Curious about blind embossing? In this article, we'll talk about embossing basics, blind embossing, and embossing vs. debossing, and we'll discuss which might be best for your next project.
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What Is Embossing?
You may have seen embossing before in designs like business cards or packaging. Embossing tends to be a classy, sophisticated finishing technique that adds a tactile extra to the overall experience of engaging with a design. Embossing is not exclusive to paper either—you may see similar techniques applied to surfaces like leather or metal too.
How Does Embossing Work?
Let's say you're interested in creating a design that includes embossed elements. How does embossing work?
- First, you'll need to design your work and specify which aspects you envision being embossed. Using a mockup template can be helpful in giving you a preview of what your work will look like before printing or even getting a hard proof.
- Next, looking at the printing process, a die or stamp is created. It's typically made from metal and is the opposite of your desired result. Think of it this way—it largely consists of the areas that correspond to what you aim to emboss.
- Then, the paper, cardstock, or other surface (leather, metal, etc.) is placed between the embossing die and a support. It is fed through an embossing press to create the desired outcome.
Embossing can be combined with many other printing and finishing techniques. For example, color printing and foil stamping can be lovely complements for embossing.
Keep in mind, however, that different surfaces will have a different process. Glass bottles, for example, wouldn't have the same process as paper—just as metal and leather would differ. When in doubt, check with your printer. They will be able to share specifications with you.
When Should I Use Embossing?
Embossing is typically a tactile finishing technique, so you'll want to be strategic with its use. Could you emboss an entire design, including every element and bit of type? You could—but it's often best reserved for key points, unless the tactile quality has an alternative communicative purpose (a braille embosser, for example, would be a different circumstance).
Here are some use cases when embossing is often a popular choice:
Embossing is a popular option for stationery, business cards, and other paper products related to branding and stationery systems. Since stationery products tend to be quite tactile (we pick them up, hold them, open them, etc.), embossing is a great choice.
Embossing can add a touch of sophistication and class—take a look at the above example. It's raised and has gold foil, communicating luxury and prestige. This might not look nearly as high end if it was just printed in a gold-ish color.
You'll also often find embossing used in branding and logo design elements. For example, you'll find embossed logos on packaging, merchandising, and more. This bag design template is a beautiful example—the logo looks like a classy stamped signature. This reads in a sophisticated way, as opposed to a simple print.
You'll also often see embossed design elements on invitations, greeting cards, and even certificates. For example, these kinds of design choices can work very nicely for weddings and other special occasions that are meant to feel extraordinary. It can also be a lovely way to bring an extra air of prestige to collateral like menus and announcements.
Packaging and labels are another space where you'll often see embossed design elements. Embossing is particularly a great idea when there's a lot of texture at play—this metal packaging is a great example. The embossed elements further play into the package's materials and use it to its benefit. Even though this is blind embossed, the text is still very legible.
What Is Debossing?
The debossing process is rather similar—where a die is created and then the surface is indented using a press. Much like embossing, you can also apply different inks and finishing aspects to debossed elements. In particular, debossing can be an excellent choice for added color, given its recessed nature.
Examples of Debossed Designs
Let's take a look at some examples of debossed designs—they can be just as elegant and noteworthy as embossed designs. Whether you're looking for added luxury or something subtle, it's an approach that's worth being familiar with.
This package design takes advantage of both subtle debossing and gold foil. When used together, you have a beautiful, tactile experience. Notice how the packaging itself is made of a beautiful, textured surface. Since packaging, by design, is meant to be touched, subtle elements with depth and texture can make for such a luxurious experience.
This example is quite different. Rather than luxury, this debossed design is quite earthy and organic. Notice how, again, it really plays into the texture of the product itself. Book covers can be a great project for both embossing and debossing, because they are designed to be picked up and touched. Those little extra elements can further enhance the experience of engaging with the printed piece.
All kinds of merchandising can benefit from these kinds of tactile qualities too. In this fun example, cork coasters have been debossed—it's functional, it's textured, and it's a great way to advertise your business.
Embossing vs. Debossing
Now that we've looked at the basics of embossed vs. debossed, which is the best choice? How do they differ? Embossing and debossing are both finishing processes used to create textured depth. Let's take compare the two to help you decide if you'd rather emboss or deboss for your project.
Here's an example of an emboss vs. deboss, both elegant solutions with foil.
- Raised elements appear to "pop out" of the design and have a very tactile quality. It's easy to want to reach out and touch embossed elements.
