Using Foil to Highlight Surface Design

Posted inColor & Design
Thumbnail for Using Foil to Highlight Surface Design

Special Advertising Note: The following sponsored content is brought to you courtesy of Neenah, one of PRINT’s trusted partners.

Neenah has just released a new promotional lookbook. It’s a book about surface design, showing how conceptual aesthetics, through lines, texture, color, light, and patterning, can allure, intrigue and provoke both hand and eye.

Here’s a quick tour of the sumptuous 30+-page, 8.5 x 10.75 in. lookbook: The Design Collection Surface Issue.

Now, being fans of specialty techniques, we noticed the foil stamping that is spotlighted throughout the book. And, with the help of Scott Gasch, President, Fey Printing, (the shop that printed the book) we decided to take a deeper dive into the idea of using foil stamping as a design element.

Foil stamping uses a heated metal die to permanently apply metallic or pigmented foil onto a substrate. Though it is sometimes compared to embossing because the pressure of the metal die can leave an impression in thicker papers, the two are different techniques.

Foil stamping partners well with most printing processes and this book is a great example of that. The cover of The Design Collection Surface Issue pairs foil with embossing. Gasch says the correct scoring rule and matrix width ensured the thin metallic gold foil lines didn’t break when the emboss was added and didn’t crack over the spine during the binding process.

Foil stamping is beautifully suited for use on colored papers, as from The Design Collection. The contrast between a high gloss or metallic foil on a tactile sheet creates an immediate impact, and the hundreds of foil choices make it easy to find options to complement the paper.

Before you specify a foil color, Gasch suggests talking to your printer. The only way to get an actual proof of your design is to purchase the die and pay for a press set up. This can be a costly experiment. Ask your printer if it’s possible to test your foil and paper selections using an existing die.

This flysheet is EAMES™, 50 Text. If you’re using a stock this light and with this much texture, talk to your printer about your design. Foil can be successful on a wide range of paper weights — typically between 90pt board to tissue paper —but thinner sheets can be tricky to stamp with heavy coverage. It’s important to use the correct foil release, one that won’t warp or tear the sheet.

What might seem like a simple graphic treatment can often be the element that highlights the design. Gasch says when choosing artwork to be foil stamped, go with vector artwork versus raster imagery because you need the layers.

A closer look here shows how the silver foil rules visually highlight the texture of the paper.

On the left, strands of a magenta holographic foil shine against the natural tone of OXFORD®, Path. Gasch warns designers against trying to achieve a gradient design with foil and instead suggests looking at holographic foils as a way to add dimension and color change into a foil stamped area.

Foil treatments, unconventional diecuts, colored papers and unique textures are combined here to create a dynamic, dimensional spread.

How large of an area that can be foil stamped depends on many factors including the design, the paper, the type of foil being used, and the press it’s running on. While it is possible to successfully foil stamp large areas, it’s important to discuss the many variables with your printer before you plan your design. Here we see a 6” tall solid metallic copper foil complementing the STARDREAM®, Copper paper. Together, they frame the shimmery image underneath.

A chic metallic red foil highlights the vibrant SO…SILK®, Beauty Pink paper used for this lipstick box.

How thin a line or how small you can go with type depends on the paper and the font. Gasch recommends using minimum guidelines of 1/3 pt. for lines and 7pt. type, especially if it’s a serif font. These guidelines can change, depending on the design or the paper — deeper textured stocks might require larger type to ensure legibility. Here Neenah used a 3/4pt. rule and went down to a 5pt. type, which looks pretty good to us!

Foil can also be used to create an all over surface pattern. Here we see a creative use of a diecut fly sheet with four-color imagery and an all over foil pattern that runs the entire height of the book.

A close up shows how these 1pt. rules of metallic gold add geometric patterning to a four-color image on PLIKE®, Orange.

Gasch notes that while some finely detailed designs can be foil stamped with success, it is possible for highly detailed areas or fonts that are tracked or kerned too tightly to fill in. Discussing your designs and your paper selections with your printer at the start of the project is wise.

One of the things you can always count on from Neenah is the desire to provide designers with a head start for every new project. If you’re thinking about using foil stamping, the detailed production notes in this lookbook tell you what colors were used and what company they came from, so if you see anything you’d like to try, you’re already off
and running!

Get a free copy of The Design Collection: Surface Issue, valued at $14.99, through your Neenah rep or your local merchant. Find a Neenah distributor here.

Related: Designing for Designers: A Color Story | Booklet by Willoughby Design Showcases 6 Classic Typefaces