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Reaching for the Next Level in Simulated Process

(March 2007) posted on Wed Mar 07, 2007

Explore how a change in mentality, practice, and process can ease the transition into simulated-process-color screen printing on garments.

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By Thomas Trimingham

A better approach is to carefully move through each area of the screen-printing process with a practice piece of artwork that will allow for a fair amount of time along the way for the learning curve. The downside to this is that practicing doesn't generate money. Nevertheless, I have found that practicing simulated-process printing is essential to developing consistency and catching problems before the scrapped shirts start piling up at the end of the dryer. The proper walk-through of simulated-process practice starts in the art department, then moves to the screen department, and finishes at the press.

The art department's role

Proper training in the art department will stave off most of the potential headaches with simulated process work. The artwork you print will only be as good as the set of separations used to create the screens, so the approach your artists take to produce designs needs to be systematic and controlled. Most of the problems tend to be out of the artist's hands when a customer provides the artwork, so it's best to make your first foray into simulated process printing with artwork that's been created to work well with this method.

A design I created for the wildlife market was constructed specifically for use in simulated-process printing (Figure 1). The simplest way to create artwork like this is to begin with a controlled palette of colors that you select as you illustrate. In this case, I used a palette of eight colors that I blended to produce the final artwork (Figure 2). Some artists hate to force the design process within a palette such as this, but it really pays off when it comes time to separate and print the artwork. An art department making the switch to simulated process for the first time should start by defining a palette of inks. These inks are then simulated in Photoshop as color palettes for the art department to use when designing garment graphics. These colors can be saved as swatches that every artist can refer to when creating new designs. In the beginning, your shop will have its hands full with art development and separation, so relying on swatches to help control color use will save your staff time and hassle.


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