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Using Paper Texture to Tell Your Story

July 16, 2013 Gina Gallup

paperI love my iPad. It’s one of my favorite and most useful Christmas gifts ever. I love its beautiful retina display, the multiple apps, the myriad capabilities like taking notes, reading books, playing games, writing blogs, emailing. I’m also spoiled by my smartphone. Between them, I am not only accessible to others, I have access to the world.

Today’s graphic design is geared toward these digital experiences. No matter where I am, I can view a website and learn about a company, restaurant or clothing shop. I can pull up a person’s contact information quicker on my phone than I can find a business card. I don’t have to worry about losing a coupon if it’s in my email or an app.

And I love it. We’re living in the future.

All that said, I’m not ready to give up on paper just yet.

Emboss sample

Emboss/deboss sample

Have you ever been handed a business card and done a double take because it felt so thick or unusual? Have you ever had a piece of junk mail stand out because the texture was unexpected? Have you ever felt the need to touch a book or brochure because it was embossed?

Paper, and the finishes on paper, can elevate a design and message. It can imply strength or durability; it can make something seem more modern or natural or playful or green or historical.

It’s not something everyone thinks about, but there are many different kinds of paper. The two main groups are coated paper and uncoated paper, and there are further distinctions within those classifications.

Coated paper can include glossy, matte or dull. Plus, there are different grades of paper that can change the way ink lays on it. The paper can have an additional varnish or aqueous coating or UV hit to accentuate certain images or text.

Paper, and the finishes on paper, can elevate a design and message. It can imply strength or durability; it can make something seem more modern or natural or playful or green or historical.

Uncoated paper has even more variations – from vellum to smooth to laid finish to patterns within the paper. There are multiple color options, metallic options, translucent papers, watermarks and more.

Both coated and uncoated papers can be diecut, embossed or foil stamped, or all three. These kinds of finishes add an extra touch that can set one printed piece apart from another.

foil stamp sample

Foil stamp sample, with embossing

The trick is in knowing which papers and techniques to use at the right time. It should fit the audience, the message and the overall design.

I know that technology, economy and the environment are playing a role in our use of paper these days (or lack thereof).

But paper is still important. It’s personal and portable. It has value and consistency. And it is effective – whether it’s a note to a friend, a business tool or a marketing device. Even though we may use paper less than we used to, we can make its use more impactful than ever before by selecting the right paper and finish to further the message.

I’m not giving up my iPad, but it will never affect me like paper.

 

 

One comment on “Using Paper Texture to Tell Your Story
  1. Stephen says:

    Interesting read, especially the terms UV hit, etc., I still enjoy the touch of the paper, the solidity of print.

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