Design insights & tutorials.

Print Technique: Reflecting on Strike-Through Varnish

reflecting stricke-through varnish

When most of us want to add additional flair to our print project, we automatically look for elaborate finishing processes to help us accomplish this, forgetting that a well-designed spot varnish can really take the perception of quality and design up a few notches. Unfortunately, most people look to spot UV to hit this mark, since it’s immediately recognizable based on its high-gloss, wet-look appearance.

Spot UV’s Dirty Little Secret

While spot UV truly does produce a beautiful product, it’s sort of like the Las Vegas of the print world…..all the glamor and glitz, with lots of dirty little secrets. First, it’s a petroleum-based product, and the last thing any of us need is for your postcards, business cards, or annual report to further our dependency on foreign oil. Second, spot UV can be very expensive and typically runs off-line, as an additional process.

So, why bring it up if I’m only going to talk you out of using it? Because I can offer you a comparable, but much greener process!

Go Greener with a Strike-Through Varnish

Here’s how it works: The contrasting glossy vs. matte effects are accomplished using our water-based coatings and a strike-through varnish, printed as an ink, inline on our presses. First, the dull/matte strike-through varnish is put down with a traditional printing plate in the areas that are to stay matte. At the end of our presses, an overall flood of our gloss aqueous coating is applied.

As it cures, the gloss coating is dulled down in the areas where the strike-through matte varnish had been applied. Also, since we’re using a traditional printing plate in a standard print unit on our press, we can achieve as much detail as we want. Otherwise, you have to cut a coating blanket specifically for the areas where you want glossy, and that blanket can only be used for that press run or project.

Strike-through varnish

When designing for this, remember that, because it’s a water-based setup, the contrast is not as dramatic as the petroleum-based UV. However, keeping the varnish design on a darker, solid-color background will ensure you get the maximum amount of visual appeal out of this process.

Get The Guides

For more info on how to setup your spot varnish files, download the PDF of your preference:

About the Author, Nick DeTomaso / Jakprints Inc.

I've spent nearly a decade managing the sales and operations for Jakprints’ has experienced triple digit percentages in growth & expansion, has received Printing Excellence awards from the PIA (Printing Industry Association), and is a two-time recipient of the highly regarded Weather 100, which showcases the fastest and consistently growing companies in the northern Ohio region.
Discover More by Nick DeTomaso / Jakprints Inc.


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  • Simon H.

    Thanks for this one!

  • Jimmy Smutek

    Nice, thanks for this.

    I recently ordered a sample book from you guys (jakprints) – very nice stuff.

  • Yo

    404 on the downloadable PDF's.

  • marcoscortesdominicanrepublic

    amazinggggg!!!! thanx 4 share

  • marcoscortesdominicanrepublic

    you got a problem with the links !!!

  • danielnelson

    Interesting article, but as already mentioned the links are broken. :)

  • Max Bukey

    404 error ((( on all download links

  • Name

    I'm getting 404 error on all PDF files.

  • Nick DeTomaso

    Sorry guys! Please substitute “jakprints” for “gomediazine” in the links and it'll work. Didn't realize I had linked those improperly. My bad, but thanks for the feedback!

  • George Coghill

    Links have been fixed, sorry about the mixup.

  • jeff_finley

    Ok download links are fixed guys

  • Jessica

    Cool. Very good info! Thanks!

  • Name

    links still broken

  • cet

    Nice, thanks for this.
    dizi izle

  • Matt

    Thanks for this nice work!
    dizi izle

  • panax

     thanks for this.

  • panax

    Thanks for the advice, this was a great project with my son