Amp Up the Texture

Brought to you by Neenah

How’d They Do That?
Amp up the texture with foil stamping and embossing.

Embossing 1

Printing, embossing and foil stamping, oh my! There’s so much to look at on this piece. Where do we begin? We asked Scott Gasch of Fey Printing to show-and-tell us how they produced this complex piece that features two foil stamps with a registered emboss on the front and metallic ink on the back.

Neenah emboss

A Key Factor

According to Gasch, the paper is a key factor when it comes to a design this complex. The paper and the printing techniques must all work together to successfully create the designer’s vision. This sample, which can be found in The Design Collection Soft Touch swatchbook, is printed on Neenah PLIKE®, Red, a soft touch paper known for its unique, smooth feel, as well as for its ability to beautifully handle any print technique that can add texture to the finished piece.

Embossing 3


The front of this piece included three press passes. Gasch says the gold foil was laid down first. With the pressman’s expert management of the foil release, you can see how he was able to achieve a clean release resulting in smooth solids, fine lines and sharp edges.

Emboss and foil samples

The Foil Stamp

The next step was to foil stamp the inside areas that registered to the gold outlines. Because the designer intended this area to create a subtle sheen that would highlight the color of the paper, the original thought was to use a clear foil. Carrie Otto, Print Production Manager, Neenah, says sometimes Plan A works best when you go to Plan B. Otto worked with Fey Printing to test different foil samples, looking at how each worked against the gold that was already done, as well as with the color of the paper. Here you see sample runs of foils in a pearlized gloss, metallic red, pigment red, and clear.

embossing 5

Ultimately the experiments lead the team to choose the red pigment foil. Otto says not only is it a stunning effect, but it is the exact vision the designer had in mind.

Embossing 2

The registration of the red foil to the gold foil is so precise, you almost have to do a double take to realize there is a second foil in the design. What’s the secret of precision registration? A skilled pressman, an experienced make ready and the paper. The make ready is the time the pressman uses before the project run to set up and test the job, making sure everything is in alignment, colors are on target, etc. He’ll then monitor these things as the job is running, trusting that the paper he’s received is cut square and precise. If the paper isn’t accurate it could shift the registration during the run. Again, take a look at that registration, the red foil is perfectly positioned within the gold foil.

embossing 6

Add the Embossing

Just when you think you’re done being impressed by the registration… enter the emboss, which creates a whole new registration ballgame. The embossing creates dimension with circles that pop up out of only the red foil areas. If you look closely you might think the gold pressed down to flatten areas of the circles underneath, however embossing is always done after foil stamping. Gasch says it’s important to pay close attention to the pressure of the die so it doesn’t go too deep and risk cracking the foil.

embossing 7

As you can see when we turn this piece over, the fun doesn’t stop. On the flip side you see not only a solid hit of PMS 871 popping off the bright red, but you also see the impression of the emboss pattern.

embossing 8

When it comes to the depth of the impression you’ll see from an emboss, it’s generally a “get-what-you-get” type of science. Gasch says it can depend on the paper and the pressure of the die. You can ask your printer to back off, or push the pressure a little, but only to the point where it won’t compromise the emboss or the structure of the paper.

embossing 9

Texture Everywhere

What’s so remarkable about this piece, which at first glance might look simple, is the precision that went into creating it. There are amazing registers everywhere. And there’s texture everywhere, front and back. The paper has its own unique touch, the foil adds a smooth look and feel, and the emboss adds dimension. Gasch says PLIKE® lends itself perfectly to any designs that are looking to create a highly textural sensation.

When working with foils your pressman is a valuable resource. Vast knowledge of the product and years of experience working with papers and foils can help predict any potential concerns. For instance, if a foil isn’t releasing properly from your specified paper, the pressman might try changing the foil manufacturer. Colors are typically interchangeable across the various manufacturers, yet some tend to work better on different papers. Not something a designer needs to be concerned about, but something you should rely on your printer to address on your behalf.

Neenah papers

Neenah’s PLIKE® Papers have a unique, soft touch surface that prints beautifully and offers a tactile sensation on its own. Adding specialty techniques can create a multi-dimensional experience. PLIKE® Papers are part of The Design Collection portfolio.

Neenah papers 2

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