screen printing @ home – preparing drawing/stencil

Before even exposing your screen, it’s better that you know what you want to expose in the first place. I’ve started with my pomegranate drawing, which I wrote about earlier this year. And well, it’s been a tough start. I’m going to write this out in different steps. This post is just about the preparing the drawing and printing it.

the original work looks like this:

I’ve been doing most of the work in photoshop and I absolutely love CS5!  (esp, now that i know how to work with layers) :-) Anyways, the pomegranate drawing has three colors, excluding the white background of the paper, which are – the brownish red thread, the black type writing ink and the gray pencil lines/shades.

Now for screen printing, all three colors have to be separated and exposed in different screens. A lot of this is achieved by creating layers in photoshop, which has been COMPLEX. In the end, i ended up with 10 layers and a 35 mb file.

here’s a screen shot of my layers and how i’ve created them. it wasn’t difficult to separate the thread and the text but for the parts in pencil, i want to retain the layered look in the print too. this meant that i had to print in layers too and thus have a number of screens. am i making sense? okay, it’s hard to explain.

Like in the original drawing, i want to retain the textured and layered of the look of the pencil marks in the print too. I can make it a flat gray but it wouldn’t be the same. therefore, i used my graphic tablet and created three layers with the pen/stylus. you’ll see pencil layer 1, pencil layer 2 and pencil layer 3. each layer consists of lines (or marks) that replicate the pencil strokes. i don’t know why i feel that there is a better and easier way to do this, but i don’t know what that is. i was thinking of using the reduction method by using drawing fluid and screen filler but those would be complicated too. anyways. here are the three layers on the left side:

here’s just ‘pencil layer 1 in black’:

now your drawing has to be converted to black and white for exposure. i tweak my colors by converting them into black and white or simply clicking on one layer and selecting ‘desaturate’ – under Image menu/adjustments. then I use brightness/contrast to increase the contrast. the trick here to maintain the details while also increasing the contrast. so it all depends on how much detail you want. using halftone patterns is another way you can work with screens.

the basic message, i am trying to get here is that light will not pass through the areas that are black and therefore, these parts will wash away on the screen after exposure to UV rays. I hope i can better explain this in the next steps. anyways, as far as the digital preparation goes, this is how much i’ve done for the pomegranate drawing.

next post, i’ll write about printing the layers and preparing it for exposure. my exposure unit is a simple box with four fluorescent tube lights, each two feet in length. after experimenting for four days i found out that printing the layers in double and using 20 minutes for exposure works best for me. i am crossing my fingers on this, and hoping it’ll work for the rest of the screens to come!!!

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