Finishes and effects

Contact to find out more about Calverts finishing services, and what you can do with special printing effects – or read on!


In addition to litho, digital, Riso and inket printing, Calverts offers the widest range of special print effects, coatings and finishes. Here are some of them. We’re always experimenting with new techniques and combinations on different materials – so really, ‘the world’s your oyster’.

Foil blocking and screen printing

Foil blocking is the imprinting of a white, black, coloured, metallic, iridescent or clear image from a roll of material, using heat and pressure applied by a relief plate – so it creates a sight intaglio, or indentation effect. Foils can be glossy or matt.

Foiling creates high visual impact and a luxury feel, so it’s often used for packaging, book covers or speciality print. Suppliers like Kurtz provide hundreds of colours and options, which you can check out in Calverts print library.

Screen process is a traditional printing technique using inks ‘squeegeed’ onto paper or board through a fine stencil screen, and again there’s a full range of colours. In contrast to Risograph – which also uses a stencil – screen process inks are opaque and dense. The effect is to make the image ‘sit up’ on the paper surface. We use screen process for short run posters and signage, and as an alternative to foiling.

Embossing and debossing

As with foil blocking, a relief block is used to emboss or deboss an image – but it also has a countersink block to achieve the required deep impression. We’re sorry about this, but in the trade they’re known as ‘male’ and ‘female’.

The relief or depression effect is much more pronounced than with foiling. It can be one depth, or multi-level – and the effect can be stunning.

The imprint can be blind, in other words not ‘in register’ with any other printed element, or aligned with elements of printed detail such as a logo.

Die cutting and laser cutting

Irregular shapes, curved or straight, are made on a sheet of paper or board using either a special die or software-guided laser cutting machine.

Physical dies produce clean and crisp cuts, even with intricate shapes. They are used for items such as pocket folders, invitations, unusual leaflet designs or ‘reveals’ on a printed page or cover. They can incorporate special steel rules for thick or thin creases, and perforations.

Laser cutting creates even more intricate and detailed shapes, although it leaves a slight ‘scorch’ halo on the back of the cut sheet.

‘Kiss’ cutting uses the same technique to cut precisely to a certain depth, for instance on a sheet of stickers or labels with a release sheet backing.


This effect is achieved by sandwiching two or more sheets together. One or more coloured stocks can be used, with the final product often having a bulky feel. Both sheets used should be the same weight (also applies to triplexing/quadruplexing/etc).


We always welcome the chance to combine different types of printing and finishing in unique and unusual ways. Bring us your idea and we will do the rest.

Spot Varnish

A spot varnish is a special effect that puts varnish only on specific areas of a printed piece. Use spot varnish to make a photograph pop off the printed page, highlight drop caps, or to create texture or subtle images on the page. Spot varnish is clear and usually glossy.

  • Les Sentiers de L’Utopie

  • Bombyx Mori

  • Printed Peanut

  • Made You Look, Made You Stare

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.