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Whether for custom art book printing or marketing materials, varnish can make your product appearance more appeal. BookPrintingChina provides various varnish options to make your printed product not only durable and make color “pop”, but also stand out from the market.

You may be confused: What’s varnish? Benefits of applying varnish on your printed product? What types of varnish we provide? What products are suit for varnish and difference between lamination? Following we provide a complete guide to help you learn more about varnish.



What is Varnish in Printing


Varnishing is a liquid finish applied by a printing press to seal and protect the ink on the printed surface. Varnishing is available in gloss varnishmatte varnish and spot varnish and usually matches the coating of the underlying paper. It provides a glossy or matte finish and adding an extra layer of protection against scuffs, scratches, and wear and tear.

Varnish not only enhances the aesthetics of printed materials but also helps to preserve the vibrancy of colors and the crispness of images over time. It acts as a barrier, shielding the printed surface from potential damage caused by moisture, UV rays, and other environmental factors.

Whether you’re looking to add a touch of elegance to high-end publications or ensure the durability of packaging materials, varnish is an essential tool in the printing industry. Its versatility allows for a wide range of applications, catering to various design preferences and functional requirements.


Types of Varnishing


BookPrintingChina offers a variety of varnishing options to meet diverse aesthetic and practical needs. Here are some of the most common types of varnish used in printing:


Gloss varnish

Gloss varnish, also known as glossy varnish, is a popular choice for adding a high-shine finish to printed materials. It creates a mirror-like surface that enhances the vibrancy of colors and the depth of images, making them appear more vibrant and eye-catching.

The glossy varnish finishing can improve the surface gloss of the printed product, which making the book brighter and richer. Gloss varnish is often used for business cards, packages, and high-end marketing materials where a luxurious and polished look is desired.


Matt varnish

Contrary to glossy varnish, the matte varnish finishing reduces the gloss on the surface of the printed product. Which can avoid irritation in human eyes because of its excessive gloss. When using matte varnishing on the paper surface, colors and images will look a little softer, but there will be no glare making text easier to read.

Matt varnish is commonly used for art prints, photography books, and publications where a more subdued and sophisticated aesthetic is desired.


Spot varnish

Spot varnish is a technique where varnish is selectively applied to specific areas of a printed piece. It creates a striking contrast between glossy and matte surfaces. This technique is often used to highlight specific elements, such as logos, images, or text, adding depth and visual interest to the design.

Spot varnish is a popular choice for business cards, packaging, coffee table books, and marketing materials where selective emphasis is desired.


Aqueous varnish

Aqueous varnish, or water-based varnish, is an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional oil-based varnishes. It is water-soluble and dries quickly, making it a suitable choice for high-volume printing operations.

Aqueous varnish can provide both glossy and matte finishes, offering versatility while reducing the environmental impact of printing processes.


Flood varnish

Flood varnish, as the name suggests, is a technique where varnish is applied to the entire surface of a printed piece, creating a uniform finish. This method is often used for packaging materials, such as boxes, labels, and product inserts, where a consistent and protective coating is desired. Flood varnish can be applied in either gloss or matte finishes, depending on the desired aesthetic.


Pros of varnish


Varnishing offers many benefits in the printing industry. Here are some of the key advantages of using varnish:

Enhanced visual appeal: Varnish adds depth, vibrancy, and dimension to printed materials. It elevates their visual appeal and making them more attractive to the viewer.

Protection against wear and tear: The protective layer provided by varnish helps to shield printed surfaces from scratches, scuffs, and other forms of damage, ensuring the longevity and durability of the printed product.

Resistance to moisture and UV rays: Varnish acts as a barrier against moisture and UV rays, preventing fading, discoloration, and other forms of degradation over time.

Versatility: With various types of varnish available, such as gloss, matte, spot, and aqueous. BookPrintingChina can cater to a wide range of design preferences and functional requirements.

Enhanced tactile experience: Certain types of varnish, like gloss or spot varnish, can create a tactile experience. It adds texture and depth to printed materials, making them more engaging and memorable.

Improved print quality: Varnish can help to enhance the overall print quality by providing a smooth and consistent surface, minimizing the appearance of imperfections or irregularities.


How do We Apply Varnish to Printed Product


Applying varnish to printed products is a precise and controlled process that requires careful consideration and attention to detail. Here are the general steps involved in varnishing printed materials:

Surface preparation: Before applying varnish, the printed surface must be clean and free from any contaminants or debris. This ensures proper adhesion and a smooth, consistent finish.

Varnish selection: Choose the appropriate type of varnish based on the desired finish (gloss, matte, or spot), the substrate material, and the intended use of the printed product.

Coating: Varnish can be applied using coating machine. Specialized coating machines are designed specifically for applying varnish to printed materials, offering precise control over the application process.

Drying and curing: After the varnish has been applied, the printed materials must be allowed to dry and cure properly. The drying time and curing process may vary depending on the type of varnish used and the environmental conditions.

Quality control: Once the varnish has fully cured, the printed materials should undergo quality control checks. To make sure proper coverage, consistency, and adherence to the desired specifications.

