Book cover print finishes

After doing the Penguin book cover competition last year, I didn’t really think about the print finishes. Over the summer I read about Computer Arts Magazine cover competition. The magazine had a review of the shortlist for the cover design and one thing that interested me was where the review for each design had a section on how it could be improved for print. This section contained stuff like if the title should have a glass over it, if the digital version of the magazine was animated. Even though this isn’t really relevant to our project or even a requirement to submitting to the competition, I found it interesting.

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Computer Arts cover contest 2015: top 12 shortlist revealed

This is an example of what they talk about in respect of print/digital finishing.

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I had never considered this side of design a book cover and theres loads of techniques I’ve never heard of. such as –

  • The print edition is set up to use thermo-sensitive ink, which “enables the reader to literally reveal the new talent within”.
  • Mateusz thinks the print edition could be enhanced using diffuser foil.
  • For print, Loek suggests a UV spot varnish.
  • Josie suggested a spot varnish on certain areas of her design to add depth
  • use a bit of glow-in-the-dark ink on some parts of the illustration.
  • Mohd suggests a non-gloss print on the drawing part of the cover: “This enables designers to draw their artwork on the canvas.
  • A laser-cut cover page.
  • the ‘New Talent’ title and circular icon could be die-cut and filled with a glossy black paper or have a rough matt finish.”

Here’s a great video of how Computer Arts used thermo-sensitive ink on there lastest issue.

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Computer Arts goes behind the scenes with our print finishing partners Celloglas, as a thermochromic heat-reactive ink is applied to our Top 30 UK Studios issue.

Examples of print finishes

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UV spot varnish

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thermo-sensitive ink or thermochromic heat-reactive ink

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 glow-in-the-dark ink

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diffuser foil

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Laser-cutting & Die-cutting

In terms of my design?

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Due to the subtly of the colours in my minimalist monotone design, I’d like the have the silhouettes UV spot varnished, but I’m caught between a gloss or matt finish. Again working with simplistic imagery doesn’t leave much to work with, maybe the crouching silhouette on the cover could be done using glow-in-the-dark ink? which means it’s barely visible in the day but when its dark it appears. Same applies to the back, and all you’ll see is the standing silhouette. I think if the silhouette’s, title and other elements on the cover and back have a glossy finish then the rest of the book should be matt, which will to show the division and contrast instead of me having to make bolder adjustments to colours.

More information on different finishes


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