All You Need to Know About Spot UV Varnish

Spot UV varnish is another print finish favourite of ours at TLG Design. And fortunately, it’s a pretty popular choice due to its ability to reflect positively on any brand or individual who uses it in their designs.

So, if you’re looking to elevate the look and feel of a business card, brochure, invite or stationery perhaps, spot UV varnish is for you. But if you’re still unsure, here’s everything you need to know about the unique printing technique. 

What is spot UV varnish?

To understand what spot UV is, there are two elements we must look at. First, is the material used to create a spot UV varnish finish. This material is a tough but shiny clear coating that can be applied over any printed design. 

Next, is the ‘spot’ element. This refers to where and how this coating is applied to a design. A spot technique typically means it is applied to a specific section or small part of the design’s surface, as opposed to the entire thing.

As well as being used as an overlay to coat a specific image or graphic, the technique can be used as its own design element. To do this, the coating can be applied directly onto a paper substrate to create an interesting contrast, which then becomes a design element in its own right.

As a popular print finish, it’s likely you’ve seen the technique used in many different scenarios. For instance, it’s common for businesses to use spot UV varnish on their business cards, brochures and other branded stationery, as well as for publishers on book covers or wedding planners on invites. For more ideas on how spot UV can be applied to your designs, have a browse through our portfolio

The spot UV varnish process 

So now you know what spot UV varnish is, let’s look at what its process entails. The tough, shiny coating, as discussed previously, is usually applied to a design in liquid form. This liquid is then exposed to UV light in order for it to bond and dry, and hence giving it its UV naming convention.

Thanks to the technology and machinery we have available today, the process is relatively quick and easy. When coating an entire design, sheets are simply fed through a machine, which floods the page with the coating and then exposes it to UV light in order for it to dry. 

The spot technique is a little different. Rather than an entire sheet being flooded with the coating, it is spread across a die cut template instead. This template is then placed onto the design in order to ensure only the chosen areas are coated. The UV exposure and drying process is the same. 

Why choose a spot UV varnish finish? 

There are a number of benefits for choosing a spot UV varnish finish. Firstly, the coating type is much more robust than others, ensuring designs remain intact for longer.

Next, the effect that the technique can achieve is second to none. It creates an eye-catching contrast, which only becomes more interesting when moved, tilted or passed under light. The contrast between the two finishes - the standard and the spot UV varnish - add depth and dimension to designs too. 

But it isn’t just visual appeal that the print finish technique creates. Rather, the contrast between the two textures can also be felt through touch, allowing designs to evoke more sensory responses than usual ones do. 

Consequently, the technique is ideal for anyone wanting to really make an impact and leave lasting impressions on their customers or clients through professional looking, and feeling, designs. 

Spot UV varnish: top tips 

Before proceeding with your spot UV varnish design, here are just a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Try not to overdo it by adding the coating to the entire material as one block defeats the purpose. Aim to cover no more than 25% of the surface.
  2. We’re usually told that spot UV works better against dark backgrounds as it appears even darker where the spot UV has been applied. But if you want more of a subtle look, lighter tones work well too and can create a totally different effect. Instead of being visible as a darker contrast, unless there is a reflection, the gloss effect becomes barely visible, but as soon as the printed item is tilted or moved in a different direction, as if like magic, it appears. 
  3. UV varnish can be applied on top of a logo, text and pictures, but the best way to make an impact is to use it is as a design element in its own right by applying it as a pattern across the printed piece or as statement text. 
  4. Due to Spot UV being shiny and reflective, it can be hard to see the design underneath in certain angles, so, to avoid compromising the printed design, make sure you consider where there will be any text or colours that may be affected before applying. 

We are always drawn to printed materials that use a spot UV varnish finish, or other techniques such as embossing or foil printing for that matter, as they really engage the audience. These special finishes certainly contribute to that, but are so often overlooked due to additional production costs. However, if you keep in mind the impact and benefits they have, any concerns can be settled. 

If you’re looking to incorporate the spot UV varnish printing technique into your branded materials, or would like to know what other possibilities there are, we are here to help so please do not hesitate to get in touch

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