Congratulations cards with partial varnish made easy


Hi there,
here i am again with a new print tutorial.

Christmas / Holidays are glittering. Nothing makes holiday cards more decorative than glitter, or gold and silver lacquer.

However, artists often fail to prepare the files for this type of printing accordingly for the print shops, which is why I will show you today how you can create your file accordingly in a few steps.

Step 1

Depending on the size of your holiday cards, you can create your motif accordingly.
It is not absolutely necessary to do this in advance, but it can help with the design of the motif. But I definitely recommend drawing the contours on vector layers, so you can enlarge the motif at will at any time, should you need it in a different format.

In my case, I created the motif from the start as an A6 postcard:

Attention: Print shops always need a bleed margin *, you shouldn't forget this and take it into account.
In my case the file has a trim of 111x154 mm (3mm trim)

If you want to see the trimmed edge, you can go to View -> Ruler

If you now hold the left mouse button pressed over the ruler, you can create an auxiliary line

Places the guides in the appropriate place.
In my case
3mm, 151mm
3mm, 108mm
(just add or subtract 3mm on each side)

Now you have made the bleed "visible".

In the next step you can create your illustration.

step 2

Now save your illustration in a Photoshop compatible format.
It is possible to save the file as .psd, but you should compress all layers to one beforehand.

The next step requires an additional graphics program that has "channels" and can save images as .pdf.
I use Photoshop CS6 myself, but older versions are also suitable, or similar programs.

Either you can now open your .psd file with this program, or you create a new file with the appropriate dimensions.
If you open your .psd file, you should change the image mode to CMYK * (Image -> Mode -> CMYK).

If you create a new file, it must be created as a CMYK file.

If you have created a new file, you can simply "drag" the image from the desktop into the program.
You then have the option to enlarge or reduce it as you wish.
You can do this manually by moving the "black corners" or via the control panel.
TIP: If you hold down Shift while moving the corners, the aspect ratio is preserved

In the next step you can create your text and align it in the middle.
New versions of Photoshop automatically show you whether the text is in the middle.
with older versions you can simply draw a guide.

If you now go to the text level (just click on the level, not the text) and go to Edit -> Transform (or command + T) a box appears around your text and you can place it in the middle.
The same is also suitable for centering the illustration.

step 3

If you are satisfied with the design you can finally create the paint.

There are now two options: Either you put everything that should be covered by the paint on one level, or you hide the layers that should not be covered by the paint.

If you have everything on one level, take the magic wand and remove the tick at "pick up all levels".
If you have it on different levels, activate the check mark at "Include all levels" and hide the levels that should not be recorded.

Click on an "empty" place in the picture, then everything should be selected that you would like to have covered with paint.
then go to Selection -> Invert

In the next step, only go to "Channels". To the right of this you will find a small symbol. Press it and get different options.

(If you can't find "Channels", go to Window -> Channels to display them.

Now select "New spot color channel"

Now a pop-up appears and you can name the channel.
Attention: Every print shop has different requirements. Please check the print specifications of your print shop for how to name this spot color and how to define this color.
In my case, the spot color channel is called "glitter" and can be defined as 100% magenta (C: 0 M100, Y: 0, K: 0)
You can set the color by clicking on the color box, another pop-up appears in which you can define the color.

Presses "Ok". Now you should have a new channel and everything you want covered with paint should now appear in a different color.

Don't worry: the color only shows the printer where you want your partial varnish. It is not visible on the end product, so you create it as a separate channel.

Now save your postcard as .pdf and make sure that solid colors are activated.

Step 4 (optional)

If you still want to create a back for your postcards, you will find numerous print templates on the Internet (usually even from the printers themselves) that can be easily edited.

Note: If you want to print a text on the back of the card, it should be 3 mm from the edge of the finished product format.
You can simply draw guidelines again.
The blue border shows you the safety distance for the text and the red the bleed, which will no longer be visible in the finished printed product.

Step 5

Congratulations! You can now send your card to the print shop.

I hope tutorial has helped you. Please note that the print settings can vary from print shop to print shop and carefully check the specifications.

* trimming

The bleed is a safety margin that guarantees that there are no white borders, also called "speed cameras".

Because, contrary to what you might suspect, your print files are not printed on a sheet of paper of the appropriate size, but with other pages together on large sheets of paper.
After printing, these are cut to the appropriate size using a laser. Since this does not work 100% exactly, it has an error tolerance, which corresponds to "trimming" or "bleed".
It is therefore not recommended to simply draw a white border around the page, as this will be visible in the print if the laser has not worked exactly.


The CMYK mode stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and black (the K probably comes from key-plate).

Each printer has four cartridges with these colors and creates your print file by mixing them. One can speak of a four-color print.

While the RGB mode of your screen can display a variety of colors, the CMYK mode can display significantly fewer colors. This is because they have to be mixed from the four basic colors.
That is why you should always send your files to the print shop in CMYK mode.
Of course, you can also send them to them in RGB mode, only they will then be converted automatically before printing and the result may look different than desired.
If you convert the data yourself, you can ensure that the colors look as desired and adjust them if necessary.
The differences can be striking, especially in light colors, as in this example (left RGB, right CMYK).


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