Characterized by crisp, raised lines of text and fine-detailed results, engraving is a traditional method of invitation and stationery printing. Print dies are made for each color, which are filled with ink and pressed against the paper leaving a trademark “bruise” on the back of the card. Some additional strengths of engraving include the option of using metallic inks, printing with light-colored inks on dark paper, and the ability to print on extra thick, luxurious cotton paper. Embossing can also be paired with engraving to creating a raised surface that emphasizes select elements of text or illustration.
Printing with foil offers the best option for achieving a truly shiny metallic appearance, although there are a wide variety of options beyond high shine foils in the form of matte, pearlized, and even textured foils. Color consistency throughout a print run, with bright, saturated colors in particular, as well as the ability to achieve extremely fine detail when applied to hard or coated paper stock are advantages of printing with foil. For an extra dynamic look, foil stamping can also be combined with other print processes such as letterpress and engraving.
Letterpress is the oldest form of printing (dating back to the 15th century) and is known for its tactile quality and timeless aesthetic. Raised plates or print dies are created for each color being printed, which are then inked and pressed into the paper. The resulting impressions are best carried by thick, soft paper. Letterpress was originally performed with hand-set type made from wood or metal, but modern plate-making processes have resulted in endless possibilities for printing intricate designs and artwork.
Thermographic printing is the application of heat to a combination of ink and powder resin, producing a raised lettering effect that is a less expensive alternative to engraving. While thermography has a slightly shiny finish, and will not achieve engraving’s degree of clarity, it reproduces detailed line art and text extremely well and is a great option for creating invitations and stationery with a distinctive feel.
The best choice for affordable short runs, digital printing is a versatile method for printing designs with multiple colors, photos, and layered artwork on a variety of paper types. A great choice for menus, programs, and other day-of print items, another advantage of digital printing technology is the ability to add your addresses directly to envelopes or postcards with variable data printing.
Offset lithography is the most common form of commercial printing used for magazine publications and large quantity print runs. Because this method relies on plates to be made for each color, pieces with multiple colors can be costly to produce. Spot colors can be used for greater color accuracy and consist printing over larger areas of ink.