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Separating for a Fine-Art Look

(October 2013) posted on Wed Nov 06, 2013

Use index separations to make shirts ready for the runway.

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By Thomas Trimingham

One great way to elevate the level of detail and quality that a screen printer can handle is to look at reproducing fine-art designs onto garments. The challenge to re-creating fine artwork tends to relate to the fact that styles and media have to be simulated through some form of halftone to be printed onto the garment. An additional challenge to fine-art reproduction is that it may cost more time in hours and effort than most of the profitable work that comes in the door. Having a standard setup that can qualify the order up front can prevent headaches in production.

How to qualify art
Qualifying the artwork for screen printing is the process of estimating the time and effort it will require to reproduce the design, balanced against the amount of garments that the client will need. Assuming that the volume of garments justifies the effort, then working with the artwork to recreate it in the quickest, and most accurate way is essential.

A quick review of the artwork should reveal the best prospect for separation and reproduction, depending upon the way the artwork was created and the different prepress and printing methods that your company is comfortable using. If your production department has worked with index separations and stochastic dots before, then these commonly the best, unless the artwork has an excessive number of blended colors. Designs that are created using chalk, charcoal, graphite (pencil), and pastel all seem to work very well with the small square dots of index separations because the grain in the image echoes the dot pattern.

The other advantage to using index on hand-drawn artwork is that a traditional halftone separation will punch holes into the lines and tones in the image to establish the pattern, which can sometimes make the image appear dull or too light on the garment. A separation that uses an index pattern is created using a dot frequency that will maintain the edge quality more effectively on details and small lines.


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