The Ultimate Guide to the Best Luxury Business Card Printing
To create the best luxury business card design, you first need to understand the medium and processes you will be working with.
The easy part is print on paper, but where it gets more complex is the modern print finishing options you might choose to add to your business card. Knowing the strengths of each of these finishing processes will help you create a luxury business card that is truly stunning.
If it is your first time creating luxury business cards for yourself, we know that trying to understand different luxury print options can be daunting. In this article we hope to summarize everything you need to know in less than a ten minute read, so that you can confidently design the most stunning luxury business cards for us to print for you. Each section below includes image examples of the print techniques we describe.Some of our luxury business card printing
Paper Stocks and Inks for Luxury Business Cards
Understanding what inks will work well on different substrates and paper types is important. If you are printing on a black paper, you’ll need to consider using what will need to be done in order to get the appearance you are looking for. Will you need to order specific ink colors to use? How many do you need? Will this drive up the final cost too much? Fortunately when printing with Vermillion Silk you don’t have to ask yourself most of these questions because we keep options simple to make ordering easy and keep prices low for our customers. All of our cards are printed on a premium white 16pt card stock with CMYK ink.
This means you can use any CMYK colors including printing full color images and gradients. The last thing to consider here is that since CMYK is a subtractive color model, and because of the nature of print vs screen, deep colors may appear slightly darker than on your screen and extremely light grey (near 10% grey) may appear slightly more subtle in print than on screen.
What are the potential disadvantages of CMYK over individual spot color inks? Dot gain, or the halftone pattern effect, and not having guaranteed exact color matching. On modern high-end offset equipment like we use, designs are printed at a super high 500 line screen for a final image that is razor sharp without any noticeable dot gain. As far as exact color matching, it is very rare for it to be worth it or necessary to use Pantone or individual spot color inks unless there is some kind of highly uncommon fluorescent color ink that cannot be produced by CMYK (it probably cannot be produced on your computer display either).
Letterpress business cards are luxurious and appeal to the timeless traditional look of a having an old-school printing press push ink lettering onto your business card. At Vermillion Silk, letterpress doesn’t fit into our philosophy of creating luxury business cards at a price that is reasonable for the average business. While we realize there will always be many options for lower quality business cards significantly cheaper than ours, letterpress cards are many multiples above our products in price. Letterpress is also inefficient to mass produce, very limited in how many ink colors can be used, and as we mentioned — prohibitively expensive for most businesses.
Paper Coatings and Laminates for Luxury Business Cards
Awhile back, full UV high gloss business cards used to be popular. For a short time these were the fancier option in comparison to uncoated card stock (unless you had the option of going with a more expensive textured card stock). Today, high gloss business cards are seen as tacky. A matte appearance however, is timeless.
At Vermillion Silk we offer two unique matte finishes: silk coating and suede coating. Both silk and suede coatings are a type of matte lamination that gives a heavy matte appearance, but even more importantly, provides an extremely unique and luxurious tactile feel. Learn more about the difference between silk coated and suede coated business cards.
Appearance-wise, both silk and suede coated business cards look similar. Technically though, if you want the highest contrast color, suede will be your best bet as it provides a slightly better contrast for deeper blacks. Since suede is a more textured matte finish, it reflects slightly less light than our silk lamination.
A laminate coating also adds substantial durability to a business card, both in helping it to be tear resistant and water resistant!
Finishing Enhancements and Effects for Business Cards
After the ink is printed on the card stock and any laminates or coatings are applied, business cards can go through additional finishing processes to add effects. The two most common categories for these extra finishing options are spot gloss effects and foil effects.
Spot UV/Spot Gloss and Raised Gloss
While full UV coating is no longer popular, spot UV gloss or spot varnish, is extremely popular today. Spot gloss is the inclusion of clear UV gloss in a specific area of the card design, such as over a brand logo for instance. Selective areas of gloss over a business card look particularly nice when contrasting with heavy matte finishes such as our aforementioned silk and suede laminations. The reason the print industry refers to selective gloss as spot UV is because the gloss coating is cured using ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Raised gloss is a glossy polymer that while still cured using UV light, is different from spot UV because while spot UV is almost completely flat, raised gloss is a polymer which can be applied to be much thicker, giving it a three-dimensional embossed feeling.
Spot UV is an affordable print finishing option, but we’d argue that spot gloss effects are probably one of the most difficult effects to use to its fullest potential. Though once you understand how to design around spot UV, incorporating it successfully into your luxury business cards is straightforward.
Designers who haven’t used spot UV before tend to think, “I’ll put the spot UV over all my text and over my logo.” While adding spot UV over your logo is a great option, sometimes adding spot UV over all of your contact information isn’t the best choice, especially if that text is set in an extremely thin font. The reason for this is because spot gloss over very thin lines or text can make slight alignment issues between spot UV gloss and ink become noticeable where they otherwise wouldn’t be.
