Invitations can be overwhelming. Paper, print methods, colors, embellishments.. there are so many options and while those are the things I love about invitations, someone who is not as familiar may feel like there are too many options.
Let’s get to know the most popular print methods, and I’ll also reveal my preferred print method at the end of the post - you might be surprised to hear what it is!
DIGITAL - $
Digital is your most basic and affordable print method. A design gets sent to the printer, and little dots of color get laid out on a page, creating your design. It usually looks pretty similar to what you see on screen in terms of color, but it is always for a good idea for you or your designer to get a hard copy proof to check the color, print quality and appearance on the overall page. Your designer will usually do this, so if you’re working with one, you won’t need to worry about this!
Digital is great because you can use an unlimited number of colors on the page, and also a larger area of ink (vs a smaller area) won’t cost much more, if anything. You can also use almost any type of paper, even the ones traditionally used for letterpress, like cotton! Doing so can give your digitally printed piece a distinct look. Other alternatives to nicer paper include the more standard “felt” and “linen” papers. Felt is a nice textured paper that looks somewhat like watercolor paper, but has a more regular pattern. I love using felt paper when the budget calls for something slightly more affordable than cotton paper. It can give a minimal design a more interesting and unique look. Linen is pretty self explanatory, and just has a linen texture to the paper. I don’t use linen as much, but can really be great when paired with the right design.
LETTERPRESS - $$ / $$$
Letterpress is wonderful, let’s just start with that. Textured cotton papers with beautiful ink impressions.. this printing method is obviously all about the texture you get from the metal plate being pressed into the surface of the paper. Designs created for letterpress must all be formatted as vectors, which then are created into a plate. Ink is applied onto the rollers of the press, and it transfers to the paper via the raised parts of the metal plate (which are the “positive space” areas on your design). The thicker the paper is, the deeper the impression can be, which gives it a very luxurious look.
Letterpress can be difficult because it is costly. Most of the costs come from the making of the plate, and every different design needs a different plate (Invitation, RSVP card, etc. - each of these would be a different plate). Also, it is a bit more limited in terms of color. Because every color area requires a separate plate to be made, it can be very expensive if doing more than one color. And one more thing - really thin lines and intricate designs don’t tend to show well with letterpress because really thin lines will break on the metal plate. Letterpress really shines when paired with clean calligraphy or fonts, and you can use so many different thicknesses of paper.
FOIL STAMPING - $$ / $$$
There’s no denying that foil is absolutely stunning. Foil is similar to letterpress in that your design is cast into a metal plate (but usually it’s called a die with foil stamping) and that it’s one color at a time, per die. Designs for foil stamping should also be created as vectors, and heat is used to press the foil into the paper. Real foil stamping creates a slight impression in the paper because it is literally stamped or pressed onto the paper. Usually, doing larger areas of foil can cost more, for obvious reasons.
Foil stamping is also expensive for similar reasons as letterpress, and has similar limitations in terms of color and very thin or intricate designs. Foil obviously makes a statement, and it usually looks best when used to highlight certain items (names in calligraphy, etc).
If we were talking about my favorite, it would probably be letterpress just because of how beautiful the texture is, but my preferred method for personal and client use is digital! You might be surprised because stationery designers are all about letterpress and foil and all. While I absolutely love those two methods, digital provides a huge range of options and looks so beautiful when printed on the right paper (none of that glossy card stock, no thank you). It’s also cost effective, leaving room in the budget to do calligraphy addressing or whatever else your heart desires!
What is your favorite print method? What else are you curious to know about printing? Leave me a note in the comments!