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Printing 101

Baby Steps To Print Purchasing Know How

The Printing Crash Course - Printing School

Varnish: The Finishing Touch

Varnish is essentially ink without pigment. It requires its own printing unit on press. It can be wet-trapped (printed in-line at the same time other inks are laid down), or dry-trapped (run as an additional pass through the press after the initial ink coating has dried). The latter often provides a glossier finish. Varnish comes in gloss, dull, and satin (in-between dull and gloss), and can be tinted by adding pigment to the varnish.

Printing Varnish, like its close cousin Wood Varnish is a protective coating, usually glossy, but also available in matt (or satin, dull) finishes. The varnish is applied as a finishing layer of ink on the printed sheet offering a protective coating to deep and dark colors from showing finger prints. The use of Gloss and Matt varnishes are used to enhance and subdue certain areas of the printed image.

It is highly recommended to protect the printed inks on images where the inks will rub against another surface, or on the sheet next to it. Ideally all business cards should be coated so that carrying them in one's pocket will not spoil the printed image by rubbing with the next card or the wallet that hold the cards.

All dark colors should be coated as the dark pigments of colors like reflex blue, deep browns, deep greens, heavy purples and violets all take several month to dry, and sometimes never do fully dry. If varnish is applied on the top of these dark colors, it seals the color between the varnish and the paper.

Varnishes, as with all coatings, can only be applied to coated stocks, and uncoated stocks will absorb the varnish into the paper substrate, and therefore virtually vanish.

From an artistic standpoint, you can play a dull-varnished portion of the sheet against a portion without varnish or with a gloss varnish. This contrast can give emphasis to certain areas and/or give the impression of depth.

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