Folder Design Inspiration to Unlock Your Creativity

Special Advertising Note: The following sponsored content is provided by one of HOW’s partners, Company Folders.

Everyone finds artistic inspiration in something different—it might be a person you admire, a song on the radio, or even the Sunday funnies. Though those ideas might show up when you least expect them, there are also ways to proactively seek them out. We’ve assembled some inspirational resources and things to consider when designing presentation folders. Use them if you run into “artist’s block” or simply want your folder design to turn some heads.


Die Cut Inspiration

The medium your folder design is printed on – in this case, the shape of the paper stock – is every bit as important as the content of the imprint itself. People are so used to seeing things printed on standard 9 by 12 rectangles that when they come across something that breaks the mold, it makes a serious impact.

Die cuts can help draw extra attention to a particular aspect of your design (like the company logo) or even give your audience an instantly recognizable symbol of your industry or business. For example, you might choose to cut marketing collateral for a locksmith into the shape of a keyhole. For truly creative die cuts, explore these potential sources of inspiration.
One way to find inspiration for new die cut styles is to explore products already being sold. Many commercial printers make die cut templates for their presentation folders freely available, so you can easily download and deconstruct them to develop entirely new shapes.

Serpentine Cut Right Pocket Presentation Folder

This presentation folder features a unique, eye-catching serpentine-shaped die cut for a look that makes the recipient do a double take.

Center Pocket Gatefold Presentation Folder

Folders that open from the center tend to be a little more engaging because they’re more likely to evoke the feeling of “entering” a space.

Left Tuck Tab Flap 2 Pocket Presentation Folder

A tuck tab can help to keep a folder’s contents secure. With this particular design, it also helps to replicate the look of a toolbox to better represent the brand.

Design Galleries

Sometimes the best place to find artistic inspiration is among your fellow artists. Online galleries are a great source of cool die-cut designs, and you can sort by style, imprint method, and other categories to find the type of artwork you really love.

If you like what you see here, be sure to browse other Folder Design Gallery artwork. And keep in mind that if you want to attract potential employers and lend legitimacy to your own work, submitting to design galleries is an excellent way to gain exposure.

ADeX Engineering Corporate Folder

ADex’s folder pocket is die-cut at the corner to complement the geometric, constellation-inspired design.

Legends of Rock’n Roll Pocket Folder

The pocket of this music-based folder is cut into a unique shape that conforms to the CD inserted inside.

MR Systems Die-Cut Pocket Folder

MR Systems’ corporate presentation folder emphasizes their brand with foil stamping and a die cut outline around the letters in their logo.

From the Web

Some of the coolest die cuts you’ll ever find are just a search away. Sites like Behance and even simple Google Image searches can open the door to some truly inspiring designs. Try searching for phrases like “unique folder die cuts,” “folder die cut designs,” or “cool die cut folders.”

Interbay Folder – Wil Lucero

With its dramatically curved panels and pocket, Interbay’s corporate folder uses repetition to catch the interest of its audience.

Costablanca by Metro – Maria Rosa Baquero

To emphasize the natural beauty of the resort it promotes, this folder’s outer flap is cut into the shape of delicate leaves.

Clark Planetarium – Carolyn Crowley

The pockets of this folder for a planetarium are cut into round shapes, outlining the surface of heavenly bodies.

Tactile Texture Inspiration

There’s a reason we say that we feel “touched” when something deeply affects us emotionally—because it’s the sense we use when we’re interacting with something on the most intimate level possible. Touch is also the sense most closely tied to memory, so giving your folder a distinctive tactile effect is a great way to make it stick in the recipient’s mind. There are a couple different ways to make this happen.
Paper stocks come in a wide variety of styles and colors. Using a different stock can give your folder a very different textural effect. Some of the most popular stocks include:

• Smooth: flat, standard paper with low luster
• Linen: woven, thread-like texture
•  Vellum: slightly rough texture
• Felt: feels similar to pressed fabric
• Cordwain: wrinkled,leather-like texturepaper-stocks-close-up-photos
You don’t necessarily need to have your design printed on an actual stock sample to see how it will look visually. Try experimenting with different types of paper stock images and applying them to your own design.


Coating finishes make your folder more durable and can also give it radically different qualities (especially when it comes to reflectivity), depending on which coating you choose.

• High Reflectivity: Aqueous Gloss, Plastic Gloss Lamination
• Intermediate Reflectivity: Aqueous Satin
• Low Reflectivity: Aqueous Matte, Aqueous Soft-Touch, Plastic Matte Lamination

Most coatings give your folder a smooth feel, but aqueous soft-touch is your best choice if you want the paper to have a more unique, velvety texture. If you want your folder to be highly durable and stand up to extreme wear-and-tear, stick with lamination. Take a look at folder designs that employ spot coating for more inspiration.

Imprint Inspiration

The imprint method you choose will largely determine the type of design your folder can sustain, including color, imagery, and maybe even something your recipient can reach out and feel with their hands. It’s well worth your time to establish the imprint method you plan to work with and peruse other designs that employ that method.
Four Color Process
Using CMYK inks, four color process printing allows for a full spectrum of color, making it ideal (and cost-effective) for designs that employ photographs or multicolored artwork. Four color process does has certain drawbacks, however; it’s not the best choice for accurately reproducing certain colors, such as orange, grey, and navy blue.

