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Get to know Foil Printing – Digital and Block Foiling explained

Want to add a little extra to your print? We’ve recently introduced a range of six extra special print finishes – Spot UV, Block Foiling, Die Cutting, Laser Cutting, White Ink and Digital Foiling.

Not sure where to start? We’re starting off with an in-depth look at Foil printing – both Digital and Block Foiling methods – what they’re used for, how we create it and all the need-to-know info about this metallic print finish.


First of all, what is it?

There are two ways to apply Foil to your print – Digital Foil printing and Block Foil printing. Traditional Foil Blocking (or hot foil stamping) involves applying metallic foil to paper or card, using heated plates (or die). This leaves your foiled elements slightly debossed and textured – as the foil is hot pressed onto your card or paper stock. This process works best on uncoated, thicker paper stocks.

Unlike traditional Foil Blocking, Digital Foiling doesn’t require the use of plates – it’s printed directly from a file on the computer. This means that there are no set up costs, making it ideal for short runs and smaller orders. Find out more about the process and the differences here.


Where is Foiling used?

Traditional Block Foiling is one of the oldest printing methods around – when you think of Block Foiling it usually evokes heavy leather-bound books with gold embossing. Today’s processes aren’t all that much different, and you can get a similar effect on a range of different paper types. Block Foiling doesn’t have any restrictions when it comes to paper choices, so if you want a thick luxury paper, embossed with foiled accents, it’s the perfect choice. You’ll often see Block Foiling used for things like luxury brochures, upmarket Invitations and heavy-weight Business Cards. As it’s tied to closely to luxurious print, it’s the ideal way to bring an air of prestige. If you’ve got an extra special announcement, an award or certificate to hand out, or you want to elevate your Business Stationery, Block Foiling is a great choice.


Since its inception, print companies (like us) have been looking for ways to make this printing method both more affordable and easier to produce. Digital Foiling is a new process, and it’s a quicker, cheaper way to add metallic elements to your print. It’s ideal for short-run print jobs and adding to things like Wedding Stationery, Business Cards and Greeting Cards.


Who can use Foiling?

Worried you won’t have the print ‘know-how’ to create your own foiled artwork? Don’t worry! Getting set up for Digital Foiling is as easy as adding an extra file to your finished PDF (showing us where to add foiling to your print) – and we’ve got a handy guide and video to walk you through the process. You can download your guide here, and watch the video here.

Block Foiling is a little different, and every Block foil job we process is Bespoke. If you want to create Bespoke Block Foiled print, you can start by filling out our Bespoke Form, below, or  getting in touch with them by phone, every weekday 8.30am ‘til 6pm on: 0800 840 1430, or drop them an email to: or chat live on site.


Is Foil Printing expensive?

Adding a special finish to your print does mean that it’ll cost a little more. Block Foiling requires a more labour-intensive process, as your foiled elements must first be created as a stamp, which will them be fitted to a printing machine and each of your prints will be ‘stamped’ and finished by hand to create your finish.


Digital Foiling is a more affordable method, and doesn’t require the use of plates or stamps, which means we can print it directly from a file onto your artwork. If you’re looking for a shiny finish, on our standard paper stocks (Silk, Uncoated and TruCard), Digital Foiling is ideal.


If you’re still not sure, our team are on hand to talk you through your options and help you choose the right finish, so even if your foiled print project is just an idea, talk to us today! We’ll be happy to help!


Get a Bespoke Block Foil quote

Discover Digital Foil Printing


About the author

Jack knows everything there is to know about print. With nearly 20 years’ experience, he's an expert in everything from print floor processes to product specifications. When he’s not flexing his printing knowledge you’ll find him looking after his cat, Turnip. No really. That’s her actual name.

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