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Blog & Inspiration

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The difference between a kiss and a die. Process cutting, that is.

In Blog, Printing

the-difference-between-a-kiss-and-a-die The kiss-cut has the blade just touching (kissing) the surface of the adhesive paper while the die-cut(like a process in machining) cuts all the way through the surface of the material.

COMIC conferences where animators and illustrators come together is a great place to get ideas. For example in the last “FurryPinas 2019” where nearly a hundred animators presented their best works in many formats—drawings printed on special paper, framed hand drawn pieces, table cards and stickers.

Stickers are the most popular promotional tool that illustrators use to show off their special characters. Some use kiss cut stickers and others use die cuts to give uniqueness to their artworks.

What's the difference between a die cut sticker and a kiss cut sticker? They make look alike and even if they serve a similar promotional purpose there is a world of difference in application, process and cost between a die- and a kiss-cut sticker that is.

The die-cut sticker on one hand, is cut to the exact shape of the design. It uses a die (which is a metal cutting knife that is shaped exactly to the shape of the artwork) to make an more pronounced statement and a cleaner design. Die cut stickers are cut straight right into paper backing leaving the vinyl or paper top with the design. Most graphic artists consider the die cut sticker as cleaner and creates a great looking sticker even before it's applied.

the-difference-between-a-kiss-and-a-die2 Stickers by The kiss-cut and the die-cut.

A kiss-cut sticker on the other hand, typically has a square or rectangular backing. On top of this backing is the actual sticker design. It peels off from the rectangular backing but can also have special shapes, contoured to the shape of the design. Kiss cut stickers are only cut through the vinyl—using a similar metal die—but it does not go through the paper backing. The biggest advantage of this process is that peeling it off is easier.

Round shaped stickers are considered die-cut, while a round shape on a square sticker that peels off is a kiss cut sticker. When using the same artwork, both types of sticker can be cut into any shape and they both look exactly the same when applied to a surface. So, which should you choose?

Illustrator Diego Tribdino of the said that choosing a type of sticker to use depends entirely on budget and application.

“I discovered that for complicated designs with many edges die cutting is more difficult to apply—peeling off the non-adhesive back can be painstaking compared with kiss cuts,” Diego said.

He explained clearly that the kiss-cut has the blade just touching (kissing) the surface of the adhesive paper while the die-cut (like a process in machining) cuts all the way through the surface of the material.

There is also a price difference between die-cut and kiss-cut and it usually depends on the design or size. Because kiss cut materials can have a leave behind promotional value. The cost will differ by design, and die cut may cost more than kiss cut when the design becomes very complex. “In my experience, kiss cut stickers are ideal for intricate or delicate designs. The backing itself helps protect your sticker, because the delicate edges of our stickers are protected by the backing. This is great when it's being transported.

“Die cut stickers are hardcore,” says Tommy Maulit who is a Filipino graphic artist and specializes in printing designs for graffiti and tattoo artists who choose to sell their designs online. He also points out that die-cut stickers are seen to be more “environmentally-friendly” because there is less material wastage. Whatever you choose—die-cut or kiss-cut the choice ultimately depends on cost and objective.

“Last word, always spell with a “dash” die-cut or kiss-cut…because it is the right thing to do,” says Maulit.