Screen-Printing Tips

Before you print, screen prep is essential to your success. Learn about different methods for creating and customizing the screens you'll use for all your silk-screen projects.

Screen-Print Methods

The do-it-yourselfer has several options for making a silk screen. Find the method that's right for your project.

1. Mail Order Source  This option is perfect for beginners or those who don't want to deal with screen prep: Companies such as will burn a screen from your own artwork or photograph and send a ready-to-use screen. Change your photo to black-and-white and up the contrast to get a better sense of how it will look screen-printed.

2. Drawing Fluid and Screen Filler Method  A good choice for simple motifs, the design is first traced onto a screen. Drawing fluid painted on the design serves as a temporary mask for areas where you want ink to pass through. Next, apply screen filler, which stops ink from passing through. Rinse away drawing fluid before printing. We used Speedball products. 

3. Photographic Emulsion Method  This is the traditional silk-screen prep method. A light-sensitive photo emulsion is applied to the screen, then a special light exposes the screen to a prepared positive image to burn the design into the screen. Before you invest in equipment, check with local art studios to see if they offer public access to their tools for a small fee. 

Budget-Savvy Screen Solution

Ready-made framed screens can get pricey. If you're printing a small motif, make your own budget-savvy screen by inserting a mesh material (such as nylon or silk) or monofilament polyester screen fabric (found at art stores) into an embroidery hoop. 

Framing Your Piece

When you're ready to print, always make sure you position the screen with the words on the frame facing up. This will ensure the screen is laying flat on the surface to be printed.


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