Sep 22

Artwork Do’s and Don’ts

Good artwork is the foundation of a great product. But what exactly does that mean? Well, let’s first take a look at what that doesn’t mean.   Artwork for screenprinting is not:

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  • a hand drawn picture colored with pencils, crayons, or paint. It might look great but it can’t be used to make the screens.

  • any file with the extension of .jpg,  .gif,  .tff . The problem with files like these is they are built as pixels. Straight lines are not solid lines but are jagged when enlarged.

  • a picture or logo from a website. They are simply pictures and when downloaded will be in the .jpg,  .gif, .tif format. See above for explanation.

  • a business card or letterhead.  These can be recreated by scanning them into the computer but, someone somewhere has already created the art and has it in digital form.  Why reinvent the wheel?

  • a garment or vehicle with a graphic printed on it. We would have to take a picture and then convert it to usable artwork.

The above list represents ideas. It’s a great place to start. Then we know what the customer is thinking. Now we have to convert those ideas into usable artwork within the constraints of screenprinting.

Artwork must be in the vector format. What does that mean? According to Wikipedia Vector graphics is the use of polygons to represent images in computer graphics. Vector graphics are based on vectors, which lead through locations called control points or nodes. Each of these points has a definite position on the x and y axes of the work plane and determines the direction of the path; 151521-simpsons_bfurther, each path may be assigned various attributes, including such values as stroke color, shape, curve, thickness, and fill.  I just thought I’d give the official definition in case you ever get to be a contestant on Jeopardy.

 

Basically, there are two graphics programs commonly used in the industry today, CorelDraw and Adobe Illustrator, that create artwork in vector format. Vector artwork has several advantages:

Difference between a bitmap and vector piece of artwork

Difference between a bitmap and vector piece of artwork

  •  can be resized without losing picture quality

  •  can easily be edited

  •  can add visual elements to enhance a design

  •  allows for easier color separation

A popular program that many people use to make artwork is Photoshop. Photoshop is a raster graphic editor program. When is saves a file it uses the .PSB or .PSD extension.  A raster program includes digital photos (think .jpeg, .gif, .tff extensions). Again, here we are dealing with pixelation which prevents smooth lines when enlarged. Also, with the way artwork is built in Photoshop, separating colors is much more difficult as files are constructed layers for the different elements. Any artwork created in Photoshop will have to be converted to a vector file before is can be used for screenprinting.

Next time I’ll be discussing what happens when artwork is completed, the purpose of color separations, and how screens are prepped and exposed. See you in the screen room!

 

 

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Sep 10

Let’s Start at the Beginning

You’ve probably purchased dozens of shirts over the years that had great designs printed on the front. Maybe it was that  “85 Bears jersey, a remembrance of your trip to Las Vegas, or some witty saying that caught your eye. Whatever the occasion your shirt was imprinted using a process called screenprinting. You’ve heard the term before but did you ever wonder what is all involved in screenprinting a garment? Well, before we get to the nitty gritty of the process let’s look a little history.

Emperor Taizu of Song, a court portrait painting

Emperor Taizu of Song, a court portrait painting

Screen printing has its beginnings in China, specifically in the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). This was a prosperous time both culturally and economically. The design was produced on silk that was attached to a wooden frame.  It wasn’t until the 18th century that screen printing gained popularity in Europe and Asia when silk became more readily available.

In 1910, through their tireless experimentation of photo reactive chemicals, the trio of Roy Beck, Charles Peter, and Edward Owens revolutionized the process by introducing photo-reactive stencils. Today, thanks to the hard work of these three men, we now have a generous selection of emulsion mixtures for creating the stencils we use to print a design.

Andy Warhol started creating silk screened prints in 1962

Andy Warhol started creating silk screened prints in 1962

During the 1940’s the war effort led to the abandonment of using silk for the making of screens. Polyester material became the mesh of choice. Polyester gave greater stability and endurance and variety of mesh count. Today it is the standard for the screen print industry.

1960 brought another innovation for the printing process when thAmerican Entrepreneur Michael Vasilantone developed a rotary, multicolor screen printing machine. He filed for a patent in 1967 and licensed his invention to several equipment manufacturers thus expanding the availability of the rotary printing machine to artisans and commercial printers everywhere.

Thanks to the hard work and determination of many fine people screen printing has become a viable and profitable modern day business.  With the advancements in printers, inks, screen preparations, and ovens it is now possible to print 100’s of shirts an hour. To quote the Printers’ National Environmental Assistance Center  “Screenprinting is arguably the most versatile of all printing processes”. I agree!

 

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Aug 31

New and Improved Art Newvo

It’s been a long time in the making but we are finally ready to introduce our new and improved website.  We’ve given it a complete makeover!  There are a few new bells and whistles to give you a more interactive experience. Our product page now features a virtual catalog where you can flip through the pages just as if you had the physical one in your hands. We’ve added a slideshow galleryDSCN1149 of artwork examples that we’ve produced over the years. The about page gives a little more history and explanation of the different preprinted brands we’ve created.  You’ll see more frequent posts on all kinds of topics ranging from screenprinting history, production notes, and product sales.  You can now connect with us on Facebook with Google+ , Twitter, and Pinterest coming soon.  And don’t forget to check our our WhackKnack store. It has a variety of shirts, hoodies, and knick knacks.

We’d love to hear your comments and suggestions. And don’t forget to signup for our e-newsletter.  Hope to hear from you soon!

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