Screen Printing Basics

Everything you need to know about the process.

So you say you wanna print some t-shirts? We created this page to help accquiant you with the very basics of the screen printing process so you can decide what you want to do. We are always happy to explain this to you if you get confused, but have a look below for an overview of the very basics of how transforming an image from a drawing or digital image into a final printed product.

Tonal Prints

Most designs employ solid tone, bold shapes and lines. This will produce the clearest, cleanest, most striking printed image.

Computers display tone through transparency, but in printing this is not possible. In order to create the different tones (or shades) of a design we use a half tone (think Pop Art or newspaper printing), where the illusion of tone is created by a pattern of dots of varying sizes.

Some aspects work best with a solid tone (such as type and heavy outlines) and vice versa. It is sometimes necessary to employ both processes simultaneously to achieve certain requests.

Full Color Photo Prints

Half tone dots are also used to create the illusion of seamlessly blended shades/tones of color on light colored shirts. In order to achieve a photo realistic reproduction we use what is known asFour Color Process. This uses the 4 standard print colors of CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) to create the illusion of all the colors in the rainbow.

When printing color photographic images on dark colored shirts, we use a process that utilizes half tone dot patterns of up to 8 select colors to acheive the same end result.

Solid Color Prints

Most designs employ solid tone, bold shapes and lines. This will produce the clearest, cleanest, most striking printed image.

Computers display tone through transparency, but in printing this is not possible. In order to create the different tones (or shades) of a design we use a half tone (think Pop Art or newspaper printing), where the illusion of tone is created by a pattern of dots of varying sizes.

Hand Drawn Designs

If you have a hand created piece of artwork we will be happy to scan it for you. Solid tone line drawings are best created using black ink on white paper with no tonal variations. Tonal greys in a pencil drawing can be acheived through the use of halftone. High resolution scans of colored pencils, original paintings, and other such media can be used to create high quality screen printed reproductions.

Line Quality & Line Size

Ink spreads, lines fill in! Consider the final size that your design will be printing and build it accordingly. We always try our best to retain the highest amount of detail from you artwork, but some details simply become to small to print. Very small areas can be tough, although we do have a few magic tricks to go above and beyond the basics.