Q: A client just asked me to consider a “die cut” on the piece we are designing for his company. I nodded knowingly but I really don’t know what a die cut is. Sounds scary. Is it hard?

A: No need to be frightened. Only Bruce Willis thinks there is A Good Day to Die Hard. And fortunately, death by a thousand cuts has been out of fashion since Imperial China outlawed this form of torture in 1905.An example of a die cut

A die cut is a shaped edge, corner or cut-out on a printed piece, such as an invitation, brochure or folder. It can add a lot of visual interest. And it is not hard for the designer, because the printer does the cutting as part of the finishing process.

Die cuts add to the cost of the printing, but the cost can be well worth it. We recently designed an invitation with a curved die cut highlighting an image of a basketball. Innovative Print & Media Group is putting on a “Hooptacular” event to entertain clients while educating them about the array of imprinted promotional items the company offers. Our client felt the die cut went a long way in generating excitement about the event, and we agree.

Try one of the following, and you’ll stay a cut above the competition!   

We received this beautiful folder from Chicago's Field Museum.  It has a die cut opening flap, as well as a die cut pocket.

We received this beautiful folder from Chicago’s Field Museum. It has a die cut opening flap, as well as a die cut pocket.

Windows cut into the front of the folder, letting you see inside.
Special corners, including rounded corners or custom specialty corners.
Die cut openings that are different than the traditional straight edge.
Die cut pockets to give whatever is inside the folder pockets more visual interest.

  • DO think outside the rectangle when brainstorming ways to use die cuts. Consider what it physically feels like to open the folder and look inside.
  • DON’T get too cheeky or cut for the sake of cutting. Die cuts should have a visual purpose as part of a cohesive design concept.
  • DO consider your company image. A playful die cut doesn’t play well with a brand that is straightforward and sophisticated.

Do you know the origin of the term “die cutting”?
Die cutting gets its name from the use of mechanical cutting tools known as dies. Die cutting started as a process for cutting leather for the shoe industry in the mid-19th century, but it now is used to make elaborate cuts in paper, rubber, cloth, foil, fiberboard, sheet metal and other thin materials.

Need help designing your marketing materials? Call Kim Landry at 484-829-0021 or email [email protected].

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