We’ve said it before: A great screen print begins with great artwork. In a previous blog, we identified five common artwork mistakes that could be keeping you from getting the perfect print. Here are five more artwork mistakes to avoid in your screen printing shop.
In a screen printing shop, time is money. It’s natural to want to get images out of your art department and into production as soon as possible. In a worst case scenario, that can lead to mistakes in spelling, sizing or other details. At the very least, rushing your work likely will stand in the way of creating an optimal design. Staring at the same image on your computer screen for too long can be fatiguing. When you’ve finished a design, close out the file and walk away. Take a coffee break or leave the image to rest overnight. When you look at it with fresh eyes, you might see an error that didn’t stand out before, or you might see areas for improvement.
It can be tempting to get as fancy as possible with your screen printing design, incorporating as many colors and as many details as possible. Too many colors in one screen print can be problematic — It can require too many screens and too many steps to print efficiently, or it could look jumbled and overly complicated. Simplify the details and colors in your design for a cleaner look. If a customer brings a complicated print with too many colors to you, be prepared to talk to your customer about the limitations of screen printing so many colors and suggest how simplifying the design may make for a better screen print.
Another common artwork problem is not considering the color of your substrate as you design your artwork. The color of your substrate should complement the colors you choose for your artwork. It also should provide enough contrast that your design stands out from your substrate. As you choose your substrate color and design your artwork, keep in mind that you can use your substrate color to provide details to your artwork and that some substrate colors might pose difficulties in your printing process. For example, a light image on a dark substrate will require a white underbase, and a brightly colored synthetic shirt with light artwork might require a low-bleed additive.
Typography, or the style and details of the fonts you use, has a big impact on your design style. Too many fonts make a design look chaotic and unsophisticated. The wrong font can look outdated or be difficult to read. You don’t have to be a typography expert, but doing a little research and following a few best practices can help. Limit your design to one or two fonts. Avoid overly complicated fonts that can be difficult to print and read. Fonts with serifs tend to have a more classic look, while fonts sans serif tend to look cleaner and more modern.
When your artwork is finished, don’t rush into the separations and printing of the film positives. Take the time to refine your artwork. This will give your final print the professional, polished look your customers are looking for. Take the time to smooth out any rough or pixelated edges. Refine the spacing in your type; to look more even or be easier to read, some fonts might require you to adjust the spacing between letters or between lines. Always check your spelling. Finally, have someone else in your shop take a look at your artwork before you move on to separating and printing, and send your refined proof off to your customer for approval.
What separates good printers from great printers is attention to detail, which means following best practices and avoiding common mistakes. Avoiding these five common artwork mistakes will start your printing off with the right foot, with a quality image that will print well. Taking the time to develop a better image, making sure the colors of your image and the colors of your substrate are idea, learning a little about typography and refining your artwork before you print will set your screen printing apart from the competition and result in great images your customers are happy with.
Want some more tips on producing successful artwork for screen printing? Check out these blogs: