Popular Printing Methods Explained

Popular Printing Methods Explained

Whether you are making your own wedding stationery or you are working with a designer it's good to have a basic understanding of the different print techniques, so you know what you want and also what to expect.

When you are new to the print industry it can feel very daunting and confusing when people start talking about all the different printing methods and throwing around words like ‘litho’ or ‘hot foil’.

I worked as a graphic designer and studio manager for over a decade after studying graphic design at University. During this time I worked on countless print projects, from single page flyers to magazines and once even a book.

I'm going to give you a very brief and basic introduction to various different print techniques that you may come across when you are ordering your wedding stationery.

Digital Print

Digital print is the most common print technique used for wedding stationery and is fairly straightforward as it works in a very similar way to a desktop printer, something most of us are familiar with. It is the simplest and also most cost effective way to print.

White ink

Printing with white ink is becoming more and more popular as more big print houses expand and improve there printers. If you've been browsing Pinterest you may have seen white ink printed on to wedding invitations and also used for addresses on envelopes. White ink is best when it is used to print onto darker colour as it stands out best on a dark background.

Digital Foil printing

There are two different methods of printing with foil, digital foil and hot foil. You can foil at home with the use of a laser printer and a minc machine (or laminator) this is digital foil. A lot of print houses will print digital foil using a similar technique on a bigger scale. The quality of digital foil can be inconsistent and is sometimes flawed, but if you don't mind this and want a cost effective element of shine on your wedding invites then this could be a good option for you. Digital foil can sometimes require laminating which will change the feel of the paper and it also can’t be recycled.

Hot Foil Printing

I don't offer digital foil because I specialise in hot foil printing. Hot foil is very labour intensive and is therefore more expensive than digital, but it is absolutely worth it. I hot foil all of my products in-house, it's an art form and one that I love, no other print technique comes close to being as luxurious, tactile or beautiful.

With hot foil printing the design is made into a brass or magnesium die, this is then attached to a plate on the printing press which is heated up to a very high temperature, at least ninety degrees Celsius. The paper is placed onto the machine, the foil goes on top and the hot metal die is pressed into the paper. If the temperature, the pressure and the timing are correct the foil will have adhered to the paper perfectly and not only will it look exquisite it will be incredible to touch. You can see this in action on my Instagram page @jennifer_tune.

Hot foil is the ultimate luxury when it comes to printing. You can tell the difference between digital and hot foil by the impression that is left in the paper, if you run your fingers over hot foil you can feel the indentation of the design in the paper, it's so wonderfully tactile, it's enough to make any stationery lover swoon.

Hot foil doesn't just mean gold foil or even metallic foil, there are a huge amount of foils available to purchase from holographic silver to fluorescent pink and everything in between. One of my favourite ways to use hot foil is to blind deboss, which basically means print without the foil, so you just get that beautifully subtle indentation in the paper, it's very modern and very minimalistic. This also works really well with a transparent foil.


Letterpress is a beautiful printing method, which works in a very similar way to hot foil, except there's no heat, but there is paint. Letterpress also requires a die of the design to be created, but the dies for letterpress printing are made from polymer. Paint is applied to the press and rollers distribute a layer of paint onto the polymer die which is then pressed into the paper, leaving the paint and a beautiful impression in the paper. To see some exquisite letterpress wedding stationery take a look at Swell Press.

Letterpress and hot foil printing require a lot of hands on work, each single print is done individually, one at a time and the dies have to be made for every design, some designs will require multiple dies, but they do have the most exquisite effect. If you want your wedding invitations to stand out and have your guests racing to RSVP then this is the way to do it.

If you have any questions about any of the techniques I've covered or any other print methods that you'd like me to cover, you can find me over on Instagram @jennifer_tune or send me an email at hello@jennifertune.co.uk

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