In The Workshop – Design Technique: Graphics Embossed Printing

What Is It, How It Is Done + How To Ideas & Guidelines

The Process: When it comes to embossed printing you will usually have two custom metal plates made, a male and a female. Both have the design on them, but one is raised and the other one is recessed so they fit into each other. The raised plate is placed behind the card, and the recessed plate is pressed down on the front of the card. This way the card will stay flat while the design is pushed though. Debossing is the opposite effect – instead of having a design raised on the card, the design is indented into the card.

Emboss Printers Embossing Process Topshop Emboss

The embossing dies, the metal plates, can come in single levels or multi levels. There are also round edged dies which provide a softer edge to the embossed area. All of these dies can come in different depths -the deeper the depth the higher and more prominent the embossing on the business card.

Chiseled Straight Edge Embossing

Embossed Bueinss Card

Round Edged Embossing

Round Embossing

At The Printers

Printing Process

Choosing The Right Card: The type of card/stock you choose for your business cards, wedding invitations, etc, is key to getting a good embossed design. Most printers will know which card works best for embossing. You want to go with a card that is thick and has loose fibers – which allows the metal dies to make a solid impression.

Combo Power – Print Finishes

There are a number of finishes to choose from when doing emboss printing. There is blind embossing which is where you just leave the embossing plain without adding any finishes.

Blind Emboss

There is foil printing which you can do over the embossing. You c choose between a range of different foils from glossy and hologram to matte and metallic foils like gold and silver.

Foil Embossed Business Card

There is also UV spot varnish finish which adds a clear gloss over the embossed area. And then lastly there is good old fashion ink.

Handmade DIY Embossing:

Hand Embosser

A custom made hand crank embosser (also known as an embossing stamp) is a great tool to have. Costs for these hand machines range from $40 – $100 depending on the size of the design and the complexity. Not only do these hand embossers add a more handmade, authentic feel to what you apply it to, it can save you a lot on printing costs.

One amazing way to use it is to have your business cards, invitations, stationary, etc, printed with your details, and then use the embosser to emboss your logo or some other design element. You could even skip having your details printed and just get a rubber ink stamp made of the details– stamp then emboss.

DIY Hand Embossed Cards

This hand crank device can also be used on other stationary items such as letterheads, envelops, note book covers, seals, or even paper napkins and thin leather hides.

Embossed Napkins


Alternative Embossing Tools

The Cuttlebug: If you are looking for ways to do craft projects at home using different embossing designs then have a look at the Cuttlebug machine. This machine uses cutting dies and embossing folders – have a look here for more: Cuttlebug.

Cuttlebug Embosser


Embossing Powder: The most common way to create an embossed image with embossing powder is to first use an ink stamp to stamp the image onto a piece of card or paper. Then pour the embossing powder over the wet ink. Pour off the excess powder and then you’ll need a craft heat gun which will transform and raise the powder graphics.

Another way to create homemade 3D images is to find household items and press them into thick card as seen in the photos below:

Craft Embossing

image credits: Printers, Topshop, Henry, Round Edges, Blind Emboss, Liverpool Pub, DIY, Debossing

For a range of high quality printers, and examples of their work, head on over to our Designer Printers Directory Page.


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