Add metallic foiling to your prints

Let your print job shine with Mixam's metallic foils. Perfect for book covers, wedding books and art books.


How does foil work?

Foils resemble the look and feel of precious metals such as gold, silver and copper (although other colors are available). They react and reflect light like the metals themselves - giving prints a dazzling finish.


To add foil to your design, you must create a single colored area on your digital files to show where you'd like it to appear. This area will help our printers to apply the foil accurately, and when outputting your file, this will create a fifth plate (CMYK for your artwork and your spot color for the foil).


In the production process, we will etch your design on a metal plate which is then heated. Next, we'll place your foil between the plate and the surface of your pre-printed page or colored paper. The foil will bond with the heat, attaching it to the page, creating a metallic effect with 100% opacity.

Booklet with a foil cover

Submitting your artwork

You must upload your file as a single PDF document with an extra spot colour layer to the Artwork Dashboard via your Mixam account.



How to set up your artwork

We'll show you how to create single color files and spot color layers using Adobe’s Creative Cloud apps. You can apply the techniques to other similar apps, but be aware the functions might have different names.

Hard case book with foil on the cover
Hardcover book with foil on the cover

Create a single layer in InDesign

To create a single color plate using InDesign once your artwork is complete, follow these steps:


  • Step 1: Add a new layer via the Layers palette and label it Foil. (If the rest of your design is on one layer, rename it Artwork).


  • Step 2: Without removing items from your main artwork, you can now add the items you wish to print in foil onto this layer. You'll need to duplicate each item and move them to the new layer.
Using 'Step and Repeat' in Adobe InDesign
  • TIP: The most accurate way to duplicate them is using Step and Repeat in the Edit menu. Step and Repeat creates a duplicate version of an item in a chosen location. If you set the Offset values as 0, it will replicate your item in the same position. Or you can copy each item and use Paste in Place to create a copy. This step will paste the copied item into its original position. You can find the Copy and Paste options in the Edit menu, but remember to use Copy, not Cut, to preserve your original artwork.


  • Step 3: Next, you need to move your item onto the foil layer. Select the item in the main window and open the Layers palette. Here you will see a small colored square to the right of the layer you have selected. Click on this square and drag it onto your foil layer. You will notice that the color of the frame edge around your artwork will change to match your foil layer. It is now part of this layer, and you can see it by expanding it using the triangle to the left of the name in the Layers palette.


  • Step 4: Once you have finalized the elements in your foil layer, you should convert any text to Outline. Complete this step by selecting the text and selecting Type > Create Outlines. This will turn your text into a vector shape, meaning you won't need to embed your fonts into a PDF later. Please note this process creates a new outline version and the original live text, which you should delete to avoid confusion.


  • Step 5: You need to convert the colors of any elements in your foil layer to a single color. We recommend process black, but you can use any single plate color. If you are using a spot color, use a contrasting color like bright pink or green to ensure the layer stands out.


  • Step 6: Finally, to export your single color layer separate from your 4-color artwork, hide the Artwork layer by clicking on the eye icon next to the corresponding layer in the Layers palette. Now export your single color files as a PDF and give your files an identifiable name, like (FILENAME)_FOIL. To export the 4-color artwork, hide the Foil layer and reveal the Artwork layer. You can then export it as a separate file with a name like (FILENAME)_ARTWORK.


  • When you export your file as a PDF, a fifth color plate will appear in the final file. The fifth color will be visible in the InDesign file but not the final printed product.

Create a single color layer in Illustrator

Making a single color plate in Illustrator is like InDesign, but Illustrator has its own names for particular functions.


  • Step 1: Begin by creating a new layer called Foil (and also label your other layers at this point). To duplicate the objects you wish to print in foil, you can either use Copy > Paste in Place via the Edit menu or go to Object > Transform > Transform Each, which is Illustrator’s equivalent of Step and Repeat. When the Transform Each window is open, set the Move values to 0 and the Scale to 100%, then select Copy to duplicate your element.


  • Step 2: You can now move your items to the foil layer in the same way you would in InDesign. You can convert text to outlines via Type > Create Outlines, and unlike InDesign, this does not leave a live text version. Change the color element to a single color (again, we recommend process black) or a bright spot color. You can then output your artwork.
Creating a foil layer in Illustrator
Creating a foil layer in Illustrator








Create a single color layer in Photoshop

It is possible to add foil using Photoshop, but it's not the best way. Photoshop is a raster or pixel-based app, whereas Illustrator and InDesign are vector-based, using lines and paths to create shapes and text. Using vectors gives your artwork a crisper edge and a more accurate finish. If you wish to add foil using Photoshop, here's what you need to do:


  • Step 1: Start by creating either a new layer called Foil or a new group of layers.


  • Step 2: If you'd like to have an editable version of your text to hand, duplicate your text layer first. Then convert any text to a vector by right-clicking on the text layer in your Layers palette and selecting Convert To Shape when creating your foil layer or group. This step lets you turn all your text into a path.


  • Step 3: If you've built your artwork using vector shapes, duplicate the layer or group they're part of and move them into the Foil layer group. If you want to foil a specific part of an image or photo, create a selection using the path or lasso tools, and then fill it with your chosen color on the Foil layer.


  • Step 4: Once you have created your foil layer or group of layers, export or save your documents as a Photoshop PDF. This means you'll have one file that contains the artwork and one that contains the single colour area for foiling. Label them accordingly so we can identify them from each other.
Using 'Convert To Shape' in Adobe Photoshop
  • TIP: When creating this layer or group, make sure that the edges of your selections are solid and not feathered, as you cannot replicate this once you've finished your design.