modern print design

True blue: Shine 2019 is a case study in modern print design

It’s our sixth year working on the Shine School Media Awards project and every time we get involved, something fascinating comes out of it that none of us expected. The Awards programme recognises talented young people from around the UK who produce a school newspaper, magazine, podcast or website. Each summer, nominated students gather at Stationers’ Hall in the City of London for a day of workshops, talks from industry experts and of course an exciting and frequently moving awards ceremony. Our design job is to create an overall look for each year’s awards including a ‘step and repeat’ backdrop for photos or selfies, a day programme and a forty-plus-page book of the winning and highly-commended students and sponsors’ ads. Our goal each year is the same – to create a fantastic piece of modern print design.


Shine Scholar Feranmi Babajide holds our Winners Book – and stands in front of the ‘step and repeat’ backdrop we created as part of our project for the Shine School Media Awards 2019



Over the past six years designing the Winners Book, we’ve used speciality papers, spot UV varnishes, die-cutting, iridescent foil and embossing. That’s a lot of special finishes. However we’d never used spot Pantone colours… or considered a gatefold cover. Turns out we hit both of these this year.

A typical Heidelberg press can handle six colours at once. That’s the four primary colours used to make up a colour brochure and two extra. It seemed a shame not to fill that bandwidth, so we decided to use a distinctive cobalt blue combined with metallic silver as our theme. We also reimagined the Shine logo as a series of horizontal lines which repeat successively on the cover using a gloss and matt UV finish.

It’s easy to forget the difference a spot colour can make. The purity and sharpness of these tones are immediately evident through every page of the design. We even interchange full colour pages of silver, white and blue on the gatefold and elsewhere in the book to make even more use of them. In particular we’ve applied our colours to large, elegant typography throughout the book, which has really worked, feeling really crisp and current.

The end result is a brochure with unmistakable zing.

The gatefold cover of the Shine Winners Book 2019 – a great example of modern print design



That the Shine Winners Book is crammed full of detailed information is a given. However, creatively we want to lead our students by example. The presentation of our winners and runners up – not to mention essays by journalists and past winners – needs to be not merely top-notch but feel genuinely exciting on the page.

Using the special colours on spreads where we could – or the set of single pages focussing on individual awards and their sponsors in the most muscular way – our aim was to create a book with pace and life. Ultimately this piece of design is entirely self-initiated: we are the client. So it’s refreshing to create something that we feel represents the kind of work we do best. The end result is readable and fresh with plenty of space to let the content breathe.



The spec of the paper used in a brochure is inherent to the success of the design. We have been working with Denmaur Paper Media for six years on the Shine project and every year they bring us a fantastic new range of paper they want us to try out. This time around UPM’s Fine range was our chosen stock and they were keen we specify three different paper types. It’s an unusual request. However, we think it worked our really well. As we specified the paper, in fact we already knew we wanted to use a metallic special ink so liked the idea of a gloss stock on the gatefold cover to give maximum shimmer.

The second section of the book was UPM’s Fine Offset – an uncoated paper – and I have to say that I was amazed at the way that metallic ink sat on the page. Uncoated has a reputation for absorbing ink giving a flat, cool contemporary look, but there was still a great sparkle to our silver. Then the balance of the pages used UPM’s Finesse, a silk stock. We’ve used this fantastic paper before on the Shine project because the images of our students’ work sits so fantastically on it. The projects leap off the page throughout.

The entire project is then printed by PurePrint’s plant in Uckfield, East Sussex. Along with ourselves and Denmaur, PurePrint have also sponsored Shine for the past six years and we love working with them on this piece. They take every request we make in their stride – including this year’s gatefold and various varnishes on the front cover.

We’d like to express our gratitude to both Denmaur and PurePrint for their help with this project yet again.

Inside spreads of the Shine Winners Book 2019 – a great example of modern print design



Does your school produce a newspaper, magazine, podcast or website? Next year Shine celebrates its tenth year and the team are looking for entries from across the UK to make it the best yet.

Find out more about our work for the Shine School Media Awards

Visit the Shine School Media Awards website


modern print design

Covers of the Shine Winners Book 2019 – a great example of modern print design