Applied during the printing process, the different varieties of varnish are usually colourless, but can be tinted to achieve a desired effect.

Varnish can be applied in spots or as an all-over coat to highlight a specific area of a printed product. The effects that can be achieved are endless when using different combinations of ink, paper and varnish.
Another important aspect, besides design effects of varnish is the protection it provides.

A coating of varnish over a printed material protects it from the wear and tear that is part of everyday handling, allowing the product to remain intact for a longer period.

Types of varnish available;

  • Standard Varnish – Standard varnish is applied to provide minimal protection for the graphics on a label
  • Spot Varnish – Like any other ink, varnish does not need to be applied to the entire label area, areas can be left varnish-free to allow the end-user to print on the label
  • UV Varnish – the most durable of the varnishes, UV Varnish, may be tailored to be chemical or alcohol resistant, providing extra protection
  • Moisture Barrier Varnish – Used for most wine labels, this Barrier Varnish protects label graphics, withstands scuffing, and provides an excellent barrier against moisture.
  • Imprintable Varnish – An imprintable overprint varnish allows the end-user to print on the label, Imprintable Varnish is excellent for clients who need to add barcodes, best before dates, serialization, or stock/product numbers to the label
  • Gloss Varnish creates a smooth surface over the label filling in any irregularities that may be on the surface
  • The effect created is almost 3-D, by applying gloss varnish to a subject and dull or satin varnish to the background. The subject will appear to have movement jumping off the label, in addition to applying varnish as a solid coat, it can also be printed as a halftone (series of dots) in order to provide subtle effects and to provide printed objects with an increased dimensional appearance
  • Matt Varnish – Matt varnish fills in irregularities to form a smooth surface, but it diffuses light that reflects back to the eyes, which creates a dull appearance. The effects that can be achieved  are endless when using different combinations of varnish, paper, and ink
  • Satin Varnish – An all-over coat of satin varnish will protect the printed surface without drawing attention to the fact that varnish was used for protection purposes

Important tips when using Varnish Effects – The use of varnishes on print applications should be planned early in the design process.