You might think that all print work is created equal – it isn’t. When it comes to making your artwork really stand out, it’s those finishing touches that make the difference. But how do you choose the right printing finish for your artwork?

Let’s take a look at the different types of finishes and the benefits of each. Remember, you don’t have to decide alone. Our designers and print experts at B&D Print are on hand to exert their knowledge and help you make the right decision.

Varnishes – matte or gloss?

No, we’re not talking about wood varnish here. Having your print work finished with a varnish gives your marketing materials a professional and clean look. Plus, you have options to choose from. Varnish doesn’t always mean shiny when it comes to print. However, you can choose a glossy finish, similar to that in a magazine, or matte, which means your print work won’t have a shiny appearance to it. 

Varnishing finishes are completely your choice, but can impact the way a piece of marketing or artwork is perceived. The benefits of a gloss finish might make it more appealing initially, catching the attention of your target audience. Print work tends to stand out more with a glossy finish. However, this also means your artwork will be susceptible to glare.

With matte finishes, it allows you to be versatile with printing types and gives that modern, professional look that many brands are after at the moment. The downside to matte finishes is that you need to ensure you’re using professional matte paper to print on, so that the impact of your artwork and design isn’t affected.

There are a couple of additional varnishes we haven’t mentioned yet, including silk varnish. This is in between gloss and matt in terms of shininess, so is ideal for brands looking to make a more subtle impact with their print work.

If touch is just as important to you as appearance, then why not opt for a soft touch finish? This varnish creates a velvet feel to artwork, adding an element of luxury and sumptuousness. Divine! If you’re craving more of the luxury feel and want to add a bit of pizzazz to your work, then you can also add a glitter varnish. This is great for those showstopper pieces and giving your brand an extra sprinkle of personality.

Finally, there’s anti-bacterial / anti viral varnishing, which ensures that your marketing collateral, including menus and leaflets, can be handled as safely as possible by customers. 


If you need extra protection for your marketing collateral, for example, menus, print catalogues, or business cards, laminating your artwork could be an option. We’re not talking old school lamination, like you might find in a classroom, but protective coatings that keep your marketing materials looking as you intended.

Again, like varnishes, you have the option of gloss or matte with lamination. Gloss lamination can make your designs really pop and add an element of luxury. Matte lamination is far more subtle, giving elegance over extravagance.

If your marketing or print work is going to be situated under bright lights, then matte lamination would be a better choice to reduce glare. But if you’re looking to make more of an impact, then go for gloss. Gloss lamination does tend to be less expensive than matte too.

What if your print work is going to be handled by customers on a day-to-day basis? You can also choose anti-scuff matte lamination, stopping your matte appearance from encountering marks and scratches.

Alongside the above lamination options, you can also choose from silk, soft-touch, and linen effect, just like in our varnishing section. Matte and gloss laminates can also come in biodegradable materials too, so make sure you ask your print supplier if they can provide this.

Lamination can enhance the life of your marketing collateral, ensuring you’re not having to print time and time again, as well as protecting the look and feel of your artwork.

Spot UV varnish

If you fancy a mix of both matte and gloss, then spot UV varnish may be the right choice. With this method, certain elements on the surface of the print work are coated by UV light, resulting in a glossy finish. This can help make certain elements stand out more, for a really professional look.

You can also do a matte spot UV varnish too. This means your materials would be predominantly gloss, with spot UV area that’s matte. This creates a more subtle and unique feel.

If you really want to make an impact, spot UVs can come in glitter and sparkle too, really making your marketing collateral stand out. Ideal for invitations and trade shows.

Foil embossing or stamping

Another way to make certain words or elements in your print work stand out is through foil embossing or stamping. Metallic foil is embossed or stamped to the surface. This is usually in a variety of different colours, so you can stay on brand, whilst still looking fancy.

Choosing foil stamping can help make a simple design pop and capture the attention of your audience. It’s ideal if you have a luxury brand catalogue or brochure.


If you want to try adding a bit of interest to your artwork, without changing the colour or adding metallic elements, then simple embossing may be the way to go. Add texture and detail to your pieces, without changing the design. This is a great way to make your designs really stand out, but keeping things simple at the same time.

However, as seen in our previous point, you can incorporate embossing with other printing methods, such as foil.

If you need any assistance with choosing the right printing finish for your artwork or marketing collateral, contact the experts at B&D Print today.

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