designing for print

Spot UV & 3D effects are very effective in drawing attention to an image, and bringing it to life

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Designing for print embellishment

One of the major advantages of designing and proofing for the JETvarnish 3D is the fact that no plates or screens are required. By eliminating this costly make ready step, the spot UV coating process is greatly simplified and streamlined. It’s easy to spot UV coat just one printed sheet as a proof, a capability never possible with traditional offset or screen spot UV methods. This digital spot UV coating file is what we refer to as a “mask.”

The mask is a separate layer in the original design file (created in Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, etc), which denotes the areas of the image with spot UV highlights. The major benefit to creating the mask within the print file is that it ensures your image & mask will align perfectly. Creating masks in Photoshop is a straightforward six-step process, which can easily be mastered by any designer with an average experience of using the software. However being creative and achieving innovative and stunning visual effects takes practice and a mastery of both the software and the capabilities of the printing process.

Here are some points to keep in mind when preparing masks:

1. Does the coating bead or spread? Since naturally the volume of coating applied is much greater at higher thicknesses (i.e. 100μ), some spreading and globulation will occur when printing finer textures. Best practice: textured or fine detail mask areas should use a lower micron value in order to preserve details that can get lost at thicker levels. If you have areas you want 100μ thick (for example, a solid circle) and then in another spot you want to use a texture (for example, a basketball’s dimples), you would leave the circle area at 100% black to get the desired thickness.

2. Does the surface have lamination or aqueous coating? The type of surface (and surface tension) will affect how the coating beads or spreads. Some substrate surfaces will show spread more than others, most notably in areas without ink on the paper.

3. Is the print digital or offset? If digital, is it dry toner or liquid toner? Inks and toners will also affect how the coating spreads on the surface. Testing of your print material is crucial in order to understand limitations and results. Lower level spot UV (flat) applications may require lamination for some substrate surfaces in order to achieve desired results.

4. From a marketing standpoint: is the mask going to enhance my visual or overpower the entire piece? As mentioned at the beginning of this section, less is more. Along with the abilities to highlight many areas of your design also comes aesthetics. What areas will best enhance the work? What features will add to its appeal but not overpower the message?

Spot UV

Traditionally, spot UV coating (or “flat” UV coating) was used to highlight key elements of a design – and this is still what we recommend. For example, on a book cover, you may want to spot UV the title text and a main portion of the cover image. Or on a corporate brochure, you may want to spot UV the company’s logo. In this case, less really is more, because if you spot UV every element on a page, the important elements will lose the visual impact.

While many designs feature spot UV highlights directly overlaid onto the printed image, it’s also important to consider designs that are blind printed – in other words, they do not directly line up with the image. You can create stunning visual impact by spot UV coating a logo in the background like a watermark, or using other more abstract design elements.

3D Effects

While spot UV coating is very effective in drawing attention to certain elements of an image, the use of 3D effects truly brings images to life. FYI, we consider 3D effects as anything above 20 microns in thickness. As consumers, we know what catches our attention on a shelf or in a display in a store. We are more likely to remember a brand that creates an experience that appeals to our senses and is a tremendously persuasive factor in making a purchasing decision.

An understanding of how the power of touch enhances experiences from the point of a consumer makes it natural to want to bring this same level of connection and recognition into other types of marketing. That’s where the JETvarnish 3D can take print to the next level, adding value to your projects and creating a memorable experience, no matter what your audience.

These are important points to keep in mind as you design your mask with 3D effects, paying special attention to image selection and where you can utilize textures and other tactile effects to engage your audience and make your piece stand out. For example, if you are creating a direct mail piece promoting a golf tournament, you can add 3D effects to a golf ball that allow the audience to feel the dimples, just like on a real golf ball. It’s also important to understand how textures are created through the JETvarnish 3D mask. You essentially have a thickness scale from 0-100%, based on gray scale values. A section of the image that is 100% black will have the highest, most solid thickness of coating, while a section of the image that is, say, 50% black will not be as high. Gradients and texture variations are very helpful here as well.

3D effects: thinking beyond the mask

Like with spot UV coating, effective design can feature not only 3D effects overlaid in registration with the printed image, but blind printed/non-registered as an accent or complement to the printed image. In fact, this technique can be even more effective with 3D effects because of the tactile element. There’s no set guide about when to add these elements to a design. The more creative your designer is, the more you’ll be able to think beyond the design and come up with elements that can truly enhance the image and create a powerful impact for the target audience. As you become more familiar with your JETvarnish 3D and its capabilities, it’ll also be easier to know when these elements are appropriate to integrate.

Textures & Patterns

One of the simplest elements to deliver stunning tactile effects is the use of textures & patterns. From recognizable patterns (leopard, snake,fur, etc) to abstract elements involving dots, lines and other designs, textures can really take a design to a new level of visual and tactile interest. Ideas include using as a background effect or as a watermark over a design, or integrating into the mask over a printed element to draw attention to that element. Text is also a very simple (and low coverage) element that can be very effective in enhancing a design.


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