Shine on

Glossy print work is a prerequisite for brands that want to illustrate the quality of their products in all their glorious detail, says Trish Lorenz

Fortnum Mason brochure

But you don’t need to use a special print process like Staccato to get high gloss results. Clive Christian is a British company specialising in bespoke kitchens and furniture. Its annual brochure is built around photography and Clive Christian design director David Dunkley says the company has always chosen a ‘very high gloss varnish’ to deliver the high resolution finish that the photography demands.

‘High gloss varnish gives a massive depth to the images, it feels like you almost fall into the page,’ explains Dunkley. ‘That effect is further enhanced with the design – we’ve chosen to bleed off the edge and use a landscape format. It all combines to give a cinematic appearance to the furniture.’

Using such a high gloss finish presented some issues, in particular the problem of cracking on the spine of the page. To overcome this, Somerset printer Butler and Tanner left a tiny margin of the page unvarnished.

Dunkley concedes it’s not a low-cost option. ‘It’s a very expensive process. We looked at gloss paper to see if we could bring the cost down with that, but realised we couldn’t get the resolution we were after. The photography lost its depth,’ he says.

Butler and Tanner account manager Toby Culff says there is still a solid demand for this process. Yacht companies such as Princess and Sunseeker and car manufacturers in particular look for spot gloss varnish to ‘add punch, life and vibrancy to their images’, he says.

The company generally uses a five unit press to achieve high gloss solutions, using four for the CMYK process and applying a spot gloss tonal varnish for the fifth.

It’s not just photos that benefit from high gloss print. Sharp text detail on fonts as small as 8 point is also possible. ‘White-out type is a big winner,’ says Hewitt. ‘It’s much sharper, with better edge definition. Tints on type are more vivid too, almost like a spot colour.’

The process isn’t limited by choice of stock. ‘Some of the toothy stock gets better hold out, so you can get even better results on uncoated stock,’ Hewitt maintains.

Fortnum & Mason, Jaguar, Clive Christian – they’re not exactly cutting edge brands. But look at the work and, after years of matt, low resolution print techniques, the glossy quality of the photography and the clarity of the image makes for an appealing change.

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