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An Underbase with a Punch

(September 2006) posted on Mon Sep 18, 2006

Explore how creative uses of underbases can produce some knockout designs.

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By Thomas Trimingham

Customers and retail buyers are always on the lookout for that something extra in a printed garment that will set it apart from the average shirt. Creative use of an underbase print is a great way to make your garment graphics stand out from the competition without a lot of extra work on your part. The underbase print typically serves to block the garment color from affecting the ink colors that will be printed on top of it, but experimenting with the underbase can uncover additional uses. The goal with this process is to keep the underbase a simple embellishment that creates added value to a screen print without destroying the integrity of the original artwork.

This month, I'll discuss an underbase modification that gives an extra boost to the art that is printed on top of it. In particular, I'll talk about using an expanding underbase. You'll be able to use the same artwork you might print in a conventional garment job, but, after curing, the modified underbase will expand upward in certain areas of the print to create an exciting, dimensional look.

Finding the right artwork

The first step in creating any special-effects print is designing or picking your art around the specific qualities that a particular special effect has. It's essential to consider the effect's limitations and advantages before you select the art; otherwise, you may have to completely redo the artwork to ensure that it'll work properly and not look cheaply executed.

For instance, I received a boxing logo (Figure 1) that needed design adjustments to give it a higher perceived value. This artwork fit the mold for a design that would work with both an expanding and a distressed underbase. The artwork's large, distinct areas of specific geometric shapes made it ideal for these processes.

If I had picked a design that was created with a lot of smaller pieces, or was less bold with its graphics, the special effects wouldn't be as clear to the viewer. From a profit standpoint, it's a good idea for a special effect to justify itself with added value through a visible increase in interest. Artwork should complement and highlight the special effect.

The expanding underbase


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