How to Pick the Best Imprint Method for Your Project

Creating a new design takes a lot of work, so naturally, you want your piece to look its best once it’s printed. But that’s tough to do if you don’t know which imprint method to use for which projects. You need to brush up on your printing know-how if you want to accomplish great-looking designs.

This basic guide to imprint methods will teach you how four of the most popular imprint methods work, as well as which color and paper options complement each of them.

Four color process

You might know four color process by its other name, CMYK. It mixes four colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) to create a whole spectrum of custom ink colors. CMYK colors can vary between printers. You should use them if your design:

  • Includes lots of colors, photos, or details
  • Doesn’t need exact color matching
  • Uses a light colored paper stock, as dark stocks can make the ink look washed out

PMS printing

PMS, or spot, printing creates designs using over 1,500 premixed inks that are part of the Pantone Matching System. You should use this method if your design:

  • Needs exact color matching
  • Uses 1-3 colors, as more colors may not be cost-effective compared to CMYK
  • Uses a light colored paper stock, as dark stocks can make the ink look washed out

Foil stamping

Foil stamping uses heat and pressure to seal a thin layer of foil onto the design, so it works with any color of stock since the paper can’t impact the foil’s color. Keep in mind that different printers will carry different foil colors. You should use this option if your design:

  • Has a limited amount of detail
  • Needs a metallic or slightly glossy element
  • Is on dark stock

Embossing & debossing

Embossing raises an image above the paper stock, while debossing recesses it. These imprint methods add texture to the design and will always match the color of your paper stock. They’re great options if your design:

  • Has a limited amount of detail
  • Has 3D design elements that recipients need to see and feel
  • Uses thin or textured stock, as thick stock can make it difficult to print the design

This advice comes from Company Folders, a print shop that specializes in print design.

Search