Finishing includes a wide range of processes to provide he finishing touches to a design once the substrate has been printed. These processes include die cutting, binding, special print techniques, laminates, varnishes, folding, foil blocking and screen printing, all of which can transform an ordinary-looking piece into something much more interesting and dynamic.
Finishing processes can add decorative elements to a printed piece, such as the shimmer of a foil block or the texture of an emboss. They can also provide added functionality to a design and even be a constituent part of a publication's format, for example, a matt lamination protects a substrate, making it last longer.
Although the application of print-finishing techniques signals the end of the production process, these techniques should not be considered as afterthoughts, but as an integral part of a design at the planning stage.
Binding is a process through which the various pages that comprise a job are gathered and securely held together that they function as a publication.
Types of binding;
Many different types of binding are available and they all have different durability, aesthetics, costs and functional charateristics.
The binding method chosen for a publication can add to the narrative of the information it contains. For example, a case binding lends a more formal tone to a work while a perfect binding is more informal and disposable.
Clips and bolts;
Case or edition binding;
Bookbinding involves a variety of processes to produce a finished book. The various sections that form the book block are either stitched or glued to hold them together. The book block may then be shaped or curved.
The dust jacket spine measurement need to take into account the book block bulk, which depends upon the number of signatures, with addition of 3mm for the boards. As a rule, the spine will measure whatever the bulking dummy measures, plus an additional 6-7mm.
Flaps are an extension of the cover, or the dust jacket , which fold back and into the publication. These usually carry information about the aurthor, a synopsis on the work, or other information, and can be any size in theory, although 75mm is considered optimum for a dust jacket to grip the book.
These are the pages that secure the text block to the boards of the cover. They are typically made from a strong stock such as a cartridge paper. They may also be printed to add a visual element to the inside cover.
Spine text can be oriented to read top to bottom or bottom to top. In Europe, the standard is usually to read bottom to top, created by research studios. In the UK, however, spine text usually reads top to bottom so that when a book is laid on a table both the spine and the cover are readable, created by social design. This alignment is also easier for most people to read when publication are kept in a bookcase. Spine text can also be printed horizontally although this usually occurs on larger, wider volumes that provide a broader measure.
A range of techniques, such as specialty printing, give a designer the possibility of adding an extra touch of value-adding excitement to a design.
A number of print techniques allow a designer to produce something different to what standard offset lithography can produce. These techniques may be more expensive due to the additional set-up time required and lower volumes they can produce, but they certainly add value to a design.
Perforation, or perf cutting, is a process that creates a cut-out area in a substrate to weaken it so that it can be detached, or it is used to create a decorative effect.
Duplexing is the bonding of two stocks to form a single substrate with different colours or textures on each side.
Foil blocking is a process whereby a coloured foil is pressed on to a substrate via a heated die. Also called foil stamp, heat stamp or foil emboss, the process allows the designer to add a shiny finish specific design elements such as title text.
Thermography is a print-finishing process that produces raised lettering by fusing thermographic powder to a design in an oven.
Embossing or debossing is a design that is stamped into a substrate to produce a decorative raised or indented surface respectively. An emboss uses a magnesium, copper or brass die holding on image to stamp the stock and leave an impression. As the design has to push through the stock, designs are usually slightly oversized, with heavier lines and extra space inserted between the letters in a word. Copper and brass are more durable die materials than magnesium and so should be used for the high print run jobs, tose using thick or abrasive stocks and those where the design is more detailed.
Thinner stocks can hold more detail than thicker stocks, but intricate designs do not reproduce well. Thicker stocks generally require thicker lines to reproduce well as the image has to press through more fibres. Soft papers are easier to emboss and coated stocks hold detail well, but the coating may crack, meaning that uncoated stock is better for deep embossing. An emboss may be made with foil to give colouration to the design, but they are frequently made blind without the use of foil to add a tactile element to a design.
Embossing or debossing is a design that is stamped into a substrate to produce a decorative raised or indented surface respectively. Deboss uses a metal dye containing a design, which is stamped from above on to stock to leave an indentation. Debossing also produces better results on thicker stock because a deeper indentation is achieved. The ability of an emboss or deboss to leave a good impression is a function of the fineness of the design and the stock calliper. Thinner stocks can hold finer lines, but there is a danger of puncturing the stock. Thicker stocks are more robust, but lose fine detail as the design presses through more paper fibres.
Die, laser and kiss cutting are all methods for removing portions of stock to create different shapes.
Die cutting uses a steel die to cut away a specified section of a design. It is mainly used to add a decorative element to a print job and enhance the visual performance of the piece.
Laser cutting uses a laser to cut shapes into the stock rather then use a mental tool. Laser cutting can produce more intricate cut-outs with a cleaner edge than a steel die although the heat of the laser burns the cut edge. Faster set-up times mean faster job turnaround.
This is a die cutting method often used with self-adhesive substrates, whereby the face stock is die cut but not its backing sheet, to facilitate the easy removal of the cut stock. Kiss cutting is commonly seen in the production of stickers. The artwork supplied for kiss cutting needs to include a cutter guide as shown below right. A common form of kiss cut is called Crack-Back, which is a brand produced by Fasson.
Laminates and Varnishes;
Laminates ans varnishes are print finishes applied to the printed job to add a finishing touch to the surface.
A laminate is a layer of plastic coating that is heat-sealed on to the stock to produce a smooth and impervious finish and to provide a protective layer to cover stock. A varnish is a colourless coating, applied to a printed piece to protect it from wear or smudging, and to enhance the visual appearance of the design or elements within it, such as a spot varnish.
Types of varnish;
Colours appear richer and more vivid when printed with a gloss varnish, so photographs appear sharper and more saturated. For this reason, a gloss finish is often used for brochures or other photographic publications.
The application of a basic, almost invisible, coating that seals the printing ink without affecting the appearance of the job. It is often used to accelerate the drying of fast turnaround print jobs (such as leaflets) on matt and satin papers, on which inks dry more slowly.
Matt (or dull);
The opposite of a gloss varnish, a matt coating will soften the appearance of a printed image. It will also make text easier to read as it diffuses light, thus reducing glare.
A varnish that subtly reflects myriad colours to give a luxurious effect.
Satin (or silk);
This coating tends to represent a midway point between gloss and matt varnishes.
Textured spot UV;
Textures can be applied to a design through the use of a spot UV. The textures that can be obtained are sandpaper, leather, crocodile skin and raised.
An ultraviolet varnish can be applied to printed paper and dried by exposure to UV radiation in order to create a coating that is glossier that any other. A printed page with this varnish will feel shiny and slightly sticky. UV varnish can be applied all over a publication (full-bleed UV) or to certain parts of a design (spot UV).
Types of laminate;
A matt laminate helps diffuse light and reduce glare to increase the readability of text-heavy designs.
This laminate provides a finish that is between matt and gloss. It provides some highlight, but is not as flat as matt.
A highly reflective laminate that is used to enhance the appearance of graphic elements and photographs on covers as it increases colour saturation.
A laminate that creates a subtle sand grain within a design.
A laminate that gives a subtle leather texture to a design.
Folding and Trimming;
Folding encompasses a range of different methods for turning a printed sheet into a more compact form or signature.
Types of fold;
The majority of folding techniques make use of the basic valley and mountain folds to create a series of peaks and troughs.
Front/back accordion fold;
Harmonica self-cover folder;
Mock book fold;
Triple parallel fold;
Half cover from behind;
Staggered folder design;