edge painting

Hi Guys I’m about to edge paint business cards for the first time, I got the mechanics of it all sorted but just need to know the best ink for the job? I’ll be using an airbrush if that’s the correct way to do it?

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I’ll just step in right now and let you know that Briar Press is pretty quite in regard to sharing edge painting advice… for some reason.

But, I did some experimenting of my own awhile back - this thread may be useful: http://www.briarpress.org/31804

I’ve tried using normal rubber based letterpress ink in the airbrush and it worked ok, but you need to thin it down to the correct consistency. There are some helpful airbrush videos on YouTube that aren’t specific to edge painting, but are helpful to understand how the ink / paint should be thinned in order to work well out of the brush.

I think Acrylic is the proper ink to use through the airbrush though - it wasn’t intended to be used with letterpress ink. I just wanted to use the same ink I printed the cards with in order to make color matching simple.

There are various methods apart from the airbrush that can work as well. I’ve found out that the most important factor isn’t the painting method, but other factors like:

1. The cards need cut with with a very sharp knife.
2. Clamp pressure needs to be sufficient.
3. Most importantly, you need separate the cards while the ink or paint is still tacky. Not fully dry, but not wet either. If too dry, the edges will stick and tear. If too wet, ink will smear over the face of each card as you separate.

You can use a heat gun to speed up the process - but don’t over-dry!

I hope this helps.

This young lady has posted a few videos showing how she achieves wonderful results edge painting:


There is also a few detailed written posts here:


I’m not afraid to share how to do it, it’s not a huge secret to me haha! Acrylic paint works best. I just take my pantone guide to the Michaels Craft Store and pick out the closest match/matches from the craft paint aisle. I’ll mix to match if needed, but usually I can find what I want there. For metallics I use higher quality acrylics or actual airbrush paint. It dries super fast, but I never have issues separating after the fact. Thin with airbrush medium 1/1 ratio and add some drops of water or flow aid until it’s as thin as milk. Trying to thin actual letterpress ink might cause it to be so thin it won’t even be a good color match anymore. Not sure, I didn’t want to try and put that thick stuff in my airbrush.

PantheraPress - Thanks so much for all your work on sharing this! It’s amazing! You are certainly doing your part to “demystify” this technique.

You’ve inspired me to consider this as a service I offer. So, thank you!

I just want to say thank you to everyone who contributed to this post… this was such a great thread! :-)

Also, I was told by an old-timer that screen-printing inks work really well in this regard. I’ve never tried it. Does anyone have experience with these types of inks?

I did a bit of screen printing back in the day. I would think screen inks are too thick and platic-y. I haven’t used them for this, but due to the fact that they are often used on fabric, they have a lot of flex and sort of want to really stick together (and not crack which is great for shirts but not for pulling apart your stacks). Yes, they are usually nicely opaque, but I think if you were not super fast in pulling them apart the thick plastic film they would form would tear and ruin the edges. I think they would sort of fuse together. I really stand by the cheap acrylics or actual airbrush paints for my technique. Unless you already have them and want to try them, I wouldn’t mess with them or go through the effort of trying to buy them as they will cost much more per pound than regular acrylics. They may work great, but I wouldn’t know as $1 for a little tube of acrylic that comes in 3847x colors is hard to beat. One little dollar tube will cover a huge amount of cards.

I edge paint all the time. Its really easy there is no secret. Just cut your cards, clamp the stack tightly-use a piece of wood at the ends so the clamps don’t damage the paper, clean the stack with a tack cloth, airbrush with airbrush paint.-airbrush lightly several times so it doesn’t bleed.

I like to paint the edges before printing if possible. That way if you have a bleed it won’t cause a problem.

Hi I was looking for tips to bring edge painting in-house, and I came across this thread.
We used to send out our edge painting jobs out to someone and they would do what they called “split-sheeting”.
Essentially they inserted sheets of copy paper between the each card and afterwards cut the cards down to size. Resulting in sheets, the same size as the cards, between each card.
They told me that it would prevent the paint from bleeding through onto the cards.
Does anyone have info on how edge gilding is done, meaning edging with foil?
thanks in advance