When someone mentions special effects, what comes to mind? "The Matrix"? "Jurassic Park"? "Avatar"? Although special effects have long been squarely in the wheelhouse of film, most people overlook the amazing special effects that can be created on paper. "The Standard #5," the fifth volume of a unique educational series produced every year by premium paper provider Sappi, shows designers how the creative use of special effects can make a printed piece dimensional, tactile, intriguing, and even interactive.
Created by acclaimed graphic designer Kit Hinrichs, principal of Studio Hinrichs, and copywriter Delphine Hirasuna, the book reveals stunning techniques that may look like magic, but are, in reality, fairly easy for designers to create and produce on a conventional press. "The Standard #5" showcases numerous techniques and effects, including foil stamping, embossing/debossing, engraving/thermography, varnish/aqueous/UV coatings, strike-through, laser die cutting, lenticular printing, flocking, and a wide array of specialty inks and spot colors. These special effects and finishing techniques combine to make this one of the most unique, educational, and inspiring editions in Sappi's series.
When Sappi issued "The Standard #5," Adobe's marketing and design teams were so intrigued and inspired that they decided to use some of the techniques from the book to produce a limited-edition poster to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Adobe® Illustrator®. Eddie Yuen, design manager for Adobe Studio, and Andre Seibel, art director for Adobe, were eager to bring the iconic Venus, used for years on Illustrator splash screens and packaging, back to life and create something entirely different and beautiful for the anniversary celebration.
“Adobe wanted something special — not only great design, but also something that would play with the tactile aspects possible with printing,” says Seibel. “‘The Standard #5’ totally excited us.”
For the project, Yuen and Seibel used many different textures and overlays — all with intersecting, unique, and random shapes, lines, and colors. "Everything has a warm quality to it," says Yuen. "To further enhance the layered, textured feel of the poster we used three different varnishes: the soft-touch coating, gloss varnish, and sandpaper UV coating."
The Adobe designers were loose in their application of the spot varnishes, not covering the exact shapes, but taking a more random approach. This way, when people look at the poster they can see how a specific texture or image looks with different varnishes overlaid on top. The result is tactile, warm, and atmospheric.
The poster for the Illustrator 25th anniversary is, as they say, a keeper. Only about 3,000 of them were printed, making the poster a desirable collectible. "Similar to 'The Standard #5,' the poster is a piece you want to feel, touch, and even smell," Seibel says. "In a world where the swipe of a finger brings up something new on your screen and so many things feel temporary and flat, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to create something akin to an enduring work of art."