An Extreme Touch with Digital Embellishments

By Lindsey Munson, writer, PostPress

Print Panther Direct, Oakville, Ontario, Canada, a standout in specialty print and technology advancements, has taken print to new heights with the creation of the Extreme Digital Guide III. Its theme, “Print so real you can feel it,” makes perfect sense.

The Extreme Digital Guide III has been an evolving creative project. It’s not the first of its kind for Print Panther Direct, but genuinely unique through a myriad of substrates. As an industry veteran with a global perspective, this guide carries the weight of Print Panther Direct’s most attractive pieces pulled from previous guides, ranging from invitations to labels.

Through this guide, users can see and feel the extreme beauty of each visual, focusing on single images rather than practical pieces. It carries an artisan quality of innovation and versatility that is achieved through the digital print and embellishment process.

Designing and planning

From the graphics and special design considerations to paper and specific cover material, the Extreme Digital Guide III became an enticing reality.

Presentation of the outer box and lid were a standout in an aluminum form that then was printed and etched. The belly band was 130 lb. Cougar paper delicately printed, laminated, embellished and scored for its elegant appearance. First impressions are everything so creating a stunning, sleek and modern outer box was a high priority.

Opening the guide, the inner images were constructed on 130 lb. Cougar as well and then duplexed with the visual arts spanning both sides for an endless textured impression.

Print Panther Direct has built its business on a “presentation is everything” mentality. Co-Owner and President Christine Yardley wanted this piece to be a keeper; sustainable and thought-provoking in a more avant-garde way with an end goal of luxury packaging. Print Panther Direct currently is in production with a mini box with the plan of keeping true to the guide’s original concept while introducing a paper-over-board version.


The Extreme Digital Guide III was printed on a Konica Minolta AccurioJet KM-1e UV LED inkjet press, which can handle texturized, unusual substrates beautifully. The AccurioPress also was used throughout the print process.

The inclusion of metallics and fluorescents from the Xerox Iridesse production press demonstrated how combining digital effects can produce myriad specialty effects.

The foil and varnish effects were created on the MGI JETvarnish 3DS and iFOILs. The varnish reflects light and enhances the sharpness and saturation of the images. It gives the primary area of print an incredible look. The impact of the Extreme Digital Guide III’s foil and varnish leaves those who see it with a lasting impression.

Yardley said in a recent podcast, “We did our research, and liked that the MGI is more user friendly with one varnish, with the ability to use different foils, not just MGI foil, which is great for flexibility – especially lately when consumables are in such demand.” Print Panther Direct was the first MGI install in Canada, as well as the first to have an AccurioWide 160.

The final piece was constructed by placing all the duplexed images in the aluminum box with a translucent cover sheet. The theme, “Print so real you can feel it” was carried through from the box lid. The box lid was screen printed and etched. The belly band was the finishing touch and the holographic foil worked against the aluminum.

Embellishments and challenges

The Extreme Digital Guide III’s images were chosen to showcase the incredible color quality of the AccurioJet KM-1e UV LED inkjet press and the Accurio press. Combining textured stock, metallics, fluorescents and multiple foils and varnish gave each image a unique look.

The specialty effects and embellishments of this guide included gloss foils, holographic foil, spot varnish, metallic inks and fluorescent inks.

When users open the aluminum box, they’re greeted with a number of striking imageboards, and one in particular that stands out for its bold and eye-catching colors is the elephant imageboard. It’s worth talking about not just for its beauty, but for Print Panther Direct’s various approaches carried out to deliver the perfect visual effects across the board. Yardley had a vision and a desire to work with fluorescent ink, multiple foils and varnish for this particular image. The initial print was a matte lamination, but the result of the lamination muted the metallic ink. The science behind printing runs deep and, to get the elephant ‘just right,’ adjustments needed to be made. The result was to first use the fluorescent ink, then the lamination finishing, with the metallics, foil and varnish creating a stunning print that was fitting for the Extreme Digital Guide III. The pink is subtle, but that’s the beauty of a fluorescent – it adds liveliness. It does not have to overtake a printed piece, as illustrated with the elephant imageboard.

With every project, there are successful moments and there are challenges, but Print Panther Direct’s passion for print and a keen eye for the big picture has helped the company navigate the ever-changing world of print. The biggest challenge faced during the design and production of the guide was deciding which images to choose to best showcase embellishment and what outer packaging could be used that would be different, sustainable and useful.

Best of Show

Print Panther Direct entered the Extreme Digital Guide III into FSEA’s 29th Annual Gold Leaf Awards, winning “Best of Show” for Best Use of Digital Embellishments.

“I hope and think everyone will love it as much as we do,” Yardley stated. “So far that has been the case. I love the ‘Print so real you can feel it’ theme. I think that sums up precisely what we try and achieve with every job.”