Creating Stencils for Screen Printing with Photoshop
When you begin to create a design for screen printing, you have to remember that each color has to be laid down individually via separate stencils. Doing this by hand can be somewhat of a chore, but using Photoshop's layer feature can make this much easier. Imagine how much easier it would be if you just designed each individual color element on a separate layer? For example, here's a koi fish that I designed to show you what I mean.
As you can see, this koi is an extremely simple design when you break it down. Say we're going to start with a baby blue t-shirt or baby blue cardstock - whatever you enjoy screen printing on.
Seeing as I went for a calico koi there's a white base layer for the body of the fish. Keep in mind that if you're going to be printing a white design on something other than a white t-shirt or cardstock, you're going to need a good quality opaque white paint!
...Orange swirly lines go on top of that as the first detail color...
...then gray swirly lines lay on top of the orange.
A yellow eye helps brighten up the face of the fish...
... And then the outlines solidify the design and clean it up!
It's a surprisingly simple design that results in five easy to manage stencils, that when laid together properly will create a great design. Printing them is easy as well. All you've got to do is simply save each layer by itself (though if you are using a white base layer, you're going to want to use a color overlay layer style and convert it to black, which will make it possible to trace onto a clear sheet of clear acetate. However, it's not a bad idea to color overlay all of the sections as black either, especially if you are printing them directly on clear acetate (read more about that below).