What Are 3D Embossing Folders? (And How to Use Them!)

Last Updated: April 3, 2022

Do you love the look of 3D embossing folders but don't know how to use them in card making or scrapbooking? Are you wondering how embossing folders work? Embossing folders are handy tools that add dimension and interest to any paper crafting project. If you want to learn more about Altenew 3D embossing folders, get a few creative card making ideas, and gain some tips on how to make the most of your 3D embossing folders, keep on reading!

Holiday card with black background gold-embossed with layered snowflakes

Layered Snowflakes 3D Embossing Folder

What Are 3D Embossing Folders?

An embossing folder is a translucent white plastic folder with designs or patterns embedded in it. It has a raised side (also called the “positive side”) and a recessed side (also called the “negative side”). This white plastic folder is usually embedded with various designs, patterns, shapes, etc. There are two types of embossing folders: 2D (standard) and 3D.

While it isn’t exactly a new tool for paper crafters, 2D and 3D embossing folders have gained popularity. The best thing about this tool is that it comes in different sizes, making it perfect for many paper crafting projects. 

Here are the standard embossing folder sizes:

  • 4” x 6”
  • 5.5” x 4.5”
  • 5” x 7”
  • 6” x 6”

Memory keeping pages with floral embossed design

3D Embossed Memory-Keeping Journal Page

What is the difference between 2D and 3D embossing folders?

The most significant difference between a 2D embossing folder and a 3D embossing folder is the level of depth it adds to a surface. While both are handy in creating instant dimensions on any paper crafting project, 2D embossing folders usually only have one level or layer of depth and dimension. On the other hand, 3D embossing folders are designed to have different levels of depth, added undulations, and layers, resulting in realistic designs that pop off the page.  

This doesn’t mean 2D ones aren’t ideal for your handmade creations. This type of embossing folder will still add some pizzazz to your project and is great for quick and instant backgrounds. You can easily layer other elements on the embossed image for added texture and interest. While sizes vary (depending on the manufacturer), most 2D embossing folders are 1/16” thick. 

If you need something that packs more punch, 3D embossing folders are your go-to! Not only will these add instantly stunning and realistic backgrounds to your paper crafting projects, but you can also explore various card making techniques and use different mediums with these. There are various sizes in the market but these are usually ⅛” thick.

Debossed hello word on a white and gray cardstock

Greeting card with debossed "hello" word

Unique 3D Embossing Folder Designs for Your Crafting Kit

Altenew 3D embossing folders are 6” x 6” in size, making them perfect for landscape and portrait designs! Unlike the standard ones, these have both raised and flat areas and in-betweens. The added undulations and layers will create a beautiful 3D look on any cardstock, making the image pop.

We have also released a few 3.5” x 8.5” 3D embossing folders to keep up with the slimline card craze in the crafting world. You can use these specially designed embossing folders for instant added dimension and texture on your slimline cards.

3D embossed vase designs on a white background

Add 3D embossing on die-cuts

From our trademark elegant florals and stunning foliage to one-of-a-kind geometric and fancy patterns - there’s definitely something for everyone. Here are some of our highly-recommended embossing folder designs that you won’t see anywhere else.

Hello card with tree bark embossed design

Hello card with tree bark embossed design

  1. Tree Bark 3D Embossing Folder - This embossing folder features a lovely design print that resembles ancient tree bark. The design encapsulates tranquility and the beauty of nature. You may color the raised elements for a unique effect or leave them plain as a subtle background.

Holiday card with ornaments and 3D embossed poinsettias

Holiday card with 3D embossed leaves

2. Perfect Poinsettias 3D Embossing Folder - Featuring a background of gorgeous poinsettia flowers, this one is just perfect for the holiday season. Instead of achieving merely two levels of embossed texture, this folder will produce three-dimensional shaped designs to enhance your creations.

Unique 3D embossing folder design on a handmade card

 Greeting card with 3D embossed stone designs

3. Organic Stones 3D Embossing Folder - Create the look of scattered stones on a walkway or garden using this unique embossing folder. The rounded stones will provide the perfect textured background for your handmade cards and scrapbook layouts!

Thank you card with 3D embossed tie dye pattern

Tie-dye embossed handmade card

4. Tie-Dye 3D Embossing Folder - Do you love the beauty of tie-dye? This embossing folder has designs raised in a variety of four levels to signify different tie-dye colors. It is inspired by tie-dye patterns with layers of color in which the color is replaced by dimension. An embossed look will represent the colors that will make your crafting projects stand out.

Motivational card with embossed background and die-cut sentiments

3D embossed background on a motivational card

5. Linked Ovals 3D Embossing Folder - This one features a repeated pattern of linked ovals. The design would make a great background for any project but is interesting enough to stand independently. Add a sentiment, and you'll be good to go!

Creative 3D embossing folder on a handmade card

Handmade greeting card with multi-dimensional diamonds 

6. Connected 3D Embossing Folder - This geometric embossing folder will elevate your handmade projects to a different level. The multidimensional diamond shapes create a modern and exciting background that you can pair with any product from your crafty stash.

