That’s right folks, we’ve added hot foil stamping to our repertoire of specialty in-house processes.
One of the best things about foil is, unlike our letterpress inks which are transparent, foil is opaque, allowing us to apply a lighter color on a dark background (see this blog post to read about letterpress printing with white inks on black stocks).
As designers we love(!) tiny type, but as printers, we know there are limits to what is realistically achievable. With that in mind we created a set of specimen cards, exploring different type sizes using the two fonts we use for our identity. From the reasonable 11pt type all the way down to the petite 5pt italic Baskerville, the foil held up pretty well, though the fidelity at these sizes can’t always be guaranteed–it’s going to change from typeface to typeface.
With letterpress printing we recommend tracking out your type (at least to 25 or 50) to give room for impression between letters. For foiling we recommend the same, this keeps letterforms from merging into one blobby mess on press.
We found that the metallic foils (gold, silver, copper, etc) released a lot cleaner than some of the pigment foils (colored foils, such as the blue foil shown below). We definitely wouldn’t recommend getting too tiny with the pigment foils.
Local Minneapolis designers Ned Wright and Laura Belle were married a couple months back in a small backyard ceremony. Both being designers, it makes sense that they started their journey as man and wife by collaboratively designing the invitations for their big day.
Comprised of a main invitation card and an additional information card, this wedding suite combines unusual materials and several print processes. The main invitation is an oversized card (7.5″ x 10.5″) of 145 lb French Packing Board we custom duplexed to 100 lb Wausau Royal Complements Eclipse black cover stock. Studio On Fire letterpress printed the text on one side and then sent the piece off for foiling (white and black) on both sides.
The information card was also oversized (10.5″ x 15″) printed on one of our house stocks, Crane Lettra Pearl White 110C. Black ink is used on both sides, with an additional tonal ink used to create visual texture on the outside of the card. Once the card had completed printing it received several score and perforation lines, allowing the RSVP to be separated and returned.
As a special bonus, the couple had a great video made of their wedding weekend that they agreed to share.
Slate Studio in California does some really sharp interactive work. And their business cards are all kinds of Hollywood too. They pulled out all the stops on the card design and we worked with them through the production specs. The stock is our thick 200lb Cover Wausau Eclipse Black. We letterpress printed them with clear varnish on both sides, then a silver ink for the info text. Then they were foil stamped in a bright blue on each side. Finally, they were trimmed to size and edge colored in a matching bright blue.
When we work with designers on projects we have conversations about “production strategy.” Sometimes letterpress is a good fit for the design intent, sometimes not. And often times we combine other production methods to achieve the effect being sought after. Black business cards present a range of production challenges. Flooding a white paper with black ink doesn’t produce fine detail in small type sizes. Here are two projects featuring different ways to print on black paper by combining letterpress with other processes.
Jamie Wickard Card – Designed by our friends at Westwerk Design
This card was produced on black paper stock: Tonal Black letterpress ink and a gloss black FOIL (side 1) and Silver Letterpress (side 2)
Antitdote X Card – Designed by our friends at Antidote X
This card was produced on cream paper stock custom duplexed to black paper stock. (Black letterpress on the cream side and white ENGRAVING on the black side) Then it was finished with custom die cutting.
To achieve fine white type on a black background Engraving is the most premium (and most costly) printing method. By duplexing a black stock rather than printing black ink and reversing out the white we’ve achieved something letterpress and offset printing would not have done well – notice the fine 3 point serif type! White foil and screen printing can print on black, but not with detail like that. Letterpress printing does not do well printing opaque white on dark colored paper and achieving bright opacity either. Like offset printing, opaque white can be laid down with several passes and achieve a mottled looking white – not a bright white. As a rule for general production: only metallic inks have good opacity on dark stocks.
Of course this all combining of production methods comes at a cost. Which comes to a final point – KNOW YOUR CLIENT BUDGET. Our best production advice is to know what your client wants to spend before finalizing your design. If you have an extravagant design with multiple production steps and your client has only a $300 dollar budget, you’ve just wasted design time on something they can not afford to produce. But if you plan production along side design, you can present your client an option that doesn’t need rounds of compromise. That is what “production strategy” is all about.