Monday, June 27, 2011

How to Make Spot Color Separations for T-Shirts

Let's assume you have created a multi-color design that you'd like to print on a T-Shirt. Typically, the design has elements of color, logos, typography and perhaps illustration. You probably used Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop to create the design.
This technique works great on line art with spot colors.

Here is a simple technique for separating the colors so they may be printed on clear vellum, a.k.a. as "film positives". You will need a film positive for each color in your design. The film positives are used to put the image screen printing stencils. This technique is not for printing full color photos, in other words this is not for process color printing with halftone dots.

Open your design in Photoshop. If it exists in an Illustrator vector graphic format, export it to Photoshop and save it as a jpg or tif file.

Right away I will admit I'm still using Photoshop 7, as opposed to the latest version. Hey, I actually paid for it years back, and for my simple T-shirt printer needs it still works. So there you go!

From the tool menu choose the eye dropper icon and use it to sample the first color you'd like to separate, by putting the eye dropper over that color and clicking. From the "select" pull down menu choose color range. Move the fuzziness slider to 110 and click OK. The color is now selected in the design.

Open the channels pallet and go to the arrow in the upper right hand corner to open a pull down menu. Select "New Spot Channel". This opens the new spot channel dialog box. Click on color and select the same color that you are separating. Put "100%" in the solidity field. Name the color as you like. Click OK and your new spot color appears in the channels pallet.

Repeat this process for each color in your design until you have created a new spot channel for each. To print film positives, load your printer with clear vellum. Any channel that has the eye icon "on" will print. Be sure to indicate that you want to print registration marks in the print dialog box. By the way, it is a good idea to print out proofs of your seps on cheap paper first to check them.

If anyone has any questions about how to do this, zip me an email. It can be fussy the first couple times you try. And of course, if you need a quote on a job, I'm ready to help with that too!

Finally, there are times when I run into T-Shirt sep jobs that are beyond my capability. What to do in a situation like that? I highly recommend the services of Scott Fresener, the master of T-Shirt color separations.

Steve Lafler
Manx Media Custom Screen Printing

Friday, June 24, 2011

Manx Media Imprintable T-Shirt Catalog

I just posted our new catalog of T-Shirts and apparel here. You'll find dozens of styles of T-Shirts, Womens Ts & tops by Bella, Hoodies, Child styles and more.
Whether you are shopping for basic T-shirts, party looks, punk sexy, boomer sack shirts or bland office drone apparel, you will find anything you want in the Manx catalog.
I can quote your print job on your favorite items.

Punk, hippy, slacker, we got ya covered.

Happy Shopping,

Steve Lafler
Manx Media

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Get a Custom T-Shirt Printing Quote

Here is a sample of a full color T-Shirt design we printed for Sarah's Science. I did the art for this one too.

So you want to get some T-Shirts printed. Chances are you have a design, or an idea for a design. The shirt may be for your business, school, band, club, fundraiser, event or just for fun. My business is wholesale T-Shirt printing, so let's get started.

I can make a quote for you based on some basic information about your project. Here's what I need to know:

* Quantity of shirts
* Size breakdown
* Number of colors in your design. Shirt color does not count. White and black do.
* Color of shirt you'd like to print on
* Type of shirt, for example basic T-Shirt, Child T-Shirt, Women's scoop neck T, etc.

Go ahead and email me this information, and I can create an accurate quote for your T-Shirt printing project. I should mention that Manx Media has a minimum order of 50 shirts. We are quality and service oriented. Our priority is to do a top notch job and put the shirts in your hands by your deadline.

I consider it a privilege to be able to quote on your job. I appreciate the opportunity to set you up with some great looking shirts.

Steve Lafler
Manx Media

Phone 503-213-3671
Printing and shipping from Portland, Oregon and Oakland, California.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How to Screen Print T-Shirts

Screen Printing is an amazing technology. You can print intense, bright ink on just about anything with it. Of course it's great for printing T-Shirts. With a trip to the art supply and hardware stores, you can set up to print in short order. You can also source screen printing supplies on the web, or from wholesale screen printing suppliers. Here is as link to one other online supplier.

Let's assume you've already created a design that exists as a digital file. You mighta used Photoshop or even word, but it's done, right? For first timers, it is best to start with a design for printing in just one color of ink.

Get some clear vellum paper and print out your design on it. Use a laser printer for best results. The print is a film positive, used to put the image on a screen. The print must be opaque to make a screen. If it's not opaque, draw on the back with a black marker or brush and ink.

