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Varnish: The Finishing Touch

Although varnishes are actually part of the printing process, most people usually think of them as something that is added during the finishing process.

Varnishes are used to make a print job stand out and give it a slicker look. To achieve varnishing, an extra coating is put on all or certain areas of a printed piece.

The varnish itself is actually a liquid shellac or plastic that is used like an ink on the printing press. It can be loaded just like an ink color and applied after all of the ink has been printed on the paper. A varnish can be clear or tinted and can give either a glossy or a dull-finish. Designers use varnishes in a variety of ways to create a number of different effects and styles.

One thing to keep in mind: varnishes are best used on coated stocks. Uncoated stocks tend to soak the varnish into the paper so it's virtually invisible and therefore a complete waste. I once saw five coats of varnish applied to an uncoated stock and couldn't tell that any had been applied. Also keep in mind that designers and printers should check to make sure that the combination of the coated stock and the varnish will not create a too much of a reflection. You donít want to blind your readers!

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