Screen printing artwork guide - Tips & tricks for transparencies

You've most likely been sent here by our artwork team because an amendment is needed to make your artwork ready for our exposure service. 

If you've stumbled on to this page and you are looking for a more general overview on how to prepare your artwork, you can find that here: Screen printing transparencies & artwork

We want to make you the best custom screen exposure possible, that works well and lasts. Many issues with screens stem from the artwork and whilst it might seem quite the journey to get it right, getting it wrong will only result in poor prints and a screen that won't last. 

When we receive your artwork, we do not open it in a program that is capable of making any changes to it. The program is for print only and we print at 100% to scale.

1. Artwork isn't in crisp black & white

It's really important that your artwork is crisp, and black and white only. Any blurred edges, any fuzziness, or any grey will cause the emulsion to not expose correctly. This will lead to screen breakdown.

It will not cause a cool effect, or a blurred edge when you print, or any other kind of fun effect. It will just mean your screen breaks down quickly (due to incorrect artwork) and you will have wasted your money.

The best way to check this is to really zoom in on the file you are sending us, outside of the program you created it in. See the image below, on the left the lines are crisp and solid black & white. On the right, there's grey, blur and low detail. Those areas will cause a poor exposure and will cause the emulsion to break down as you use it, we will not expose artwork like this on to a screen.

If you are using half tones it is even more important to zoom right in on the file, what looks good from a distance may cause real issues.

If you are zooming in on your file and you are not seeing any blur or grey, but we're telling you there is an issue, this is perhaps an export issue. Please send us a screen shot of your zoom in and we'll help you navigate that.

 

2. Artwork isn't sized correctly

Artwork needs to be provided on a sized template. These templates are generally already in your artwork programs, A4 or A3 etc. Alternatively if the artwork program does not have the pre set sized art boards, create art boards based on the below sizing. This sizing is just standard paper sizing.

A5 148mm x 210mm

A4 210mm x 297mm

A3 297mm x 420mm

A3+ 329mm x 483mm

A2 420mm x 594mm

Using these pre set sizes takes away any need for resizing and eliminates sizing errors. It ensures that what you send us, is what you get, at the size you want it to be on the screen. When you send us artwork on a A4 template, we pint it at 100% to scale on a A4 sized transparency - so that what you expect, is what you receive. We have sized artwork templates should you need them.

We have maximum image sizes on those templates:

A5: 140mm x 210mm
A4: 210mm x 297mm (full A4 paper size)
A3: 297mm x 380mm (smaller than actual A3 paper size)
A3+: 320mm x 475mm (easily print full A3 paper size)
These maximum image sizes ensure there is enough room around your graphic in order to print well, tape up the screen etc.

3. Artwork is too detailed / text is too thin

If the lines / detail in your artwork are thinner than the holes in the mesh, its just not going to work. The thinner the lines, the more issues they can throw up, especially if you want to get a thicker ink (like an opaque) through the screen.

Moving to a higher mesh count can help but it needs to be appropriate. A couple of good tips here would be:

If you want to stay on a lower mesh count, like 32t, 43t or 55t, lose the thinnest lines and make the rest bolder. This is especially critical for text.

If you can move up the mesh counts, remember whilst the screen can hold more detail, you'll still need to be able to get the ink through it. If you're printing on t shirts and you want good coverage, editing your artwork will help get a better result. There needs to be a compromise somewhere.

Text: Font choice plays a big part in this and it's important to look at the thickness of the font in it's thinnest areas. It's generally not the main parts of the text that cause an issue.

You might find that it's just easier to switch the font for one with a more consistent thickness. If it's causing an issue in exposure, it's going to cause an issue in print.

4. It's not a PDF

We ask for a PDF because it's easy for us to work with and it generally cuts out 'artwork' being sent in thats just a jpg dragged off of the internet..! We can accept other formats, however all the other guidelines still apply. 

Using a jpg, a png or a tiff file can help resolve quality issues, as can sending your artwork via WeTransfer rather than attaching it to an email. This is only really worth trying if you are zooming in on your artwork file and not seeing any kind of blur / grey / distortion. If you can see that grey / blur / distortion when you zoom in, sending the same file in a different way won't fix it.

We do not accept ai, psd or coral draw files. The program we use to print the transparencies, does not open them.

5. We are not an artwork service, however Fiverr is

We don't offer an in house artwork service. Our custom screen exposure service is designed to take artwork that is ready and pop it on to a screen in an efficient timescale. 

Artwork that comes in ready to print moves through the system significantly faster than artwork that is not ready as per our guidelines.

 

Fiverr can be a great service and in many cases can be a cost effective way to get your artwork over the finish line and ready to be used.  We are in no way affiliated with any sellers on Fiverr and do not recommend anyone in particular, however search for 'Convert my artwork to vector' is a good search term to use.

Sending them our artwork guide is a handy way to ensure you get back what you need to send to us.