the printing process

On this page you’ll find some definitions of screenprinting, a video, a step by step guide, and some examples of screenprints.

It’s quite difficult to explain screenprinting in words, but basically it’s a method of producing multiple images using the equivalent of stencils. Here’s what some other websites say:

  • ‘A variety of stencil printing, using a screen made from fabric (silk or synthetic) stretched tightly over a frame’ (the Tate).
  • ‘Screen printing is a printing technique whereby a mesh is used to transfer ink onto a substrate, except in areas made impermeable to the ink by a blocking stencil’ (Wikipedia)
  • ‘Screenprinting is a stencil printmaking process in which ink is pushed through a fine screen onto a surface beneath’ (Revolver Warhol gallery)

and if that doesn’t make much sense here’s a helpful youtube video from the Print Club (the one where I did a short course in 2015), and also below a step by step guide!

 

Here’s my step-by-step guide!
1. Choose a photo to work with. Here’s a photo of a Tyrell racing car I took at the Goodwood Festival of Speed some years back…

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2. To screenprint this image I’ve used Photoshop to reduce the number of colours – here 4 seems to work best – white, blue, grey and black (and I’ve also cropped out some of the background detail)

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3. I can then (again on Photoshop) create ‘stencils’ for each colour (I don’t need to worry about white – that’ll just be the paper with no ink). It’s important to make the area to be printed as black as possible! For this print I decided to first print the grey and black areas together grey and then overprint black, and then do blue separately. It’s easy to overprint lighter with darker colours (e.g. black on grey) but overprinting colours will often dilute and/or change the printed colour.

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4. These images are then sent to my local friendly printer (Parchment) who copy them onto transparencies/acetates.

5. Each image, in turn, will now need to be transferred to a screen. The clean screen needs to be coated with light-sensitive emulsion, and then dried.

 

6. The image in transferred by placing the acetate under the screen and subjecting to to UV light (in this impressive machine!).

7. The UV light will fix the emulsion where the light shines through, whist the rest of the image can be washed off.

8. and the screen is then dried again.

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9. While the screen is drying sort out colours and cut paper!

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10. Attach the screen to a board and tape around the image to stop ink coming through where it is not required.

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11. Pour ink at one end of the screen, place paper underneath and pull the ink across the screen so that the ink comes though the ‘open’ sections’

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12. and put the prints in the rack to dry.

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13. Wash the ink off the screen, apply seri-strip to remove the light sensitive emulsion, and pressure wash to clean the screen, and dry again.

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Repeat points 5-13 for each colour!

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Here are some examples of the effects that can be achieved with screenprinting: