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Enhance Your Print with Unique Print Techniques: Finishing Effects & Elements

Finishing techniques are added to the print post-press to make it more attractive and eye-catching. These techniques can include unique elements such as embossing, debossing, foil stamping, die-cutting, UV coating, varnishing, lamination, and thermography. These finishing techniques can help to highlight a text headline or graphic element in the print.

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Greeting card made with foiling.

Embossing and Debossing

Embossing is a raised or etched design on paper or another substrate. Embossing makes designs or text look almost three-dimensional. There are three types of embossing: registered embossing, blind embossing, and combination embossing.

· Registered embossing uses ink or foil to create a raised and textured design.

· Blind embossing does not use ink or color; it leaves an impression on the substrate.

· Combination embossing is when embossing and foil stamping are done simultaneously.

Embossing is often used for print media such as official documentation, certificates, diplomas, special invites, cards, folders, etc.

Debossing is the opposite of embossing. Debossing is typically used for text or logos. It is used to depress or indent the selected element on a page, having the same effect as embossing, to highlight the element.

Foil Stamping

Foil stamping makes a print project look more luxurious and sophisticated. There are two types of foil stamping: hot and cold.

· Hot foil stamping combines heat, pressure, and metallic paper to create a shining impression that enhances print.

· A more modernized approach to foil stamping is cold foil stamping. Instead of relying on temperature, cold foil stamping uses UV light.

Foil stamping can be used on brochures, invitations, labels, and other promotional materials. The foiling adds a shine or reflection to the treated element, to make the printed piece more unique or sophisticated.

Die Cutting

Die cutting is used to create custom shapes and designs on paper or other substrates. A die is a shaped steel tool used to cut through materials to make the desired design. Geometric, organic, edge, and pockets are just a few examples of die cut types.

Die cutting is commonly used for stickers and magnets, but can also be used for flyers, business cards, or any print media that you want to be recognizable by a specific shape or design.

UV Coating

UV coating is a clear coat that can be used for numerous reasons: to bring a clear or pearlescent glossy sheen to a print, to enhance the colors of the ink, and to protect against wear and tear on the substrate. UV coating works by applying a liquid coat to the substrate and is then cured by using a UV light.

UV coating is often used to make photos or logos stand out, and to protect them against damage. UV coating is not waterproof, but it is water-resistant. UV coating is usually a less expensive alternative to lamination, with similar results.

Varnishing (gloss, matte, silk)

Varnishes can be applied to a specific area (spot varnish) or to an entire piece (flood varnish). Varnishes can be used as a protectant to create a gloss, matte, or silk look. Using a varnish finish can give a print a perceived higher quality or value. Varnishing is a cheaper alternative to UV coating but offers less protection. Varnishing is a good finish option for brochures and magazines.


Lamination is the most common finishing technique. Lamination can make a print project look professional and high-quality while protecting it against damage.

Lamination is very similar to UV coating. Lamination works by adding a plastic film that acts as a protective layer, improves sturdiness, and makes the print water-resistant. Laminate can either be glossy or matte and is ideal for prints such as booklets, presentations, posters, or signage.


Thermography combines offset printing ink with powdered resin to give the ink a raised and textured effect. The raised and textured effect is very eye-catching. Various thermographic powders give different finishes to print. The three most popular are metallic, glitter, and fluorescent. Thermographic printing is more cost-effective, compared to embossing or engraving, and is often used for business cards, stationary, and invitations.

All these finishing techniques can be used to enhance the design of print projects and utilizing unique print techniques like these can help improve the perception of your brand.

In need of unique print-finishing services? Contact Omega to get started on your print project today!

Written by Omega High-Impact Print Solutions’ Marketing Intern, Ava Hoch.


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