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Embossing – What is it and how do you use it?

Embossing dates back to the 15th Century and is a development of the letterpress printing process.

Whilst letterpress (done correctly) leaves no impression on the back of the paper, embossing or debossing uses a raised printing plate, heat and pressure to create an outline of the image in the paper.

When used in conjunction with a recessed counterforce, the raised embossing die forces the paper into the counterforce creating a crisp contoured image.

Hand operated embossing machine, image courtesy of Wikipedia

Up until the 1970’s it was common for companies to have their own embossing ‘stamp’ as a security feature for business contracts and paperwork.

Nowadays embossing is used as an embellishment to enhance the look and feel of a printed item, most noticeably in stationary, brochure and packaging print.

Luxury goods packaging

Embossing is best used on a plain background where the raised image stands out the most.

Blind embossing a blue cover paper.
Blind embossing on a blue cover paper

The term ‘blind embossing’ is used where there is embossing only and no foiling.

Pashley book cover

Embossing and printing the same image creates a textured 3D effect.

–Article by Reynolds Press