Screen Printing

Screen printing is used in various mediums within the graphics world. It is the most desired option for designs that require a high level of vibrancy. Ink in screen printing is applied thicker than digital printing, which results in brighter colours.

When we got told that we were going to take part in a workshop for screen printing, I was really looking forward to getting started. Its something that I enjoy doing perviously, though it has been a good few years since I have done any.  Im also a  big fan of Andy Warhols work, who was one of the first commercial artists to use screen printing as a medium.

Screen printing is all about the preparation. This is key as I found out during our workshop. However once everything is in place many prints can be made – hence why it is used so much in the commercial art industry to create mass produced graphics such as posters or display stands.

Screen printing basis process is in which ink is applied directly to the surface to be printed (substrate). The image to be printed is photographically transferred to a very fine fabric (the screen) such that the non-printing areas are blocked off and the fabric serves as a stencil. The ink is then wiped across the screen to pass through the unblocked areas and reach the substrate. For each colour to be printed a separate screen or stencil is prepared and the process is repeated.

In our workshop we started off with making a stencil to go behind our photographic print, my design was of apples grouped together. which I had already prepared using photoshop Creating an Image for Screen Print. As this was the bottom layer I want to have one red apple in amongst the green apples. As you can see in the top right photo below I made a stencil with the one red apple and hearts dotted around the rest of the stencil.

Once I had printed about six backgrounds onto white card, it was time to prepare the screen for the next layer. Taking my digital copy of the apples, I traced over the parts that I didn’t want to be blocked off on the screen using indian ink painted onto tracking paper.

 

After drying the ink, I was ready to transfer the image onto the silk screen. By coating the screen in a Photo emulsion, this thick liquid substance reacts to uv light. Essentially, photo emulsion becomes “tougher” when exposed to light, making it more difficult to remove from surfaces. That’s perfect for creating a stencil: we’ll “toughen” up parts of the stencil that we want to keep solid, and then wash away the rest. As you can see below the image of my apples was placed into the uv machine and left to react for 3 and a half minutes. Then after washing off the rest of the emulsion with the jet wash I was left with the hardened stencil ready for printing.

 

Here is a photo of one of my final images. Not quite how I envisioned it when I began. However it was a great reintroduction to screen printing. I have a greater understanding of the process and why planning before hand is key.

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From learning the process. I decided to make some christmas cards. Below is the stencil used for the for the photo emulsion. Then the final printed images with another cut stencil that was used for the red.

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