Embossed business christmas cards 17

Deboss vs. Emboss

While discussing with clients about their card expectations, we face with terminology dilemma – what method should be used – printing with the impression, pop out, emboss, deboss. Some customers or designers use specific technical terms but imagine something different, so in this article we will try to make everything more clear about deboss vs. emboss.


Nowadays for letterpress printed business cards, invitations or postcards is used thick and little bit fluffy papers, of which best looking is pure cotton paper.

Cotton fiber papers that are suitable for printing perfectly fits for deformation, that is why this type of paper achieves good stable impression. Cards printed on cotton paper looks very special, and objects delicately debossed with ink will last forever almost unchanged. Letterpress printing with impression and without any ink is called Blind Deboss.

If deboss is done professionally there should not be visible any mark of stamping on the opposite side. Depending on paper and its color there will be just visible a slight change of paper texture.


Letterpress deboss bruising on the back side of business card
This photo shows how looks letterpress deboss and back of the paper sheet after impression.

Deboss on double-sided cards

The best option is to print one-sided cards with the impression (deboss). But also it is possible to deboss double-sided card too. If the design is done without overlapping on opposite sides, then deboss can be done on one sheet of paper, only a thicker paper stock should be selected to prevent the card from distorting.

Sometimes, even if debossed objects are overlapping, but are not bold and quite thin, they can be printed on one sheet of paper, just have to note that objects that will overlap on one side will be flattened, as physically paper cannot achieve impression in the same place on both sides.

If the double-sided design is done with overlapping, and objects are quite massive, we always recommend to print them by using duplexing technology – both sides print on two separate paper sheets and glue them to one thick stock. Impression while printing on a thinner stock is not that deep if comparing with printing on thick stock, but while printing this way it is achieved both side impression, and it looks much more beautiful than unevenly printed objects.


Emboss printing is when the object is pop out of the paper surface. To achieve such effect need to be used two printing forms – die and counter die. And always need to know that emboss is visible on both sides – one side pop out, on the other side impression into the paper.

letterpress business card with blind emboss
This image shows blind embossed logo and contact details printed with grey ink and deboss.

Emboss on double-sided card

We often advise that embossed and debossed objects do not interfere with each other, especially if a small text is included into emboss area. Because paper is raised while embossing, then the text is deformed in that place and information text lines can look not straight, but wavy.

Cards can be produced the way that emboss can be visible only on one side. This way printed cards have to be duplexed with a flat paper sheet. Such card is more expensive as the paper sheets need to be specially duplexed and also cannot be regular guillotine cut so need to be special die cut.

letterpress-business card with blind emboss
Here you can see embossed logo of the angry bird and flat sheet of the paper letterpress printed with deboss on the back side.

Deboss and emboss can be done without ink (blind emboss/deboss)) and with ink. Usually, embossed objects better look done without ink, because, due to falling shadows, it looks much more expressive then emboss with ink or foil. Check out how impressive can look embossed business cards.

Emboss with ink

Emboss can be done with ink. In such cases, first of all your artwork should be printed with ink and after that, areas, where raised objects required, should be embossed. Please note that embossing with ink takes more time and would cost more expensive than letterpress printing because printer should do 2 operations with at least 2 printing forms – one for printing and one for embossing.

Emboss With Ink
This photo shows embossed logo printed in white color on black paper.

Emboss with foil

Emboss with foil can be done in 2 ways. Firs one is similar to embossing with ink – in first pass objects should be foiled (covered with foil) and in the second pass emboss should be done by using a set of embossing forms.

Emboss with foil printing techniques
Here you can see how looks foiled and embossed logo printed in one pass.

Another different way is that foiling and embossing could be done in one single pass. In this case, special relief foiling forms should be used and such emboss with foil looks a little bit differently if compared to the first method, because printed objects always have thin contour around them. Check out an image on the end of this article, some people really like foiled objects with thin contour.

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