3D embossed checkered diamond background

Checkered Diamonds 3D Embossing Folder

7. Checkered Diamonds 3D Embossing Folder - Create a beautiful geometric pattern background that will work for all different types of projects or occasions. This folder’s design gives a checkered look with diamonds that are designed so that they appear to be studded.

Slimline card made with Altenew 3D embossing folder

Slimline birthday card with 3D embossed pinecones

8. Classic Pinecones 3D Embossing Folder - This beautiful 3D embossing folder features pine branches with scattered pinecones. It has been designed to work perfectly on slimline cards, but it can be used on different-sized projects. Ink with your favorite colors or emboss your favorite cardstock for realistic texture.

Handmade card with white embossed background and daisy die-cuts

Daisy Bed 3D Embossing Folder

9. Daisy Bed 3D Embossing Folder - This embossing folder features a bed of daisies to help you create a lovely floral background on your handmade cards, scrapbook layouts, and journal pages.

Slimline card with personalized die-cut name and linen background

Personalized handmade card with 3D embossed background

10. Organic Linen 3D Embossing Folder - Add a touch of natural elegance to your next paper crafting project with this unique embossing folder. It has been designed to mimic the look of woven linen. This texture will make the perfect backdrop behind your favorite stamped elements, dies, and embellishments. We can't wait to see what you create!

Thank you card with embossed scalloped design

Colorful handmade card with 3D scalloped frame embossing folder

11. Scalloped Frame 3D Embossing Folder - This stunning 3D embossing folder will allow you to feature an image or sentiment on all of your paper crafting projects. It includes a large circular area in the center surrounded by layers of scallops. We can't wait to see how you use it in your craft room!

12. Window Slats 3D Embossing Folder - This versatile 3D embossing folder will create textured slats across your cardstock, mimicking the look of horizontal blinds. Pair this design with your other favorite paper crafting products, and you'll be sure to create a unique and wonderful project!

Ready to get creative with your Altenew 3D embossing folders? We’ve prepared 10 Creative Ways to Use Your Embossing Folders right here!

TIP! Want to emboss with your dies? Use an embossing mat! With this essential embossing tool, your die-cutting machine would leave a raised impression on your cardstock instead of cutting through it.

Unique 3D embossing folders from Altenew

Creative and Unique 3D Embossing Folders

How Do I Use 3D Embossing Folders?

If you’ve ever wondered how to use 3D embossing folders, don’t worry - you’re not alone. Most people who are unfamiliar with this tool might find it a bit intimidating, especially upon seeing the result it creates. Here are three easy steps on how to use 3D embossing folders.

  1. Place a cardstock (or your chosen paper) between the embossing folder.
  2. Follow your die-cutting machine’s user manual. For some machines, it’s as simple as cutting plate A + embossing folder + shim + cutting plate B. 
  3. Run it through the machine. 


IMPORTANT! There are a variety of die-cutting machines out there, and each machine will provide different instructions on how to use 3D embossing folders, so make sure to check the user’s manual. Not all die-cutting machines can be used to emboss, though. Make sure you check your machine’s manual to see if it is compatible with your embossing folders.

How Do Embossing Folders Work?

The raised side (embossing side) and recessed side (debossing side) of an embossing folder play a huge role in how it works. The two sides perfectly fit when pressed together. Placing a paper or cardstock between the two folders and running it through an embossing/die-cutting machine forces it into the raised side and creates the embossed impression. The raised area in the cardstock is created when the pressure from both folders squeezes the paper’s fibers. 

If you want to learn more about the history and manufacturing of embossing folders and how to use 3D embossing folders, check out this quick guide.

Blue card with 3D rose embossed background and a sweet sentiment

3D embossed roses on a blue cardstock

If you're looking for a way to add some extra dimension to your projects, you should try using 3D embossing folders! These folders can create beautiful textures and patterns on your handmade cards, scrapbook pages, art journals, and other DIY crafts quickly and easily. Plus, it’s not messy and doesn’t require too much effort or too many supplies. All you’ll need are a piece of cardstock, your die-cutting machine, and your favorite Altenew 3D embossing folder

Drop by our All About Crafting page for more paper crafting ideas, tips, hacks, and inspiration! 


  • Altenew

    Thank you for sharing your love for embossing folders! Hope this post inspired you to whip up quick and beautiful cards using your fave folders. Don’t forget to tag us when you post your projects on social media. :)

  • Diane Oliver

    I LOVE this technique embossing on dark card stock and highlighting with white or opulent inks. Beautiful!

  • Ronda

    There are so many techniques with embossing folders. I just love the dimension of 3D embossing folders!

  • Peace B

    My favorite Altenew embossing folder is the one with 9 tiles. Absolutely fabulous!

  • Lou Swit

    The cards are lovely. Especially love the blue rose card

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