Spot UV on black matte (black on black?)

I’m using VistaPrint’s embossed gloss option for a client’s business card. I know VistaPrint is not ideal but this client’s budget is very low as they are a start up.

The front of the card will be rich black (60/40/40/100) on matte stock with just the logo in the center. The logo will be in embossed gloss.

Here is my question

  1. Should I just have the logo in embossed gloss over the matte stock without any color differentiation (basically black on black with the logo showing through the gloss)?

  2. Or …should I use a dark rich grey for the logo (background still rich black) and then have the embossed gloss applied over it?

In theory, I think the rich dark grey underneath the rich black background feels classy. It is a tech repair shop and the overall card is very minimalistic. But I don’t know if it will translate well on paper. I’m also not 100% confident VistaPrint will line up the gloss perfectly over the ink.

Any thoughts here? Maybe it won’t even make much of a difference?

Like you, I’d be concerned about VistaPrint registering the printing, embossing, and gloss areas perfectly. Even if the final piece is fraction of a millimeter off, it’ll be noticeable.

If it were me, I’d be more inclined to print the gloss UV over matte black stock (no CMYK or Pantone) with no embossing and no lighter gray type beneath it.

The gloss will make the black beneath the letters appear even darker (especially when viewed at certain angles), so it seems to make little sense to lighten the type beneath it. I’d also be a bit skeptical of VistaPrint embossing stock covered with a rich black ink ink — I’d be worried about cracking along the edges of the letters letting the white paper show through.

VistaPrint might have developed techniques to deal with this, but they’re an online gang printer not known for high-quality work, so I’d be skeptical about the outcome. Your client might have a small budget, but I’m not sure I’d trust VistaPrint with something subtle and classy that’s meant to look like high-end printing. I’d head to a local printer for that or do something simpler if I was restricted to VistaPrint.

There are some online printers that specialize in high-end business cards at very reasonable prices. I wish I could remember the name of the company that I used a few years ago for some cards, but the results were spectacular. You might want to do a few Google searches.

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For my own business card, the back is a solid, four-color-tint of a dark gray (if that makes sense, it’s all one color). Then I have a gloss varnish with my logo reversed out of the gloss varnish. It turned out really well. I did not have to make the area occupied by my logo a lighter tint – just the contrast of the spot gloss varnish was plenty. To be honest, I can not remember who printed them (it was an online place), and I can’t remember what the printer called their coating (if it was actually a gloss varnish, some trade name they came up with, some other coating). Personally, a spot gloss or combination of spot gloss and spot dull or a strike thru technique is pretty sharp looking.


You’re right - I’m going to scratch the grey underneath and just have the gloss. Better safe than sorry.

I agree - but with VistaPrint my options are minimal. There is no matte black stock and the embossing comes with the gloss for whatever reason. So instead and amongst other reasons, I suggested to my client that we should print the back on white and only the front stay black. I like this look, anyway and the text will be cleaner and easier to read. And yes, cracking is a concern. But I will say that the full color cards I would get for my last full-time job in marketing came out pretty great through VistaPrint. The only issue is, of course, consistency in color.

I was thinking this too… I guess I should just remove the color for the logo.

Honestly, I’m still looking for a local printer that I trust and that can produce good quality work with affordable pricing. Twice now, I chose a local printer over a gang printer, and the quality was beyond disappointing and looked even cheaper than using VistaPrint. While local printers may accommodate and communicate more effectively, I’ve found the stock and other materials to not be as up to par as what other online companies are offering. I’ve also had two local printers provide me with a finished product that smeared and cracked at the edges. So, I’ve lost a little bit of trust in some of these guys. :frowning:

I might continue to go this route. Are you thinking of Moo? I think another good one is Rock Design. All of these places are out of his budget at the moment, but I am going to suggest them as he continues to grow. My current budget was $80 for 1000 cards. I gave him a few options that I felt would work and were within his budget; he ultimately went with UV gloss option.

I like the idea of the logo reversed out of the gloss varnish!

I dug through my drawer full of samples and remembered it was, but that was ten years ago. I don’t know if it’s the same company with the same quality as ten years ago. The company seems to have cut down its card options and expanded into other printing areas. Moo looks pretty good, though.

These kinds of low budgets mystify me. He’s anticipating giving out upwards of 1,000 of them and, I assume, wanting to make a good impression. Yet, he can’t afford a few extra dollars to ensure that happens, For what it’s worth, I run into that kind of thing all the time, but it still baffles me.

