What is dimensional graphics?

2015-05-19 15.23.27For many of us, when we think of print, we think of flat press sheets, or maybe something that’s folded.  But what do we think of when we mention dimensional graphics?

Dimensional (sometimes called structural) graphics is creating a three-dimensional piece out of the flat press sheet. Dimensional, however, should not be thought of as exclusively packaging, which I covered in an earlier post. Dimensional is anything that uses folds, scores, die cutting, or even embossing and foiling, to create a piece that is 3-D, and therefore, engages the target audience.


Dimensional graphics can be easily defined as anything that has a three-dimensional aspect to it. I’ve seen plenty of literature holders, presentation folders with capacity for booklets or sheets, various types of product holders and displays, boxes for bottles of various spirit brands, and clever pop-ups which were sent flat, but when opened, literally popped open because of a rubber-band included in the construction. Essentially, anything that uses die-cutting and scoring as a means of taking a flat press sheet and making it three-dimensional. The thing about dimensional graphics is that they carry your client’s brand message to the target audience, and because of the unique nature of the piece (or pieces), it can capture the attention of that audience, and hold it. Perhaps those pieces end up on the recipient’s desk, like a trophy. Or you may have one person showing it off to another, and that other person is a key decision-maker.


2015-05-19 11.41.43As I had written in my earlier post, you need to have some key equipment and personnel in place to effectively create dimensional pieces. First, if you cannot afford the equipment, establish a good relationship with a finishing vendor, who can conceptualize and manufacture the piece for you. Next, if you do have the capital, invest in a CAD cutter, which will allow you to create the dummies (also called white samples) to show to clients during the creative stage. Make sure you have Adobe Illustrator set up, and you’re working with the CAD software. The next step would be to have in-house die-cutting, so you can control the entire process from creative to finish. But most important is to have an individual in place who understands paper and its characteristics (such as grain, memory, thickness), and has both the creative side to visualize how the piece will come out, as well as the engineering capability to actually create the final piece.


This really is a simple question to answer. Will it cost more to produce a structural piece? Of course it will. There’s more design and creative time involved, as well as additional manufacturing processes and materials, such as a die. But for the client, to have something that stands out, that presents their brand in a way that it is constantly visible, and, therefore, forefront in the mind of the target audience – that alone is the return on their investment. And something that is unique and never been seen before, further entrenches the brand upon the target audience’s mind.

Dimensional graphics is a fantastic and rarely used means of creating a value-added service that can differentiate one printer from another. Investing in the means to give this advantage to your clients creates a payoff for not only you, but for your clients as well.

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About John Prothero

John Prothero is a print professional with over 30 years experience in the print industry. Starting out as a driver delivering jobs, he worked in bindery, proofing, plating, traditional prepress (camera and stripping), scheduling, job planning, job management, account management and digital job production. His skills also run in the area of blog authorship, social media management, and lead generation and qualification of prospective clients. John is also a contributor to Rhode Island Creative Magazine, a digital publication that highlights the creative spirit of the state of Rhode Island. You can read their online issues at www.ricreativemag.com
This entry was posted in Dimensional graphics, Paper, Print, Print Marketing, Structural graphics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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