Print and Finishing Techniques

The main print and finishing techniques in use today are summarised below.

Our print finishing services provide the extra touches to your printing job, protecting the product while setting it apart from the competition.

When it comes to print finishing techniques, it’s down to a combination of personal taste and what you need to achieve. Both gloss or matt lamination will protect your collateral, but each will also deliver a different look and feel.


The print finishing services we offer include:


Ultraviolet (UV) gloss / matt finish

An example of Chilterns spot UV

Can either be used over a whole piece, or used in specific areas (spot UV) to highlight or emphasise. For the best contrast in finishes, spot UV print finishing is typically used with matt laminate.


Foil blocking

An example of Chilterns foil blocking

A very versatile finish available in several colours and in holographic designs. Popular for adding value to brochures, and used extensively on greetings cards.

Foil blocking uses a film which is printed onto a substrate to pick out a logo, name, other wording or an image using pressure and, in some instances, heat. These films are available in a great variety of finishes, including metallic, coloured or hologram. This technique is particularly suitable for enhancing high end and luxury products and Creative Papers again provide the ideal medium for achieving great results.


Embossing / debossing

An example of Chilterns embossing/debossing

Subtly highlights specific areas by adding a 3D effect. Often used with foiling and laminating.

Embossing is the stamping of a design into paper or card to produce a raised effect, whereas blind embossing uses no ink or foil – the design is only visible as a raised area. Debossing, on the other hand, creates a depression rather than an impression.

This technique is used to create shapes that are three-dimensional, impressed or raised. The shapes are created on a wooden or metal plate, known as a die, which is attached to a press. Most printed materials are ‘blind embossed’ which means they are embossed without the use of ink. Some exceptional finishes can be achieved and Creative Papers provide the ideal medium wherever this process is used.


Die Cutting

An example of Chilterns die-cutting

Die Cutting can be used to produce different shapes on most papers & boards (including thicker display boards). Also most pockets for folders and apertures are achieved using this process


Offset Lithography (Litho)

This is the most widely used printing technique, where ink is first deposited onto a metal plate, then transferred to a rubber cylinder (the blanket) before being applied to the paper. Offset Litho printing is generally a four-colour process (cyan, magenta, yellow and black), but can use up to eight colours. Litho printing machines can usually work on the majority of paper and board weights available for this purpose and commercial printers are happy to work with boards up to 400-450gsm. Higher weights can be printed on these machines, but they are normally handled by specialist printers.

Great results can be achieved using this print technique and these can be further enhanced by choosing the right paper to complement your design. Creative Papers, even with their higher cost per sheet, will add that extra something to your creativity and, in the overall cost of a job this may not be as prohibitive as first thought.



An ultra thin film that can be applied to most papers and boards. Available in matt, silk and gloss finishes, lamination acts as a protective barrier for your print – making it the perfect choice if your collateral needs to be durable and withstand a more demanding environment. Also reduces cracking when folding.



This process applies powder to ink whilst it is wet. It is then heated and cured to give a high gloss raised image.

Once the sheets are printed, they are passed through a thermo powder hopper, using a conveyor belt, allowing the powder to stick to the wet ink. Excess powder is removed by vacuum and the sheets continue along the conveyor into an oven where the powder becomes molten. They are then exposed to ultra violet light where curing takes place and drying is instant.

Traditionally, this process has been used for stationery and business cards, but is now being used to produce invitations, product launches and complete corporate imagery across a broad range of communications and selecting the right Creative Paper will further enhance this finish.


Printing over Foil

This very specialised process is a Impression Design and Print speciality – and simply means you can now give sections of your print a metallic, rather than having to pay for the expense of printing your whole piece on mirror board! Not only can you have strategic metallic foil you can then print over this in full colour, giving you stunning visual effects – ask our sales team for samples.



Varnish is a coating which is applied to an offset litho or screen printed sheet to protect the paper and/or give a special finish. It can also be used for aesthetic appeal, including coloured, Braille or glitter finishes.

It is possible to cover only a part of the page, using a ‘spot varnish’ technique, thus emphasising an image, photograph or words – or it can produce an entirely new pattern on a page without the use of other inks. Creative Papers provide the ideal substrate for this technique.


Pearlised Varnish

Again, a Impression Design and Print speciality, we can save you the expense of buying a pearlised board for your complete print run by offering our pearlised varnish option. This also gives you the ability to pick and choose the sections of your print which have the pearlised effect, the rest being printed full colour etc.

Metal FX - MetalFX®

Technology is a revolutionary printing process that can be used to produce hundreds of metallic colours in one pass on a five-colour press. This provides an almost unlimited choice of metallic colours, without the expense of multiple spot inks.


Other services

We can also offer, where necessary, UV glitter varnish, scratch and sniff, scratch-off latex and automatic shrink-wrapping.

It’s worth remembering that all of our print finishing services can have an effect on the colour of your collateral – we’d be happy to consult if time permits, or to supply a test at proof stage.

Top tip - bear in mind that the combination of matt lamination and dark colours tends to highlight imperfections, and is easily scratched – again, we would be happy to discuss.


Get in touch with our sales team should you wish to discuss your requirments: Click here to contact: or call 01423 790108

Share this article