Designing enhancements – our suggestions

Designing enhancements – our suggestions

Not sure where to start? We hope this short instruction will help you out. Adding enhancements is less complicated than it seems. If you don’t want to botch the job and would rather save yourself the stress and time, here are a few things worth knowing before you get on with the task ahead.

1. Check the tricky spots

Your instinct probably tells you that enhancements shouldn’t be applied along creases, hinges, crop marks and over the bleed. However, this isn’t entirely true as it all depends on what enhancements you want to have applied. While 3D varnish can’t be applied along a crease, there’s nothing stopping you from applying 2D varnish there.

2. No graphics underneath foil embossing

Let’s say you want your book title embossed with gold foil. There’s no need for the title to be printed first then. If you have your graphics printed and foil is applied on top afterwards, it may turn out that an unwanted element of your graphics will be showing somewhere from underneath the gold foil. Why? Go to the next section to find out.

3. Allow for slight shifts in registration

It’s good to remember that a machine (even the most perfect one) is just a machine. Slight shifts in registration (e.g. by approx. 1 mm) can happen irrespective of whether you’re dealing with hot-stamping, traditional spot varnishes or state-of-the-art digital technologies.

4. Remember your margins

Now that you know that some enhancements shouldn’t be applied along your crop marks and you are also aware of possible shifts in registration, it’s time to take care of your margins. A 1 mm distance between the elements to be enhanced and your crop marks might not be enough; 3 mm is the absolute minimum here.

5. Think about the substrate you want your enhancements to be applied on

When designing a book cover, you have to be aware that, first of all, it’s not always possible to apply certain enhancements on a given substrate. Secondly, even if it’s possible, sometimes it might not be worth it. You can’t apply spot varnishes on canvas. On the other hand, spot varnishes can be used on elements first coated with glossy foils without any problems. It’s just that the end result can leave much to be desired: glossy on glossy isn’t the best of ideas. So before you decide on a particular type of enhancement, do some research to make sure that the substrate you choose will be suitable for the selected enhancement.

6. Size does matter

Well, the size of the graphics and texts that you wish to be enhanced does. These elements shouldn’t be too small. There are strict parameters that have to be kept in mind with regard to the parts of your publication to be enhanced using both the traditional and the 3D Touch technologies. Adhering to them will provide a guarantee of a high-quality end result. The parameters in question are set out in our guide; you can access it by clicking on the link at the end of this article.

7. Design all the elements you wish to be applied using uniform sizing

The file with the chosen enhancements you send to the printing house should state the exact same sizing as the file containing your book cover design, while masks for individual enhancements should be positioned exactly where you want to see them on the printed cover. This way it’s clear what’s to be enhanced, and it also enables us to see where exactly the designer intended to apply a given enhancement. No time is wasted trying to make the masks for individual enhancement fit the print files. We can thus minimise the risk of making errors, where the simplest solution is to generate your final PDFs from one single file.

8. Separate files

Save your mask files for individual enhancements as separate files. If you want to have two different foils applied, e.g. gold and silver, then each colour also requires a separate file.

9. Provide a description for your files

This might seem like nonsense, but it’s nonsense on the surface only. Believe it or not, the innumerable superpowers that our technicians are gifted with don’t include mindreading. Foil colour, type of varnish, etc., are the information required when it comes to sending your files to us.

10. Ask!

Are you not quite following? Having doubts? Are you not 100% sure how to do this? Just ask. A short conversation with someone competent can save you a lot of time and unnecessary work for you and the person that will be reviewing your files.

Helpful links:
All details and useful tips can be found in our guide.
If you’re still unclear on anything, contact our Customer Service Desk.

lidia piasecka

Lidia Piasecka

Graphic designer at She writes because she enjoys it, but only when she isn’t busy drawing. Enthusiast of vintage furniture, she restores them to their original glory. Lover of cats, moths and the Moomins.

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