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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

The big question about whether it is a good idea to use a stochastic dot in your printing production can be answered by looking at the process of printing the dots first, and then deciding if this is the method that is correct for your shop. The best way to review this process is to run an index-dot test of different dot resolutions and then look at them through a loupe to see whether they are high-quality dots on your preferred screen meshes that you use in detailed printing (Figure 1).

You’ll want to have at least three to four threads per dot to support a good stencil; otherwise, the edges of the dots will degrade, become rounded, or you will lose the dot altogether. If you are comfortable using index dots, this can still be a useful step to see whether you can hold finer dots that you have previously assumed—and to see how they sit on your screen stencil. A 200-dpi dot size is a good, high-detail dot to attempt to hold, though you will likely need at least a 230- to 355-thread/in. mesh to maintain the threads/in. ratio.

Index-process separating
The next step is reviewing the artwork and looking at a fast set of separations to reproduce the design as quickly as possible. Example: A supplied graphic that has some hand-drawn elements incorporated and some border and custom type pieces was presented for reproduction (Figure 2). This design was to retain some of the original rough quality and still look decent on the shirt. Due to the way the artwork was done, it was a good candidate for index separations, so it was prepped for the separations, broken up into the different colors in the index table, and then split into a digital proof for review and output.

The first step was to size the graphic into the exact size that would be printed onto the garments. Fashion garments were specified, so the printed area was smaller than a standard T-shirt and would have to be reviewed from the smallest sample size first to make sure the design would fit on the full range of garments without a costly revision of the screens. Once the size of the design was determined, the file was sized to 200 dpi at the actual printed size with a little border allowance (Figure 3).


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