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If you're looking to create your own screen printing designs, using Photoshop can help you to make some of the more tedious tasks a bit easier. By employing the help of both layers and layer styles, you can quickly create a multi-layer design in no time. This quick walkthrough assumes that you have a basic knowledge of designing in Photoshop, as well as an understanding of screen printing. If you're looking to learn a little more about screen printing, why not check out these two great articles?
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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).
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Printing on Clear Acetate
There are special clear "papers" that you can print on, and these can remove the step of having to trace your design by hand onto a sheet of clear acetate. However, if you choose to go this route, please make sure you get a sheet of a paper that is compatible with your type of printer. There is also the option of going to your local print shop, say a Xerox or a Kinkos, and asking if they have the ability to print your images on sheets of clear acetate. It's a cheap and easy solution if you're just going to do this a few times.
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Information & Image Credits
Images: All images were created by the author of the article.
Information Resources: Author's personal experience with design and screen printing.