• Spot varnishing

    This is a special effect of highlighting images with gloss or matt varnish (which could either be spot use of aqueous ‘AQ’ or ultra-violet coating finishes) and applying varnish on those specific areas of the images on the printed piece. It can be used to make photographs pop off the page, create texture or highlight drop caps and subtle images on a page leaving an enhanced visual impression. Spot varnishing can be achieved by an IR or UV basis. In page layout, spot varnishing is specified as a new spot color. When you are creating a spot varnish for multiple objects or elements it is advisable that you use a new layer and place all the new future elements in it.

    Creating a spot color is just as simple as turning a key in a lock. It does not require much time but just a few minutes. Here is a step by step procedure on how you can create spot color varnishing successfully;

    Create a new spot color

    In your application of page layout, start a new spot varnish naming it with your own name like varnish or spot color. This would be in Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress software. Give your spot color varnish any color of your choice. Varnishes are usually transparent and therefore, it is good to set your spot varnish digital file to any color for display purposes. This is to ensure that it stand out, is vivid and creates the intended impression.

    Never duplicate an already used spot color varnish.

    You are supposed to select a color that you have not used anywhere in you publication. Choose the saturation, contrast, hue hat you want to use to make sure your selected color just stands out clearly on the screen. Overprint the spot finish varnish color. Overprinting is very important in in creating spot colors. This is because you are printing on a different layer and therefore, to achieve the expected results you will need to ‘overprint fill’ so that the color beneath isn’t omitted but is printed first and the varnish will then be added afterwards. This will prevent the varnish from kicking out any elements or text underneath it.

    Put your spot varnish color in the layout

    If the software you are using supports layers, place your spot varnish color on a different layer that is separate from the other parts of the design. Make boxes, frames and any other page element you want to appear on the layout and fill them with the spot varnish color and place them on any part that you wish. However, if the specific elements already have color and you wish to apply varnish, create duplicate elements directly over the original elements to suppress them and then apply the spot varnish color on the duplicates.

    Configure your printer to spot varnish use

    Before you do your printing, ensure that your printer is set to use spot varnish option property before you send your file or publication for printing.


    When you are creating your spot color varnish, there are important tips you need to consider; never create a spot color like a process color for spot varnishing. For instance, in Adobe InDesign select spot to stand for color type because the default setting is for the process color. In QuarkXPress make sure that the process separation box isn’t checked. Another important point that you should remember is that, adding a varnish to your work can inflate the total cost of your job due to extra plate required to the process of printing. Eg a publication requiring 4 spot-color printing process will require five plate and one with 2 spot colors will require a 3rd.