Anyway, good luck with it. Whatever you choose, would you mind reporting back here on what company you chose and how the cards turned out? Business card printing has turned into a specialty thing, and it’s hard to know which company to use without experience actually using them.

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Yah - I think he just doesn’t know how expensive these things can get. Perhaps, I should have given him budget options to choose from instead of asking for his budget. We are actually going over budget anyway with these cards but they’re still hundreds of dollars cheaper that the competitors.

He is a friend and just started this business. But he seems to understand and appreciate the importance of branding and marketing. I am sure he will up his budget as he continues to grow.

And yes! I will update how the final cards came out. :slight_smile:

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I understand why you’re using VistaPrint but a word of caution - their regular business card stock is flimsy - more like thick paper. See if there’s an option for thicker stock. 350gsm is standard.

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Yah…it’s not ideal. I did choose the premium option which I think is 16pt / 350gsm. I would prefer thicker and will suggest that in the future through a new supplier, but the UV option only had “standard” and “premium” stock.

Upon googling, I found out VistaPrint’s standard was the equivalent to 14pt while their premium was equivalent to 16pt. It’s a shame they don’t offer the premium plus for the UV option - I have some of the premium plus cards through VistaPrint and they are actually a nice card thickness.

Hey all,

So just an update on how these cards came out through VistaPrint…

Conclusion: DO NOT use their new embossed gloss option. It’s not actually UV gloss and was a hot mess. We had to get a full refund. Customer service was also a nightmare.

I attached a photo for reference.

For VistaPrint, I would just sticking to their basic features if necessary. If my client wants to up the quality of the cards down the line, I will suggest using a local printer or a more expensive quality vendor online.

Even using the best printers or engravers, I’d steer clear of embossing anything with small type — paper just isn’t that malleable. A good printer would have steered you away from it, but at VistaPrint (as with most online gang printers), everything’s just dumped into the hopper, and whatever goes in comes out the other end.

Was it really even embossed (which requires the making of a die)? Or did they just call it that and use some sort of raised thermographic printing process?

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Yeah that’s thermography.

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No. I don’t think so. It seems like they just globbed some mod podge or something on the top and labeled it “embossed” because it was raised. I didn’t see the card in person as this photo came from my client. Luckily, he’s a friend so he wasn’t even going to tell me. I told him there was no way I was letting him pay for that error.

I fought with customer service to speak with a technician before placing the order but she placated me that the card would come out exactly as the digital proof.

For vista prints basic card options like their thicker matte cards, I would use their service again for someone on a budget and not ready to upgrade their brand. But I now know what type of quality you’re getting stepping out of that safe zone so I’ll steer clear in the future. Their velvet soft touch cards have excellent reviews so we switched to that. I’ll update the results.

They really should have some kind of note about minimum type size / area size for best reproduction with something like this, but of course their specs don’t mention anything of the sort.

I’ve ordered cards of my own design once, long ago, from a different company similar to vistaprint that claimed to specialize in the uv gloss spot printing, and they definitely did reject artwork that would not have produced well, even though they didn’t have anything in their specs about it either (that I recall)

They do note that this isn’t actually embossing though and is indeed UV gloss.
Per their FAQ for this product:
Is spot UV the same thing as embossed gloss?

Yes, the type of printing we use is also known as spot UV. This process actually has a lot of names, so you might see this type of product listed elsewhere as spot UV business cards, 3D business cards, spot gloss business cards or raised print business cards.

That said, it’s really thick application of UV gloss. Much thicker than anything I’ve ever seen that wasn’t thermographic.


There are UV ink big board printers out there now that do dimensional ink. I’ve seen them used for woodgraining mostly, you can’t get much more than 1/16" thick. Some are using them for ADA Braille applications but not all of the machines meet the minimum specs for that either - just some smaller, desk-sized units that may well have been used for these cards. Something similar to this:

And by the looks of that card, something wasn’t set right in the curing. You can get 6pt type on a machine like that.


VistaPrint does actually suggest not exceeding a certain font size on their platform. But this was an outlined logo and I have no idea what the font size would have equated to to be honest. In the rerun, I enlarged the logo to be on the safe side. We’re just going to print it instead this round.

You know…to be honest, I didn’t care if the gloss was “embossed”. If I had the option to choose, I would have elected to not have any extra embossing aside from the UV gloss naturally being raised. VistaPrint only offers one option for the UV gloss (if it is really UV gloss) and that’s to also have it embossed.

This is the look I was really going for (though I knew in my head the quality probably wouldn’t be up to par via VistaPrint).


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