Finishes and effects

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


In addition to litho, digital, Riso and inket printing, Calverts can offer the widest range of special print effects, coatings and finishes through our network of suppliers. 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.

Varnishing and laminating

We put an indetectible water-based sealer on all Calverts litho print, to stop the ink rubbing. We also offer two kinds of clear varnishing – litho and ultraviolet cured (UV).

Litho varnish is subtle, and can be glossy or matt. UV varnish is usually super glossy and ‘high build’. It’s applied using a screen printing process. Either type of varnish can be applied to the whole printed page, as a ‘blind’ varnish, or to pick out certain areas such as type features and pictures.

To thoroughly protect the printed sheet, it can be laminated with a very thin, clear film. This is useful for things that are going to get a battering, like book covers, menus and reusable work sheets. The lamination can be glossy, matt, silk or ‘soft touch’, on one or both sides of the sheet. Calverts offers cellulose based laminates, which mean the paper can be more easily recycled at the end of its life.


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.


Sandwiching two, three or more leaves together (duplex, triplex, quadruplex) is a way to have different colours on each side of the finished sheet, to create a coloured middle layer, or to make a really bulky, stiff material that’s ideal for things like invitations and business cards. 

Normally, this technique is quite expensive because the sheets literally have to be glued together one at a time, but we can offer a range of ‘self-duplexing’ cards to make it quick and cost effective.

The two outer leaves should be the same weight or type of material, so that when they’re glued together the sheet doesn’t bend!


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.

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