I remember seeing high-fashion packaging with black-on-black printing; but, the difference was with only the finish. Normally, I see gold-on-black, or silver.

I want that same black "shiny effect" with a logo on a black background.

How was it done; and, how can I make one (mock-up) to show my client for approval?

I tried many ways but its not coming like it should be.


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5 Answers 5


The process is called spot UV varnishing. You need to ask your print company if they can do it. Not all print companies have the required equipment. Generally, those printers who specialise in high quality sheet fed lithography often have such capabilities.

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Basically the varnish is applied just like a regular ink, then the sheets are passed through a machine which exposes it to UV light to set the varnish.

As for mocking it up in Photoshop, there's a PS CS4 mockup template file you can download here. Here's something I made with it. You can examine all the layer effects added in the PSD.

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In the PSD the effect is created by applying various layer styles to two instances of a smart object which have been skewed. The top smart object layer (set to normal blend mode) has an inner shadow applied, with pin light set as the blend mode. This layer is responsible for the slight highlight line around the edges of the artwork. The bottom smart object is clipped to a texture layer which seems to be creating most of the reflective effect, which looks like this:

Texture layer

And the effects applied to that clipped smart object are drop shadow (multiply mode), inner shadow (overlay mode), color overlay (overlay mode) set to grey, gradient overlay (soft light mode) set with a gradient of white to black. And this smart object also has it's layer blending mode set to overlay. The final bottom layer is the background layer filled with grey. In my example, I also added some darker areas to the background using the paint brush set to black, with the flow reduced.

  • Could you add an outline of the technique used in the .psd? That way, your answer is still useful in case the link rots. Thanks!
    – Vincent
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 23:26
  • @Vincent Sure, I have added an outline of the technique.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 7:35

I have nothing to add about the UV-printing technology But here's something about the mock-up.

Have your logo as black on transparent and put it as a separate layer onto a layer that has some believable version of the matte surface in non-uniform light. A photo of the real thing would be excellent. I had a darkened photo of grey painted door. A gradient can be used, too. Avoid full black and white, the brightness range should be max. 20% to 80%

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Copy the logo to the layer mask of the matte surface. Copy it at first to the clipboard. After inserting the mask hold the Alt-key and click the mask icon to get the mask onscreen. The you can paste the black logo.

The logo layer is useful later as 50% grey. With the levels or curves tool adjust the black to 50% grey. Hide the 50% grey logo.

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The glossy layer must be inserted below. Again a gradient can be used. It must be black to white and it preferably should be more complex than a single slope. Maybe better result can be achieved from a random photo that has more light at the same areas than the fake matte surface, An example:

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After desaturating, blurring, inserting the contrast (=curves) and blurring again to remove the banding:

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The glossy layer is inserted:

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The edges of the logo easily vanish, if you change the shading to less agressive. It is prevented by giving to the 50% grey logo the blending mode = hard light and adding the edge boosting effect Layer > Layer Style > Bevel&Emboss. Note: The light comes upwards and the boosted edge is thin. Adjust the opacity of the edge boost layer smaller to keep the effect subtle.

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The brightness of the gloss must be easily adjustable. Insert an adjustment layer for it. Here the midtones are lifted a little:

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The gradients generally can be too clean to be believable. Its possible to add a little grain. Add a 50% grey layer with some grainy or other texture. Set the blending mode = hard light. The effect depth can be adjusted by the opacity.

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Save the work, duplicate all layers, merge the duplicates, make a couple of copies, too. Now it's time to fit the result into something. You must add a background image and adjust the result to fit into it. You can

  • distort the perspective
  • add some thickness (=paint vertical edges)
  • adjust the gloss light curves
  • colorize with Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation > Colorize
  • adjust the general light

You cannot do all this to the final form without the background image. The following is thus only a test example.

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ADDENDUM: This job is impossible in low resolution. Have at least 2000 x 3000.


Spot gloss is a feature of printing. Different ink or a coating is applied to only certain areas, in your case the text. This cannot be perfectly represented in a proof. Make your text a different, truer black, add some highlights if you want. Show your client this picture, explain the process and show them your black on black proof.


The effect is accomplished by printing with a clear gloss varnish (as if it were an ink) on a matte surface. The glossy varnish finish against the matte background produces a low contrast printing effect for high fashion packaging. Note that there is also a matte varnish. Not all varnish is gloss.

You can try using different "blacks" with PhotoShop to simulate the effect with your artwork. Some laser printers can get a heavy toner layer with "rich black" that is distinguishable against the very dark grey "4C" black or "100% K" black.

One reason that the effect draws attention is that it IS hard for reproducing using normal materials.

This great effect can be combined with other post-press effects.

You can Emboss your logo in addition to the varnish. This gives a three dimensional effect.
You can both Emboss and Deboss your design. This raises (emboss) parts of your design above page level and lowers (deboss) parts below the page.


You can use "Registration Color" (C-100 M-100 Y-100 K-100) to show UV in you design/mockup, if you are using CMYK model.

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