographic foils are relatively reasonable, but making a custom holographic foil can be time consuming and expensive. Although two-dimensional and multiplane holograms can be produced using flat art, stereograms require a film shoot using special equipment. Until recently, true three-dimensional holograms had to be created true-to-size, either from life or from a 1:1 scale model of the object, but now some three-dimensional images can be created with the help of a computer. Depending on the complexity of the project and the type of foil used, lead times for foil stamping can range anywhere from a week to two months or more.

Like embossing, foil stamping requires special care when it comes to design. Type generally appears bolder when foiled, so don’t kern or lead too tightly, and for best results, you should avoid type smaller than 8 point, or those with fine serifs.

Foil stamping presents some unique concerns as well. Type that appears on highly reflective foils can be hard to read, and foil stamps will turn dark when faxed or copied. What’s more, it can be difficult to find a foil that is an exact match for a PMS ink color. Holographic foils can be even trickier. Designers need to consider what will appear on the reverse side of the paper, since large areas of image or color behind a hologram may detract from the holographic effect. And holograms are best viewed under a single light source, not diffused sources like fluorescent lighting.

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