What is Spot UV and Spot Gloss in Printing?

Spot UV and spot gloss are common terms for the print finishing technique of applying a high gloss UV coating to a selective area on a printed piece.

A common use of spot UV is to draw attention to a certain area of the printed piece, such as placing spot UV over a logo so that only the logo area is glossy. We offer spot UV as an option for our luxury business card printing and postcard printing, but it is also commonly used on packaging, flyers, brochures and other printed materials.

spot uv business cards gloss and silk coated Silk with spot UV gloss over the logo.

What is Blind Spot UV and How is it Different from Spot UV?

Blind spot UV is simply a different use of spot UV as a creative design choice, but the technical way in which it is applied and the gloss effect itself is the same.

Typically spot UV is prepared for printing by including a separate mask file usually in black and white with black indicating where the UV will be placed. This mask file lets the press know where spot UV should be applied. In most applications the spot UV area in the mask will match a design element underneath it exactly so that the design element below is covered in gloss. Blind spot UV is the process of having the spot UV mask design element exist in the mask file only as a creative effect. For example having a logo or pattern in spot UV that is applied over an area of the ink without that same logo or pattern (a solid colored background for instance).

silver foil business cards with blind spot uv gloss
Suede cards with blind spot uv on both sides. Note the use of spot gloss on both white and black areas of the card.

Because spot UV gloss is clear, it can be applied as a pattern across the entire printed piece without negatively impacting the readability of any wording underneath it. In the photo above, you can see that blind spot gloss is applied in a pattern across the entire card, but it does not affect the readability of the contact info below it.

The interesting effect created by blind spot UV is most common on business cards and printed pieces that have a dark color or black background. The reason for this is that over an uncoated, matte finished or silk coated card stock or paper, spot UV will increase the contrast of the color below. This means that blacks will appear blacker in the area that spot UV is applied. (This is especially true for thicker matte coatings like the silk coating we use which reduces the deepness of blacks slightly. The spot UV will bring back the deep contrast of the ink underneath)

black silk business cards with blind spot uv gloss
Silk business cards with blind spot UV wording over entire front and tree pattern UV over back contact info.

This doesn’t mean spot UV and blind spot UV designs don’t work well over white and light colors. They work very well, but create a different effect. Instead of being visible as a darker/higher contrast area on the printed piece when light is not directly reflected on it, white and light inks underneath spot UV gloss will cause the gloss effect to become barely visible when it does not have a direct reflection. This is its own unique effect because with the use of blind spot UV especially, tilting the printed piece so that light reflects more directly on it will cause a pattern or design element to reflect an appear in the UV that might not have been seen at the previous angle.

suede business cards with blind spot uv gloss
Foil stamped business cards with a repeating blind spot UV pattern covering entire card.

Make your Business Cards Unique and Luxurious with Spot UV

To summarize, combining spot UV over a silk business card has multiple benefits. First, it will create a unique attention grabbing effect where the gloss area reflects in the light. Second, when not reflecting in the light, spot UV over a dark color will further increase the contrast of that color. Finally, over a silk coating or similar smooth matte finish, spot UV gloss creates a difference in texture which results in a pleasant and luxurious effect felt by rubbing a thumb or finger across the business card.

spot uv silk business cards with silver foil stamping and two corners rounded
Spot gloss silk business cards with silver foil stamping and two corners rounded. Back side spot uv over text.

See more examples of spot UV and blind spot UV gloss applications in our unique business card gallery, or see them in person by ordering a silk card sample pack. Finally, if you have any questions when you are designing your own business cards with spot UV, please feel free to contact one of our print specialists for a complimentary artwork review!

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