BookPrintingChina with the expertise of trained professionals and specialized equipment to achieve optimal results. Proper handling, storage, and application techniques are crucial to ensure the desired outcome and longevity of the printed products.


Common Uses of Varnish


Due to its ability to enhance the visual appeal and durability of printed materials. Varnish finds widespread applications across various industries and sectors. Here are some common uses of varnish in printing:


Package box

Packaging boxes, whether for consumer products, luxury items, or industrial goods, often benefit from the application of varnish. Varnish not only adds a glossy or matte finish, making the packaging more visually appealing, but it also provides protection against scuffs, scratches, and moisture, ensuring the longevity and integrity of the packaging design.


Business cards

Business cards are a crucial marketing tool, and varnish can elevate their appearance and durability. A spot varnish or gloss varnish can make logos, text, or specific design elements pop. It creates a memorable and professional impression.

Additionally, varnish protects business cards from wear and tear, ensuring they maintain their crisp and polished look even after frequent handling.


Art prints, coffee table book, photography

In the world of art, photography, coffee table book and high-end publications. Varnish plays a vital role in preserving and enhancing the visual impact of printed works.

Matte varnish is often used for art prints, providing a subtle and elegant finish that complements the artwork without overpowering it. But gloss varnish, can add depth and vibrancy to photography, making the images and text appear more vivid and captivating.

spot glossy varnish

Beyond these common applications, varnish is also widely used in various other sectors, including:

  • Marketing materials (brochures, catalogs, flyers)
  • Labels and product inserts
  • Greeting cards and invitations
  • Posters and signage


Varnish is an indispensable tool in the printing industry, catering to a diverse range of applications and industries. The versatility of varnish and its ability to enhance both aesthetics and durability.


Varnish vs Lamination


Varnish and lamination are both techniques used to protect and enhance printed materials. While they differ in their application methods, properties, and overall effects. Here’s a comparison between varnish and lamination:



Varnish is a liquid coating that is applied directly to the printed surface, creating a transparent protective layer.

It can provide either a glossy, matte finish, spot varnish and flood varnish, depending on the type of personal choice.

Varnish is typically applied using specialized equipment, such as coating machines.

Varnish is often used on the book interior, while lamination is often used on the book cover.

It dries and cures to form a durable, flexible, and scratch-resistant surface.

It offers limited protection against moisture and humidity compared to lamination.




Lamination involves applying a thin, clear plastic film over the printed surface.

The laminate can be either glossy, matte or soft touch, depending on the desired finish.

Lamination is a separate process that typically follows printing and is often done using specialized laminating machines.

The laminate provides a rigid and highly durable protective layer.

Lamination offers superior protection against moisture, humidity, and physical damage compared to varnish.

While both techniques offer protection and enhancement for printed materials. The choice between varnish and lamination depends on factors such as the desired finish, durability requirements.

Varnish is often preferred for its versatility in finish options, and applications where moderate protection is required. Lamination, on the other hand, is favored for its superior durability, moisture resistance, and applications that demand enhanced protection and longevity.

glossy/matte lamination


Varnish File Set Up Guide


Proper file setup is crucial when working with varnish in the printing process. BookPrintingChina provides a general guide to help you prepare your files for varnishing:

Create separate varnish layers or channels: Most design software allows you to create separate layers or channels for varnish. This separation ensures that the varnish areas are isolated and can be easily identified during the pre-press and printing stages.

Use spot colors or specific color values: Assign a specific spot color or color value to represent the varnish areas in your file. This color will serve as a visual guide and will be converted to the appropriate varnish during the printing process.

Define varnish areas precisely: Clearly define the areas where you want the varnish to be applied. This can be done by creating vector shapes, masking specific elements, or using selection tools in your design software.

Specify varnish type: Indicate the type of varnish you want to use, such as gloss, matte, or spot varnish. This information should be communicated to your printer to ensure the correct varnish is applied.

Check for overlaps and conflicts: Carefully review your file to ensure there are no overlaps or conflicts between the varnish areas and other elements, such as text or images. Overlaps can cause unwanted effects or printing issues.

Provide clear instructions: Include detailed instructions or notes in your file. Specifying the varnish areas, types, and any special requirements or considerations. Clear communication with your printer is essential for achieving the desired results.

Use appropriate file formats: Save your file in a format that supports spot colors or channels, such as PDF, EPS, or AI. These formats ensure that the varnish information is preserved and can be accurately interpreted by the pre-press and printing systems.

Preflight and soft-proof: Before sending your file to the printer, perform a thorough preflight check to identify and resolve any potential issues. Besides, soft-proofing your file can help you visualize the varnish areas and ensure they are positioned correctly.

We trust following these guidelines and working closely with us, you can ensure that your varnish application is accurately represented in your files, leading to a successful and visually appealing printed product.


If you’re looking to elevate the visual appeal and durability of your printed materials, consider incorporating varnish into your next project.

At BookPrintingChina, we offer a wide range of varnishing options, including gloss, matte, and spot varnish. Our team of experts can guide you through the process, ensuring that your printed pieces not only look stunning but also withstand the test of time. Visit our website or contact us today to learn more about our varnishing services and how we can bring your vision to life.

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