All that glitters . . . . . .

………doesn’t have to be gold

it can be diamonds and emeralds and lots of other sparkly expensive gems too.

And thus when it comes to printing gold it can be quite expensive too.

Last week I did a quote for some business card design, and the client really likes the idea of using gold.

To my current knowledge there are 4 ways of achieving a gold look when printing, and depending on your viewpoint and expectations, 3 out of those 4 will probably be over your expected budget. . . . .

. . . .especially if you are looking at something simple like a business card.

So the ways to achieve gold in print:

1. By using a combination of the 4 primary CMYK print colours.

Which as they are already being used in printing the rest of your job, means there is no additional expense or special techniques required. A variety of different gold colours are achievable, then add a simple (affordable) spot varnish for some shine.

(the primaries of print, which allow the printer to create virtually every colour . . . . are cyan, magenta, yellow and black.- otherwise known as CMYK – and just to be confusing the K is the black – which stands for Key)

2. By using a metallic gold ink.

Which will be in addition to using the cmyk set for the rest of your job, or even as a stand alone “gold only” printed item,is a specialised, metallic, slow drying ink that adds a substantial cost to the print price.

Particularly when the print prices I can get for my clients are such excellent value
on this short run business card it more than doubled the print cost.

Of course depending on the print prices you normally pay, even my prices with gold could quite well be less than your normal charge without.
(Ask me for a quote – to be on the safe side)

Now when we visualise gold, we think sparkly and shiny and reflective, like pretty rings in the jewellers window, but unfortunately when you print a gold ink, it tends not to be quite like this.

The attractiveness of a gold item is the way it shines and catches the light and changes its look depending on what is being reflected within it – but a printed metallic ink doesn’t quite do this.

While the metallic ink, will have a slight sheen, which can be enhanced with laminating or varnishing it is a flat solid colour, and not a reflective colour, so it can appear a little bit dull.

3. By using a technique known as gold blocking or foiling,

in which actual metal foils are pressed into the paper, or board, and this achieves the more familiar shiny gold more reminiscent of the jewellers shop window.

while this all looks lovely and shiny and sparkly, it costs rather more as there is the need for a mould or block to be manufactured in the shape of the gold area in order to press the foil into the paper / board.

This is a one off cost and therefore the same block or mould can be used repeatedly for printing that same gold image onto other items, or repeat printing in the future.

While this shiny sparkly god is all nice an reflective, this makes it harder to see, particularly against a white background, so careful thinking with the design is required. . .

. . . and careful use of the gold is needed particularly for text to make sure that it enhances the design rather than important information being lost due to un-readability.

4. By printing on metallic board.

A new digital print contact I met last week Steve Brown at imprint, Redditch- showed me a product called mirri which is a metallic board that they can print onto.

this looks very exciting, and there again the cost is higher, but it is one of those ‘get what you pay for’ situations.

Being a metallic board then it is indeed very reflective. I can see my face in the sample on the desk in front of me as I type this, so it has the jewellers shop window sparkle effect.

I have not seen this in action, and it would work in the way that you need to print everything else and leave off the bits that need to be gold. . . .

. . .so may work better in situations where you want that big splash of gold sparkle, maybe retaining more of the background, and printing white and black over the top.

this allows for another dimension in design.

A slight let down is that the printer recommending it to me, advised that they could only get the 270gsm thickness board throughout their digital press, whereas normally for a quality weight business card I would use 350gsm (grams per square metre) board.

The wow factor of the gold may well be enough to offset the slightly thinner board however, if the quality of design and print comes up to scratch.

But to reflect back on the first print process, the standard trustworthy cmyk, that can produce thousands of combinations of colour tones and shades and photographs (of gold coins and gold wedding rings and jewellers shop windows)

Let us remember, if we are on a budget, and the design is fantastic, and the quality of the printing is great too, and the weight of the board is thick and tactile, then to achieve that gold effect
. . . . .all that glitters really

 . . . . . doesn’t have to be gold

In my opinion, you will get a pretty damn good gold effect with blends tones and the four colour print process, that you don’t need to stress over the cost.

But its a nice treat if you want to go that extra mile.

If you are interesting in reading further about the processes of gold printing . . .


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