Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thermography, Letterpress, Digital, How to Decide Which Type of Printing to Use?

When I first sit with couples to design their wedding stationery, be it invitations, save the dates, thank you notes, or escort cards, there are many decisions to be made. One of the first questions that I ask is if they have a type of printing in mind. While you may think "who thinks about that before they have to?", you'd be surprised. Some people have a very set idea of what they would like their invitation to include, not include, and all of the details in between. However, others do not.

If you follow this link, The Knot gives a really great text description of the printing processes that are available, but I'm a very visual learner, so I'm supplying some pics to help you figure it out. Here's the Sparkle and Ink, real-deal guide to choosing a printing process.

I'm skipping engraving, because honestly, it's quite costly, and those who want engraving, know that in advance, so you don't need my pictures to help with that decision. However, Thermography is a great alternative, at a much more reasonable cost. Thermography generally runs in a mid-range cost, and gives your invitation a more elegant, or fancier look. In my opinion, it's worth the splurge unless you are dreaming of a VERY colorful invite (more colors = more money)
So here's a shot of what that looks like:

Hopefully you can see from the picture (I tried to get a good angle) that the letters are raised, they almost have a waxy feel to them, and a little tiny bit of a sheen. Like I said, this gives you a lot of bang for the buck.

Ok, next onto Letterpress. Letterpress is dreamy, it's classic looking, it's elegant, it's modern, it can be anything you want it to be (but not shiny). Timing takes longer, and color choices need to be chosen carefully because you pay per color. Pricing is more than with thermography or flat printing, but if you are willing to spend a little extra, it's worth it.
Here's an idea of how this looks:
This sample shows 2 colors

This picture above shows how it looks when the image is just pressed into the luxurious thick paper, but not inked.

Now, foil-stamping is much like letterpress, and often used on the same pieces as letter pressed pieces, but the foil gives you a shiny effect (foils are available in colors as well). I'm not sure I recommend printing your text in this process, but it makes a nice accent in a medium price range. Foil is also fantastic for creating labels, so a nice touch can be to seal your envelopes with a foil embossed sticker. 

The lowest cost option for printing is flat printing. Whether you choose digital offset or digital, you get basically the same look. Offset will generally produce a higher quality, but with the digital printers available today, it's likely that the difference will not be discernible to an untrained eye. This is what you can expect...It's flat printing, not raised, not sunken into the paper. You can have many colors, and adding colors does not significantly change the price. Although this is the printing that you are most used to seeing on everyday printed materials, here's an idea on an invitation. See, still looks nice when presented in an elegant design. You can find another example of a Sparkle and Ink Invitation that was flat printed here.

Finally, we have embossing. Embossing can be a nice accent, can be done in color, or ink-less which give a nice effect as well My picture did not do this justice, but you can get the idea, the design is raised on the paper. This one was on a metallic card stock (hence the terrible reflection). 

Hopefully this is helpful as you begin to think about designing your invitations. Let your style dictate which process you explore further. If you want shiny or glamorous, then investigate foil stamping. If you want classic and elegant, then maybe letterpress is for you. If your budget is tight, a great design with flat printing can create the look you want at a lower price point. Maybe you want to add some embossing to your flat printed piece to jazz it up a bit. Ask to see loads of samples, and follow your gut as to what speaks to you. It may be a lot at first, but you will get there. And you can always message Sparkle and Ink for input. We LOVE to hear from you!

If you already designed your invitations, what type of printing did you choose? Why is that the one that you went with? Please share for the other brides who read this. Are there any other parts of wedding preparation that have you stumped? Let us know and we'll blog for you!

Sparkle On!
- Kathy

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