Buy a ready made screen print frame, stretched with synthetic mesh fabric. You can stretch your own screen fabric if you prefer. Choose a mesh count that is versatile. For general T-Shirt printing, start with a 110 - 180 mesh. Anything in that range should do. T-Shirt printers use mesh counts from 80 to 350, but a mesh of about 150 is the most versatile.
Clean the screen print frame with soapy water and rinse completely. Let it dry overnight.

Purchase some photo emulsion that can be used with water based ink. The emulsion must be sensitized before use. Mix the sensitiser as per the instructions that come with it. Do this in the dark!

Coat both sides of the screen with the emulsion. Use a stiff piece of illustration board or a squeegee. You can also buy a metal screen coating tool, a trough that you pour emulsion in, then coat the screen with. Go for an opaque, thin layer of emulsion. Remove any excess drippy emulsion with a stroke or two on each side. Put the screen in a dark place, face down. Let it dry overnight.

Check out the image above, how to burn a screen. You will use the film positive to put the image on a screen. This step must be done in a darkened room, with running warm water available. Cut a piece of foam rubber to fit inside your screen print frame. Place the piece of foam rubber on a flat surface. Place the screen print frame face down over the foam. Put the film positive face down and centered on the back of the screen. A piece of heavy glass goes on top of the film, frame and foam. Quarter inch glass is great for this as it holds the film positive in close contact with the screen print frame.
Hang a halide light about 15 - 18 inches over the film positive. Turn it on for about five to eight minutes. Exposure time depends on your emulsion. Check the instructions that came with the it for recommendations on exposure time. Often some trial and error is necessary.
If your design washes out, increase your exposure time. If it clogs up, decrease your exposure time.

Turn the light off and develop the image on the screen with a spray of warm water. Spray both sides of the screen until the image area is completely developed. Blot both sides of the screen with newsprint and let it dry in a well lit or sunny area.

Once the screen is dry, put packing tape or masking tape along the inside edges of the screen. Taping it out like this will stop ink from leaking at the side. Also inspect the screen for pinholes. You can block unwanted holes with tape or screen block.

If you have a T-Shirt press, put the screen in the print head and tighten, centering the image on the shirt board.

If you don't, it's not problem. I started running T-Shirts on a kitchen table. Just put a piece of newspaper in side each T-Shirt prior to printing to avoid the ink splooging out to the back of the shirt.

Lay the shirt flat on a table. Put the screen print frame over it. Put a bit of screen printing ink in the end of the frame opposite you. Use one hand to pull the squeegee towards yourself and the other to firmly hold the screen down. Lift the screen to check results. Once the print looks really good, print multiples.

I recommend that beginners use water based screen print ink for ease of use. The leading brands are Speedball and Versatex. Union Aerotex is a top brand of commercial waterbased ink, available from Midwest Sign (the first supplier link above).

Have fun and be patient!

Steve Lafler
Manx Media Custom Screen Printing

Monday, June 20, 2011

Make Your Own Custom T-Shirts

I am in the custom T-Shirt printing business, it's true. Maybe you'd think it's bad business for me to tell people how to make their own decorated shirts! But the fact it, with my minimum order at 50 shirts, there is plenty of reason to let people know what their options are.
If you need to put a design on just a few T-Shirts, I recommend using the tried and true ink jet transfer technique. Really, for short run full color, it's the only way to go.
Start by sourcing a few T-Shirts at relatively low cost at your local big box retailer. I'd stick to white or light T-Shirts as the transfer will look best on it. If you can't find blank T's at a good price, zip me an email and I'll set you up with blanks for a reasonable price.

You can do ink jet transfers on dark shirts too, just be sure to trim away the white margins from the ink jet paper before ironing.

You will need one piece of transfer paper for each shirt. You can buy ink jet T-Shirt transfer paper at most office supply stores, or you can order it online from Avery.
Of course you will need a design! Use a graphics or word processing program to set up a design. You can use typography, illustration, photos, and color in your design. Try to create something that will read well from a few feet away.
The design must be flipped horizontally to it's mirror image, then printed on the transfer paper. You can do this in Photoshop from the image pull down menu, and I understand you can do it in Microsoft Word also. I don't use Word, so you'll have to look in the help menu for tips on flipping the design. Or, just export the design as a PDF file and flip it in Photoshop!
Once you've printed your transfer paper, you are ready to print. Set an iron on cotton/high heat. Place each T-Shirt on a flat surface and place the printed transfer paper face down over it with the print in the desired position. Iron the back of the design firmly in a circular motion for three or four minutes to transfer the image to the shirt.
When washing, turn the shirt inside out and wash in cold water. The print will last longer if you do this. It will not last as long as a screen print, but still you get a great looking printed T-Shirt for a very low price.
Of course, when you decide you want a top flight screen printer to do your run of 50 shirts or more, I hope you will email me for a quote on the job!