- Recessed elements, on the other hand, are "sunken" into the surface. While still tactile, it's pressed in, rather than "sticking out".
- Both embossing and debossing can have a subtle impact on value. For example, embossed elements may appear lighter, while debossed elements may appear a little darker due to lighting and the paper surface.
- Embossed elements can potentially stand out and encourage the user to appreciate the tactile quality. Debossed elements have the potential to be more subtle, while still offering a tactile experience.
Both embossing and debossing require precise finishing and can result in a very sophisticated end product. The choice largely depends on your design objectives. Consider what visual and tactile goals you hope to achieve. Remember, both embossing and debossing should potentially enhance your design—don't overdo it. Consider using them for points of emphasis, for example, or as an enhancement in key places.
What Is Blind Embossing?
Not all embossing is blind embossing, as we've seen in some of the previous examples. You may want to have both ink and embossing in your design work—gold, in particular, can be a popular choice for embossing that also uses ink and color. Here's an example of embossing with ink vs. blind embossing:
An Example of Embossing With Foil
An Example of Blind Embossing
In addition, while you can have blind embossed elements, you can also have blind debossed elements. The same applies—it's about added those textured elements, but without the addition of inks or any extras. Here's an example of a blind embossed design and a blind debossed design.
Blind Embossed Design
Blind Debossed Design
Why Use Blind Embossed Design?
We've seen a variety of examples so far—you may have noticed that some of them were blind embossing. You'll notice that the nature of the embossed elements really depends on the design's objectives and circumstance. Adding ink or foil can make for a different aesthetic than going with blind embossing. Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind:
- Blind embossing tends to be more subtle by design. The impression itself carries the entire design element, so make sure it's large enough to be legible.
- Keep the paper or surface in mind when you consider blind embossing. Certain textures may read clearer.
- Consider the other elements in your design too. If you opt for blind embossing but other elements in your design have much higher contrast, it may fade into the background. This isn't always a bad thing—as we'll explore in a moment.
Examples of Blind Embossing
Let's take a look at some examples of blind embossing printing designs in use. Some of them are designed to be an important part in the design, while others play a more supplemental role.
Isn't this embossed logo beautiful? It's soft and delicate, like a whisper, and the texture of the paper is a perfect complement. Note how it visually communicates. There's a lot of clean, earthy energy here due to how open and soft this design looks.
This business card design is an interesting look at using blind embossing as a supplemental design element. The back of the card is blind embossed—it's meant to act as a supplemental pattern. Given the nature of a business card (they are normally held and/or touched), the viewer would likely "feel" the logo on the back.
And here's an example of blind debossing. Notice how the values feel darker as we recess into the material at hand. Something about it feels very carved or burned into this book cover, which reads very different from how it might look if it was protruding outwards. It gives this design a very rustic feeling.
Try Out Your Own Embossed Design Concepts With These Design Mockups
Curious about designing with embossed, debossed, or blind embossed elements? Design mockups are an excellent way to test out your design completely digitally. Every example in this article is available to download from Envato Elements—meaning you can take every one of these examples for a test run with your own design ideas!
Check out these lovely embossed mockups that you can download right now to try your hand at embossed design. They're only a sample of what's available over on Envato Elements.
1. Gold Foil Embossed Logo Mockup (PSD)
Love the look of embossed design enhanced with gold foil? It's a popular choice for a reason—it's very classy. This embossed mockup template makes it easy to try out this design approach for yourself—no printer or embossing needed. Just open the template up in Adobe Photoshop and use the included Smart Objects.
2. Embossed Product Tag Mockups (PSD)
Labels are another popular choice for embossing. This product tag mockup collection includes so many different options you can try. Try embossing, debossing, foil, inks, and more, easily and quickly in Adobe Photoshop.
3. Simple Blind Embossed Logo Mockup (PSD)
Want to see your logo, name, or signature beautifully blind embossed? You don't have to go to a printer to get a preview of what it would look like. This simple mockup makes it easy. Just add your content to the included Smart Object in Adobe Photoshop to see your results.
Embossed elements with gold foil can make something special look even more special. It's popular for seals, diplomas, certificates, and other official documents. This mockup makes it easy to preview what that design approach might look like for your seal, crest, logo, monogram, or other design element.
5. Gold Foil Debossed Portfolio Cover (PSD)
There are plenty of debossed mockups on Envato Elements too—like this debossed foil mockup, perfect for portfolios, binders, and notebooks. Doesn't it look classy? Take your business or company collateral further with a touch of luxurious embossing.
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