I hope that this is the correct forum to be asking this question. I am trying to figure out what verbiage one would use to describe the packaging that Apple uses for many of its products. Specifically the sheen and texture. I have included an image for clarification of exactly which type of box surfacing I am talking about.

Type of Apple packaging I am referring to

I know that it of course would not be described simply as gloss, or matte, but instead would have a more complex description, and maybe even have a scientifically quantifiable measure of texture and gloss? And there any articles you know of on the subject that would help?

This is obviously not my field, so any help or pointers in how to phrase descriptions of texture would be appreciated!


I don't have a sample to hand, but from memory of the box I used to have:

  • The majority of the box is printed black

  • The whole printed area is 'matte laminated' (printers often say 'matte lam')

    i.e. a thin non-glossy, transparent plastic film is bonded on after printing and ink drying.

You ask about precise quantification of the effect, however printers I've used have only offered a choice of matte, gloss and silk/satin in between.

I guess there is a scientific method of measuring and quantifying glossiness/reflectivity, but have not come across it.

However, the quality of the effect does depend somewhat on the card stock used, the colour and amount of ink and drying time allowed.


  • If the product image on the upper surface appears glossy and slightly raised, it's probably 'spot UV gloss'

    i.e. a thin, shiny clear plastic film, which reacts to UV light, is placed on top and the areas outside the product image is masked off; UV light is used to bond the exposed area of film to the image area, the unexposed remainder is removed.

    This is sometimes referred to as 'spot UV varnishing' but wet varnish isn't actually used. You can add a UV finish over the whole piece, but for the shiny highlighted area on matt background, or vice versa, it'll be spot UV over lamination.

  • If the Apple logo is a solid metallic silver and slightly inset into the card, it's probably 'foil blocking/foil stamping'

    i.e. a very thin sheet of metal foil is placed on top and impressed into the card by a logo-shaped metal stamp, the foil outside the stamped area is removed. Metallic ink is a much less striking effect.

  • I'd say 'matte' as well. Though...I suppose one could call it a satin finish as well.
    – DA01
    May 23 '12 at 17:57
  • It's "matt" (and "colour") where I'm from. And you missed one ;-)
    – e100
    May 23 '12 at 18:16
  • Oh that queen and her English. ;)
    – DA01
    May 23 '12 at 18:30
  • Actually, I'll be popping over by aeroplane for a holiday in a fortnight's time. I must give you a ring.
    – e100
    May 23 '12 at 18:40

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