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Screen Printing Methods Explained


Unfamiliar with screen printing? Some of the terminology leave you baffled?

There are several ways in which we can reproduce your artwork for screen printed t-shirts or any other garment. Each method will produce varying results. Although it’s not essential for you as a designer or customer to understand these processes, it does help during the artwork preparation stages. Here’s a basic guide to the processes.


Spot colour is the process of printing solid colour fills. Designs that are easy to separate. Each colour is printed 1 at a time, typically lightest to darkest and can be overlapped by flashing between colours. Flashing between each colour is the process of partially curing or drying the top layer of printed ink just enough to allow a further colour to be printed on top.

During the artwork preparation stages, it is best to keep each colour element of your design separate. For example if you’re working with Photoshop you would create a layer for each colour. If you’re creating your artwork within a vector package such as Illustrator or Corel Draw you can group the various elements of the same colour.


Simply put, halftones are varying size dots that when viewed at a distance, have the appearance of continuous shades or gradients. Using half tones allows us to print photographs as a monochrome image, or we can use simulated process to print various colour halftones to create a full colour image.

Half tone is easy for you. Provide us with your highest quality jpg or photoshop file and we’ll do the rest. We take your artwork and using a Rip software which calculates the varying shade percentages and outputs them to halftone dots.


CMYK is one of the oldest methods used for reproducing full colour designs. Much like your desktop inkjet printer, the print process involves overlapping halftone dots in the colours Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (or key for “K”) to create a full colour design. Typically, this process is only used on White garments as the inks used for CMYK printing have a low density/opacity to allow the overlapping of colours to blend.

CMYK can be tricky, we recommend you provide the best quality artwork you have available and we’ll take care of the rest. It’s important we handle this so we can tweak the varying colour levels to ensure the best possible print out put on press.


Simulated process is suited to printing full colour designs or even photographs, especially on garment colours other than white. We use varying halftone colours which are layered to simulate new colours. This means with only a limited amount of colours we can produce the illusion of many.

Chances are if your artwork requires simulated process, the artwork has lots of colours. To make it easier always work to scale or larger than the actual print size within your graphics design package (photoshop, illustrator, corel draw etc). We will take care of the colour separation and tweak the levels to produce the best possible print.

That’s all fine and dandy but!

I’m still confused which process do I need to go for!?
Well, don’t you worry your little socks. We’ve got you’re back, let us decide! We’re the experts at artwork print reproduction and we’ll ensure to choose the method that gives you the best possible printed t-shirt.

Are there any extra fees depending on the process used?
No, the standard fees apply based on number of colours and quantity. If we can save you money by printing using CMYK or Simulated process to produce a full colour design, we’ll always favor this option and inform you of this during the order process.


Screen printing is versatile. No other print process allows for the level of detail or versatility in print style variations. If you can dream it, as a rule we can print it.

About the author

The “Gaffer” and screen printer. Danny splits his workload between ruling the roost and screen printing duties. Fueled by copious amounts of monster energy, an unhealthy obsession with motor sport and rock and roll music!

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1 Response
  1. I can see why white garments are used for CMYK printing. The white is probably the best color to blend overlapping colors. I’ll have to remember your tips the next time I work with screen printing.

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