BevShots Art Presentation Folder

BevShots turns microscopic photographs of alcohol into beautiful works of art. Their presentation folder actually features a multichromatic example of one of these photographs, accented with their stylish company logo.

Sandy Cameron Music CD Presentation Folder

This folder was made to promote a talented violinist, so it prominently features a gorgeous, high-end photograph of the musician herself.

Curve Dental Branded Presentation Folder

Curve Dental’s folder uses “superhero” imagery and detailed text to communicate the value of their web-based software.

You can find more four color process designs in the Folder Design Gallery, or try searching Google for “full color folders.”

PMS Spot Color
With pools of pre-mixed color, PMS is a cost-effective imprint method that usually features between one and three hues (as well as tints or shades of those colors). When your design needs to match brand colors (or when you simply want the colors to be deep and vibrant), this imprint method is usually the best option.

Skybridge Lofts Presentation Folder

This folder design reinforces Skybridge Lofts’ reputation as an “open space community” with an ethereal two-color cloud pattern. Inside is a broad field of bright green that emphasizes the company logo.

Laura Zindel Fine Art CD/DVD Presentation Folder

Laura Zindel’s presentation folder features examples of her elegant designs subtly imprinted into the background with a beige, vintage-style color scheme.

New York Life Presentation Folder

For a subtle, understated look, this folder design for an investment management company makes use of gray PMS ink on white stock (along with a custom die-cut window and a white foil stamp).

Lighthouse Escrow Financial Document Folder

The contrast between neutral gray and electric yellow helps to accentuate Lighthouse’s logo and makes the left and right pockets on this folder’s interior stand out.

For more examples of spot color inspiration, check out some PMS folder designs.


Embossing lifts up the shape of your design directly from the structure of the stock, while debossed designs are pushed down into it. Embossed and debossed designs can be combined with printing (either PMS or four color process) or be imprinted “blind,” with nothing printed over them. Use this imprint method when you want to engage your audience tactilely as well as visually.

Gnomon School of Visual Effects Folder

An embossed lava creature practically jumps off the cover of this highly ambitious presentation folder for a visual effects school.

Aviara Life Stitched Brochure Folder

Aviara’s business folder uses a simple blind embossed logo for a humble and muted look. The overall effect is delicate and classy without seeming pretentious.

MAD Pocket Folder

Though the interior of this folder makes use of an interesting printed pattern, the front cover is blind embossed for a more subtle appearance that encourages the recipient to look closer.

Alexan Fairmount Branding

Alexan’s folder design is blind embossed into black stock for higher readability, and the understated effect contrasts nicely with the full color contents inside.

Check out more embossed folder designs in the gallery.


Foil Stamping
With this imprint method, your design is stamped into the stock with either metallic or non-metallic foil. This allows for folders with a shockingly shiny element or a more subtle, smooth textural effect. You can also combine foil stamping with embossing for a luxurious but cost-effective look that won’t break your budget.
Planet Pictures Media Presentation Folder

To signify the flash and glamour of Hollywood, Planet Pictures stamped their logo in foil in glittery silver metallic foil.

The Villas at Cortez Realtor Presentation Folder

The Villas at Cortez Sunnyvale has an ornate tree logo that perfectly complements the elegant platinum metallic foil it’s imprinted with.

William Jewell College Custom Made Folder

This folder is imprinted with black non-metallic foil on black stock, so the name of the college only stands out when the light catches it just right; it’s a subtle but striking effect.

Be sure to check out other foil stamped designs in the Folder Design Gallery.

Cool Extras

Sometimes all a folder design needs is a bit of an accent to tie the whole thing together. Though many of these extras serve functional purposes (like keeping the contents of the folder organized and secure), they can be used in unusual and imaginative ways.
Folder Inserts

stepped-insertsStepped inserts allow you to include documents in your folder that the recipient can easily scan; there’s no need to dig behind the materials in front searching for the ones you really need. Get more details about stepped folder inserts if you want to use them with your marketing collateral.

Spine Attachments
spine-attachmentsThis add-on increases a pocket folder’s capacity by giving it the capabilities of a three-ring binder. The paper portion of spine attachments can be either white or the color of the folder stock itself, so you’ve got a bit of flexibility depending on what works best with your design.


Stitched Brochures
Though you can usually insert a brochure into your folder’s pockets without much issue, you may want to stitch it directly into the spine of the folder.stitched-brochures
This stylistic choice gives the brochure extra visual weight. Like the pages of a book, it’s practically unavoidable once the folder is opened.

Add Velcro to your folder to make it more secure and less likely to open during transport. Since the placement of custom Velcro add-ons is up to you, you’ve got control over how they complement your printed design.velcro

If you feel like your folder still needs a little something extra, check out other cool add-ons to enhance your folder artwork.

Do you have other tips or resources for finding inspiration for engaging presentation folders or other marketing materials? Please share you thoughts with us. 

For even more paper inspiration, check out the Paper Folding Kit




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