the printing guide
Paper choices and printing techniques are very important components to designing invitations and stationery, each method has it's place in design, history and a client's budget so I am here to define the options and explain the pros and cons of each to help you better understand what would work best for you.
Also an older printing technique which unlike engraving which is fading into the background, letterpress has risen to the top. A metal or plastic plate is created and pressed into the paper creating a de-bossed effect. The deeper the impression on a thick cotton card the better the impression on your guests.
PROS: You can print on a variety of papers in several textures, the most common is cotton rag and you can use double thick paper for an amazing feel in your guest's hands.
CONS: Each color adds to the cost as it requires a new plate for every color. Large areas of color will not print smoothly so it's not recommended for such application. Metallic inks will not have a true metallic look as they are typically absorbed by the paper.
This is a time honored method of printing and is hands down the most traditional and formal. A custom metal plate is created with the exact design of your invitation or reply card, etc. and it is pressed firmly into cotton paper creating a raised ink effect on the letters and characters of your card. The signature cloud effect, which is a flattening of the soft fibers of the paper, will be left around the letters.
PROS: You can use engraving to print lighter inks on darker paper. The quality of the printing is impeccable and the paper required is always a softer luxurious cotton so your invitations will have a very regal feel. Engraving is great on thick papers.
CONS: It's expensive, the most expensive method actually. The paper and plate are expensive and every time you add a color it gets even more expensive. Most recipients will not know enough about printing or wedding invitations to appreciate it.
Foil printing is everywhere right now, specifically gold foil. It's a beautiful way of adding shine to your invitations and stationery. A sandwich is created with a roll of foil, your invitation paper and a metal plate above it, the plate is pressed onto the foil which is then pressed onto the paper.
PROS: Metallic inks like gold and silver have a true shiny effect and you can even use several other metallic colors including a holographic 80's rainbow if that's your thing. But there are plenty of matte foil colors you can choose from as well. All foil printing is great on dark paper and in some cases it's the only option for printing a color on darker paper.
CONS: There's no color matching and your limited to choosing from a range of colors. It is also more costly than most printing methods because of the custom plates required and labor.
Often referred to as "poor man's engraving," thermography is a printing technique that uses ink and powder which is heated on the surface of your paper to create a raised ink effect. If you love engraving but don't love the cost, this is the way to go.
PROS: We can match colors seamlessly so the sky is the limit. The raised effect creates a rich feel to your invitations.
CONS: More colors increase the cost like many other methods because each color requires a new pass through the press. Also the ink is slightly transparent so it's not used on darker papers. It's not a great choice for large areas as the ink can crack if not handled correctly.
When we do any flat printing it is either digital or offset printing. We typically choose what will work best for each project based on the design and budget of our clients.
PROS: We can color match very precisely and offset printing is great for filling large areas of color
CONS: Slightly more costly than digital printing
PROS: We can print as many colors as you'd like! Gradients look great and we can cover large areas with color. And the cost is lower than any other form of printing.
CONS: Very precise color matching can be difficult, you can only print on thinner paper stocks.
The most time honored paper choice steeped in tradition. Cotton papers have a luxurious texture and come in various thicknesses and shades of white and various light pastel shades. They are prefect for engraving and letterpress as the soft nature of the paper take impressions beautifully.
Super versatile, smooth papers can be perfect for thermography, flat printing and foil printing. Smooth papers are available in countless colors and thicknesses.
I find clients cower a bit when I say metallic but I always define it by saying like a shimmer not like a disco ball. Metallic papers are available in a wide range of colors and they appear to be slightly glittery at different angles. Newer papers are developed all the time and truely shiny metallic papers are on the rise, not necessarily suited for printing but layering or lining envelopes. Shimmery metallic papers work best with flat printing methods.
Duplex is a term that describes ywo pieces of paper being sandwiched together to create a thicker sheet. Typically duplexed papers are two different colors sandwiched together to create a different colored front and back but you can also sandwich a colored paper in between 2 white sheets to create a collared detail around the edge. Or you can have two papers of the same color duplexed just to create a thicker paper.
Ultrathick is a term I use to describe any invitation printed on a duplexed paper or paper that is two times the thickness of a standard paper.