How I Apply Foil to Digital Designs
Here's a rundown of everything I do to add foil to my prints! Fair warning before we begin, this process is not as easy as it may look. There is a lot that can go wrong and the results are not perfect every time. You can also have drastically different results by changing any step of the process or any materials. If you are planning on making foil designs using this method, I advise you to do your own research apart from this tutorial, and be prepared to experiment with what materials and methods work best for you! If you are having quality issues with your foil prints, check out my blog post titled "Issues When Foiling and How to Combat Them".
- Amazon Basics Laminator
- Recollections heavyweight card stock
- Heidi Swapp Minc Foil
- Lexmark mn 317 Monochrome laser printer
All the materials I use are linked in my Amazon wishlist: https://www.amazon.com/shop/cooper_calligraphy
The first step is to create a digitalized design. I draw my designs using the Procreate app and apple pencil on my 2017 iPad Pro. However, any digital design will work as long as it is entirely black ink. The foil will not stick to any grays or colors. If you prefer to draw with pen and paper, you can digitalize your design yourself on photoshop, illustrator etc. You can also try the adobe capture app, which automatically creates a digital, vector image of a hand drawn design. Keep in mind the resolution of the design you are making. Since you will be printing it, a high resolution design will give the most crisp results.
The next step is to print your design. The printer you use is incredibly important for this process to work. It must be a laser printer that uses laser toner - not inkjet. I use the Lexmark ms 317. If you are considering buying a printer for foiling, I would highly recommend this one. Here's a few things to keep in mind when looking for an acceptable printer: it needs to use laser toner and needs to be able to print with thick paper. My printer has a manual paper feeder that allows for printing on up to 300 gsm paper. Thicker paper is important for the foil to adhere property and look professional. This is definitely the largest barrier to entry when starting foiling, however fear not! You can also get prints made at a print shop (just make sure to bring your own card stock and specify that you need monochrome laser toner). Alternatively, you can ask around at your local library or university to see if they have public printers. My first year of foiling and selling on Etsy, I exclusively used a public printer at my local library that had all the features I mentioned above. You don't need to apply the foil immediately after printing, so it's totally fine to wait until you get home to foil your prints!
Next up: foiling! As mentioned above, I use Heidi Swapp minc foil. It's my preferred brand, however Deco Foil is a slightly cheaper option that gives relatively the same results, they just offer less color options and most their foil comes in smaller sheets. Both of these brands are easiest to buy on Amazon, you can also get select Heidi Swapp foils from Jo Anne's Fabrics and Walmart. My laminator of choice is the Amazon basics laminator. I have had the best results with this one, and it's one of the most inexpensive options so I would definitely recommend it. I've tried cheaper laminators, and they tend to crease the foil almost every time. Another option is the Heidi Swapp minc machine. This is significantly more expensive. However, since this machine is designed specifically for the purpose of foiling, it has its advantages. It's better for extremely detailed designs, it also comes with a protective sleeve so your foil will never crease. If you are considering foiling extensively, I would recommend this option. However, if you are just trying this out for fun, the Amazon laminator works just fine!
Turn on your laminator and wait for it to heat up. I use the 5mm setting on my Amazon laminator, but I encourage you to try both settings to see which you prefer. Apply the foil colored side up, resting the dull side against the paper. Smooth out the foil as much as possible before putting it through. I also like to blow on the paper first before adding foil, as any dust particles, crumbs, etc that are on the paper will block the foil from sticking in those areas. Try to use a straight edge of the foil on the side going into the laminator first. Also, try to line up that side as close to the edge of the printed portion as possible. This way, the foil melts almost immediately to the toner and is less likely to crease or get stuck in the laminator.
Once your print has gone through the laminator it's time to peel! There's really no special trick to doing this, and you can peel immediately after it comes through. Just peel off and voila!
I hope you found this post helpful, and you are ready to start making your own foil prints! If you have any additional questions, check out my blog post titled "Frequently Asked Questions"!
Thanks for reading,