How Coatings, Lamination Films, and Finishing Processes Can Impact Print Colors

Many things can affect how your print colors appear. The aesthetics and overall effect of a final printed piece are not solely determined by the quality of ink and paper. In fact, the finishing touches, such as coatings, lamination films, and various other processes, play a pivotal role in enhancing both the visual appeal and durability of printed materials. At Lithographics, we’ve mastered many of the most effective and beautiful finishing techniques that can influence and transform the colors of your printed masterpiece. Here’s what to keep in mind when planning your next print project.



Let’s start with one of the most common categories of finishing effects. Coatings are applied to printed materials to protect, enhance, and add a touch of sophistication to the final product. The two primary types of coatings are aqueous and UV coatings, and they each require different processes and create different effects.

  • Aqueous Coatings: These coatings are water-based and can either be glossy or matte. A glossy aqueous coating can intensify colors, providing a vibrant and eye-catching appearance. On the other hand, a matte coating can lend a subdued elegance to the printed piece, muting the colors slightly for a more sophisticated finish.
  • UV Coatings: UV coatings are cured using ultraviolet light, offering a high level of gloss and durability. They have the ability to make colors pop, creating a stunning visual impact. UV coatings are particularly effective in bringing out the vibrancy of photographs and graphics.


Lamination Films

Lamination involves covering printed materials with a thin layer of plastic film, offering both protection and aesthetic enhancements. The choice of lamination film can significantly influence the perceived colors of the print. In general, you’ll work with your print partner to choose between gloss and matte lamination styles:

  • Gloss Lamination: Similar to glossy coatings, gloss lamination enhances color saturation, providing a glossy, reflective finish. This is particularly effective for marketing materials, where vibrant colors can attract attention and convey a sense of liveliness.
  • Matte Lamination: Matte lamination, on the other hand, imparts a subtle and sophisticated look by reducing glare. While it may slightly dull the colors, it adds a tactile quality to the print, making it more inviting to touch.


Spot UV and Foils

Spot UV coating is a technique that involves applying a glossy coating to specific areas of the print, creating a contrast between matte and glossy surfaces. It not only draws attention to specific design elements but also enhances color vibrancy in the coated areas. The end result is beautiful print colors.

Metallic or colored foils can be applied to printed pieces for a luxurious and eye-catching effect. While foils themselves do not alter the base color, they can create dynamic contrasts that highlight certain design elements.


Embossing and Debossing

One of the oldest sensory effects in print is embossing or debossing. These techniques add a touch of elegance in a subtle, tactile way.

By raising certain parts of the print, embossing adds texture and depth, which can impact how print colors are perceived. The play of light and shadow on the embossed areas can create visually stunning effects, enhancing the overall appeal of the print.

In contrast, debossing involves pressing certain areas down, creating a depressed effect. This can subtly influence how colors are perceived by altering the way light interacts with the surface.


Coatings, lamination films, and other finishing processes are not mere protective layers; they are artistic tools that can transform the colors of your printed piece. Understanding how these elements interact with colors allows designers and print professionals to craft visually stunning and impactful prints that captivate and engage the audience. The next time you embark on a printing project, consider the palette of possibilities that finishing processes offer, and talk to the Nashville print experts at Lithographics to learn more about how these unique processes can make your print pieces truly stand out.

We offer a wide range of print solutions, from digital printing to offset printing and much more. Give our print shop a call today to get started.