Want to know a secret for creating a stand out business card design with spot UV gloss? It is called “blind spot UV”. Blind spot UV is a technique where the design elements that appear in spot UV do not also appear in the ink design (we call it blind because the gloss doesn’t have a counterpart appearing in ink). A example could be a spot UV pattern applied over the entire business card, where that pattern does not exist in ink (the above photo is a perfect example). See our article on what is spot gloss and spot UV for a complete description of blind spot gloss and how you can use it successfully on your luxury business cards.
Hot Foil Stamping, CMYK Foil, and Raised Foil
Similar to spot gloss effects, foil effects work great with silk and suede business cards because of the difference in texture and the contrast of reflectivity versus matte. Foil is a more expensive effect than spot UV, and it takes longer to produce because of additional equipment and processes involved.
Foil effects come in three primary varieties, each with its own strengths and weaknesses:
Hot Foil Stamping
The most traditional out of the three is hot foil stamping. At Vermillion Silk we offer multiple foil colors that can be applied over our silk business cards. This type of foil effect has been around for awhile, but is very popular because it provides great results.
The mix of textures from the combined use of foil stamping, silk lamination and spot UV results in a business card that can really blow people away.
The only potential downside to this type of foil process versus others is that it takes longer to produce since business cards will need to go through a separate setup process in order to have foil added to them.
This process requires pressure and heat in order for the foil to adhere properly. Large foil blocks are best applied under a lower pressure so that there is no cracking in the foil. Extremely thin foil needs to be applied with greater pressure to ensure all the detail comes out. It is rare to come across a design that our skilled press operators won’t be able to work with, but you might want to be careful in combining large blocks of foil with thin foil details.
Raised foil doesn’t require heat or pressure like traditional foil stamping. A polymer is used along with the foil to create a raised effect that gives raised foil business cards their 3D, embossed feel.
There isn’t the same kind of additional equipment setup required for raised foil business cards, so they can generally be completed much quicker than hot foil stamped business cards. If you considered an embossed business card, then raised foil is a more affordable process and in our opinion it looks better than embossing.
The downside to this process versus hot foil stamping or CMYK foil is that raised foil is slightly more expensive, and can only be added by a specific type of digital press whereas foil stamping and CMYK foil cards are printed on offset presses for the highest fidelity in text and images.
If you’d like to learn more, we’ve written about the difference between raised foil and flat foil stamping.
CMYK Foil or Inline Foil
CMYK foil (more commonly called inline foil) is a special foil process in which a foil is added underneath the ink during printing. Any CMYK colors printed on top of this foil will take on the foil appearance.
The benefit of this process is that it allows for any CMYK color to appear in foil, even color gradients! Other foil processes have limited foil colors available because they are either physical foil or a foil plus polymer.
There are two downsides to this process in comparison to other foil effects. First, the reflectivity and shine of CMYK foil is not quite as strong as hot foil stamping or raised foil. Second, because CMYK foil is added underneath the ink, we cannot apply our silk or suede laminations to CMYK foil cards since the laminate coating would cover the CMYK foil and dull the effect.
As a result of these downsides, we recommend CMYK foil when your business card design either needs multiple uncommon colors of foil, or if you need a specific color matched in foil. Otherwise, foil stamping or raised foil will be more luxurious looking options.
Cutting, Rounded Corners, and Business Card Sizes
We prefer the standard business card size of 3.5”x2” (This is the standard size for the US and Canada. International business card sizes differ slightly). We also offer 1/8” rounded corners and 1/4” rounded corners. The first which adds a nice touch to your design and also provides protection to prevent corners from getting beat up in a pocket or purse. 1/4” rounded corners on the other hand provide similar benefits, but have a much more rounded look because of the increased radius. In our opinion 1/4” rounded corners look best when paired with business card designs that have many round elements in the design. We don’t like business cards with banged up corners, which is one of the reasons we love rounded corner business cards.
While having a completely custom die-cut shape for your business card might seem attractive, there are two important considerations to make if this is something you are interested in. First, the cost will increase significantly. Second, and more importantly, if your die-cut business card shape is too different, it won’t fit nicely in someone’s wallet or with their other business cards. You want to create a business card that someone keeps around. While the uniqueness of custom shapes might help add novelty, it also adds inconvenience. It is for that reason that we do not offer complete custom die-cut shapes. Instead we offer standard, slim, super slim, square and credit card size business cards.
Wrapping Up - Which Options Are Right for Your Luxury Business Cards?
We understand that whether you are a veteran graphic designer or it is your first time ordering business cards for your business, these luxury print options can be confusing. Hopefully this article helped you decide what options are best for your luxury business cards. Will you choose a simple suede business card with rounded corners, or will you go all out with foil stamping and spot gloss? For more inspiration, take a look at our unique business card gallery to see some of our favorite business cards.
To make artwork setup easier, get started with our file preparation package here. We offer complimentary digital proofs and artwork review with every order. If you have any questions about our printing processes, or what might work best for your design, please reach out and a print specialist will be happy to help you.
Did you know, pretty much all of what we covered here applies to luxury postcard printing as well!
If you’d like to see some of these luxury business cards in person, you can order our sample pack here.
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