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Ask the Experts #5


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With blind impressions, if you using a plate, polymer or metal, it is really a matter of how deep you want the impressions. The most simple way is to add packing under the tympan. In some cases you can add a few sheets of 60- or 80-pound paper under the block to make the impression deeper.

If you are using wood or metal type, you want to make sure you don't damage the type. We use a light gray ink or a varnish to do our make ready and tests. This way you can see if your impression is even. if you have a good impression with the ink you'll be sure to get a good impression without the ink. You want to be careful with lead type because hitting it too hard over a long run will damage the type.

Paper also has a lot to do with how the deboss will look. Thicker cotton sheets like Crane's Lettra or Reich's Savoy have longer fibers that bend easier and can allow for a deeper impression. Pulp-based sheets like French's Muscletone will still take a good impression but will have more show through on the back side.

The biggest problem we have found with blind impressions is designers who are fairly new to working in print often don't understand the difference between a blind impression and a true embossing/debossing. A true embossing uses a male and female die setup which gives a more defined and precise debossed image but is more time consuming and costs more because of the special die.

These days blind impressions are often successfully used instead of true embossing. I am sure there is no rule as to what works best in blind but I have noticed that vague or abstract shapes or areas don't work as well as recognizable elements or type. We have seen a lot of patterns used well too. And probably the simplest thing that people should think about when specifying a blind impression or embossing is what goes in one side will come out the other. So unless you are using something like Lettra 220 lb cover or a board weight stock, a decent impression bite of any color is going to show through to the opposite side of the piece. This does not have to be a problems as long as the designer realizes it will happen and takes it into consideration in their design.


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Armin Vit

Editor of FPO and co-founder of UnderConsideration LLC.

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April 4, 2012


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UnderConsideration is a graphic design firm generating its own projects, initiatives, and content while taking on limited client work. Run by Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit in Bloomington, IN. More…

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