Monday, March 05
Embossing reshapes the surface of paper to make an image stand out from the page, so that it can be felt as well as seen. In effect, the sheet itself becomes the image, offering the print designer another creative dimension.
It is a highly skilled craft, but the technology is simple and has changed little over the years: Using pressure and heat, a male and female metal mould of the image, referred to as the 'die' and 'counter die', force the paper to their shape, creating a physical impression.
Embossing offers a variety of creative options: Firstly, the impression can either be raised (embossed), or pushed into the paper surface (debossed). There is also the style of emboss to consider. A flat die creates a simple, single-level image, a round die produces a curved image, and a bevelled die's sloping sides makes a deeper impression. When a multi-dimensional image is required, a handmade sculptured die must be created.
Embossing is often successfully combined with litho printing or foiling.
It is important to remember that specialist print techniques, such as embossing, are not an off-the-shelf service. Your specification will depend on several varying factors: the image design, the desired effect (the style of die), and the type and weight of paper. So, to realise your vision accurately, always talk to your paper supplier and the team involved in production. But to begin with, we can offer some tips on getting the best result from the process.
In general, bolder, larger designs can be embossed more deeply, and heavier papers allow the greatest depth and detail.
When attempting to emboss typography, a flat die will create the sharpest result. Take care when spacing letterforms – give them room to form.
As a natural result of the process, embossing compresses the surface of the paper. This can be used to good effect on a stock such as Strathmore Grandee, where a satisfying contrast is created between the smooth finish of the image and the texture of the paper.
Oddly, an embossed image has the tendency to appear smaller than a flat image. To compensate for this optical illusion, the artwork is often created at a slightly larger size.
Our final tip is to give the die maker the maximum information possible. Crucially, provide them with a side elevation view of your image or an existing sample of the kind of embossing you envisage.