Tuesday, 30 October 2012


  • Varnish: is essentially a clear ink that can be applied in a variety of thicknesses over print. On the most basic level it improves the durability of your print, preventing the ink from rubbing off and keeping the paper or card from wrinkling or tearing, but as we’ll see below it can also be used to achieve some awesome visual and textural effects.
  • Finish: is any effect that’s applied to your print after it’s been produced. That could be an all over varnish, a spot varnish, foil-blocking, or die-cuts (all of which I’m sure we’ll get to in a later post!)
  • Spot: is used to indicate that a finish is only going to be applied to certain areas(or spots) of the total printed area.
  • UV: is the thickest varnish available, and is most often used to make your print look really glossy and vivid.
Spot UV is a high-gloss finish applied to a specific area of your print, as in the example below:
What we’ve got here is a piece of packaging that’s been printed on a matt varnished card stock before having a Spot UV varnish applied over part of the logo. As you can see, it creates a striking balance between the main body of the box and the logo which instantly grabs the eye. For simple images like this applying a Spot UV varnish can be a great way of increasing the visual impact of your print.


Although Spot UV draws attention elements of your design, and should be thought about when you’re starting your design work, you should remember that it’s not a part of the design per se. Rather, it’s a post-printing operation which can, like any other coating, be applied ‘online’ (immediately after the ink is applied to the stock) or ‘offline’ (on a separate machine, some time after the printing job has been done). In either case it’s an intricate process – as your printers will have to supply their machine with information on the exact spots to apply the varnish. It’s essentially a tooling job, and you should bear this in mind when deciding whether or not to go for it. A more general gloss coating, whether UV or not, will cost considerably less as there’s so much less information to be supplied.
Spot UV’s can’t be added to artwork by your designer – although they will create the guides that the printers will use to apply the varnish –and require your printer to call into play a specialist piece of machinery (which blasts the varnish with UV light to dry it out). As both designer and printer will be doing more work and, in the case of the printer, using an expensive bit of kit to give you the effect you’re after you should expect the price you pay to inflate accordingly. For this reason it’s worth thinking in detail about the purpose of your print before you opt for a Spot UV – is it really going to be worth it on flyer printing or poster printing? Probably not, as they’re intended to be read for the information – with the aim of drumming up support, attendence or business – and then discarded. Something that you expect your audience to return to again and again, on the other hand – your business card, your company’s annual report, the prospectus for your school or something similar – well, that might be worth the extra expense…
The main drawback is going to be cost. Prices increase according to complexity, rather than the amount of space the varnish covers.

No comments:

Post a Comment