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What Is Holographic Foil?

By Cindy Quarters
Updated May 16, 2024
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A hologram is an image that is photographed and printed in such a way that it appears to be three-dimensional, even though it is displayed on a flat, two-dimensional surface. In some cases holograms can be projected in such a way as to appear fully three dimensional, but a more common use of the technology is to print holographic images on special papers, cards and other surface. One such surface is holographic foil.

As holographic technology has become more common and less expensive, holographic foil has become more readily available and more affordable than it was when it was first introduced. It is frequently used as a type of decorative wrapping paper for gifts, and to add color and depth to books, greeting cards, and other paper products. Manufacturers use holographic foil to add shine and sparkle to increase the attractiveness of their products.

Despite its name, holographic foil is actually thin plastic sheeting that includes holographic images printed on it with a laser. A single image is captured from many angles, and all angles are then printed onto the foil. The result is a picture that looks three-dimensional even though it is flat.

Holographic foil usually contains a repeating series of a single, simple image or group of images. In some cases, especially with less expensive foils, the image is indistinct and may appear as a general pattern rather than than a specific object. Simple stars, balls or other brightly colored objects may be featured. Complex patterns are not typically used.

The background is typically a shiny, metallic color. Silver is the the most common color used, though others are used less frequently as well. Holographic images tend to pop out more when viewed in front of bright, shiny colors, so the use of these helps manufacturers to add interest to the foils without adding to the cost. The bright background also adds a festive flair, a plus since the foil is often used for festive occasions.

In addition to shiny backgrounds, holographic foil is also available with the holographic images printed on a completely clear background. This provides a means of adding holograms to other items, such as children’s books and cards. The holographic image can be laid over a flat image, which gives an interesting and unusual appearance to an object that is normally two-dimensional. Additional applications for holographic foil may be packaging, announcements and brochures.

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