Foil Cheat Sheet

We hear about “user experience” (or UX) all the time these days, usually in relation to websites and apps, but of course it plays a major role in print design, too. This is something we were reminded of recently during the creation of this, the ultimate Foil Cheat Sheet, an indispensable resource from PaperSpecs and the Foil & Specialty Effects Association (FSEA).

Between its covers is everything you need to help you not only choose the perfect foiling technique for your project – be it hot, cold or digital – but also tips and insights guaranteed to make your work look its very best. (You can download the PDF version right here.)

Download the PaperSpecs Foil Cheat Sheet

And all of this information would’ve been extremely difficult to take advantage of if we had stuck with our original vision for this piece. As the “Foil Cheat Sheet” name implies, we initially wanted to incorporate everything into a poster; something that could be folded down for easy mailing and that would hopefully end up on the walls of creatives throughout the land.

A valiant idea, but we soon discovered that the content required a different, book-like format if users were to easily locate the information they were searching for. (Yep, our friend “user experience” again.)

PaperSpecs Foil Cheat Sheet

One reason for that is the fact that digital foiling comes in two broad varieties – toner based and varnish based – with several “flavors” of each (e.g., Scodix, MGI iFoil). To go into the details of all these, in addition to those of hot foil stamping, cold foil transfer and foil substrates, would’ve required a poster the size of an office wall – not exactly ideal, UX-wise.

More importantly, we wanted to actually apply digital foil to the Cheat Sheet itself. This was not only to “walk the talk,” but also to show people what digital foil looks like in practice. That would’ve been impossible at the size this poster would have to be.

This project was inspired in part by the countless times I’ve mentioned digital foiling in presentations at conferences such as HOW Design Live, only to discover that no one there had any idea what I was talking about. To me it was vital that people have an example of digital foil that they could turn to as a reference anytime.

With the help of the project team at SunDance, and after creating dozens of dummies (including much folding and refolding), we moved away from the poster idea to develop the gorgeous book you see before you now. This format guides the reader from a general overview of digital foiling to more detailed entries on the two main varieties.

PaperSpecs Foil Cheat Sheet

From the very beginning this book subverts expectations, boasting a wraparound-fold cover that opens out to the right to reveal the first, foiled page inside. Digitally printed on GPA’s Ultra Print White, the pages were soft-touch laminated and digitally foiled using toner-based foiling on the interior pages, and varnish-based foiling on the cover.

The Wire-O binding that holds it all together not only allows for easy lay-flat use, but it also enabled us to give the Foil Cheat Sheet a chunky, substantial feel by making each page a French fold. In other words, page 1 and 2 are both printed on the same side of one larger sheet, with the sheet then folded over to show off the printed side as two pages. (You will even find a gray printed pattern inside those folds.) Had we also chosen to foil stamp them, this would’ve been a smart way to hide the bruising. [Get PRO Tip] 

For those times when you just need to cut to the chase and compare all the various types of foiling at once, we also included a handy fold-out chart at the back. With one glance you can see which techniques are overprintable, what colors are possible, and the maximum sheet size the different foil options will accommodate, among other vital pieces of information.

We hope that those who are able to get their hands on this limited-edition Foil Cheat Sheet will learn as much about foil from its pages as WE learned about designing with user experience in mind.

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Project Details

Title Foil Cheat Sheet Design Sabine Lenz Maureen Adamo Print SunDance Paper 80 lb. GPA Ultra Print White Gloss Cover, 100 lb. GPA Ultra Print White Gloss Cover

Production Details

Print Quantity 700 Printing Method Digital (HP Indigo 7600) Finishing and Binding Soft-touch lamination, toner-based and varnish-based digital foil, scoring, folding, Wire-O binding


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