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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have experience printing 4 color process lithographically, but not with screen printing. I am working with some people who have been screen printing for over 20 years, but have not done any process color work. We got a t-shirt press and we can print spot colors and tints without a problem, but now we are getting orders for process color shirts and unfortunately we have to turn them away to other printers. I printed my first test image and wanted to get some feedback. First let me say that I did check through the forum before printing and got some good help. Here is my current process: I entered the spectral data for my inks into photoshop and separated my RGB file into CMYK. Most of the incoming orders are for dark shirts so I skipped printing on white and went straight to black (too ambitious?). I manipulated the separations to subtract out the black (using the shirt instead) and create a white channel. The channels were then sent to film at 65lpi eliptical and burned on 305 mesh screens. The press is an M&R rotary 8 color. I was told to print white, flash, then print wet on wet yellow, magenta, and cyan in that order... correct??? The image looks more like a faded painting than a photograph. Follow the links bellow to see the print. The first link shows the original artwork. The second image compares the original artwork and the separations/dots as they should have appeared and the actual print. The third link is to a picture of the entire print. The dots seem smeared and although I was able to get dots in the highlights, they lack detail. Also, can anyone recomend any software or techniques for making a white separation for process printing on black or dark garments? I tried using fast films, but I could tell that the white channel was just not correct so I didn't bother to print it. Am I using it wrong? A salesman just recommended using the Wasatch SP RIP, but I looked into it and can't find anything saying that it supports these dark garment separations. Any help would be appreciated.

Tree on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Comparison on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Scan_of_Shirt on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
what software do you recomend for it? I have been trying FastFilms, but have had better results doing the seps myself.
 

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You can download and use free trials of FastFILMS and Spot Process. Both can do the dozens of steps required to separate for dark garments and make an underbase automaticly. Yes, the more you use it, the more you see what it does and you will learn how to tweek your original art so the finished product comes out fantastic.

FastFILMS -20 days and can create 7 different types of separations including CMYK
U.S. Screen Print & Inkjet Technology | FastFilms

Spot Process -30 days separating any 2500 pixel .TIF file into 8 unique colors in 30 seconds
Software For Screen Printers - Color Separation Software

I can use either one and have the separations made in less than 10 minutes. Of course, it then takes me 20 minutes to add all the center lines, registration marks and ink color labels etc.
 

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Printing process color on a manual press, especially on white base, is very difficult. Your squeegee pressure & squeegee angle play a very important role in how the final print appears. It might be more your printing technique, rather than the seps themselves. Since it's impossible to constantly control both pressure & angle on each stroke, you will get prints that will vary slightly in appearance. Too much pressure tends to send too much ink thru the mesh. To low a squeegee angle also deposits too much ink.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all of the responses. I used Wilflex Low Bleed White for my white base (I typically have to print on flourescent polyester so this is my standard). The underbase was printed and then flashed, the other colors were printed wet on wet. The cyan, magenta, and yellow were the standard wilflex process inks. These three inks were diluted with softhand clear in the following amounts: cyan (75%ink/25%softhand), magenta (65%ink/35%softhand), yellow (83%ink/17%softhand). The percentages are measured by weight, not volume. I am working on a new set of simulated process separations using SpotProcess with 6 inks. We have a lot of orders coming through so I don't get much press time for testing but I will post more as soon as I can get them done.

Out da Box - thanks for making that 6 color preview. What software did you use to make the separations?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have tried making simulated process separations in photoshop with little success. Here is the method I used: Put the image in index mode using 6 colors (inks I have) - then separate out the 6 different colors and then blur the "squares" created by the index mode to make it into a more continuous tone. Then I send them to the RIP to make eliptical halftones 50 lpi and all colors at 61 degrees. I have never heard of anyone doing it this way... just an idea I had. Is there a standard method? For now I am still figuring out SpotProcess.
 

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Never "blur" anything using index. Simulated process is different than index.
Basically the technique uses channels exclusively. Underbase plates, and top color plates, as well as highlight plates are sperarated out of the artwork and saved as channels. The channels are converted to "spot" colors and then outputted to a RIP to print to an inkjet or laser or imagesetter. The channels are all greyscale components of a design.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
How do you actually select the colors to go into the individual channels? Do you use the picker tool and then paste the selections in the channels? Thanks for the help - I really do appreciate your effort.
 

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Select color range, then save as channel, then convert to spot color. The process takes practice, but that's how it's done. Picking the colors is the tricky part, and then adjusting individual channels with the curves tool to get what you want. The underbase is the most important channel.
 

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I just purchased Quikseps from QuikSeps Simulated Process Color Separations.
It is the best thing I have come across for the money.
If you contact the company directly through email he will give you his ebay price of $156 w/shipping, you can't beat that. There is also a 15 day trial. I can't believe I've been doing separations for so long without a tool like this. I tried Fast Films also and it just doesn't get you where you want to be. It takes you about 70% of the way. Quikseps will get you all the way almost every time. You may still need to tweak some channels for more complicated things.
 

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Fred, that underbase process looks good, I've got to experiment with that soon. Simulated uses standard opaque colors. I uasually use the same 5 or 6 colors. They are not transparent and do not need to be mixed. They are printed with halftones and the halftone patterns can allow for color mixing rendering different shades/hues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Fred - yes the inks are plastisol, and the softhand was added because the manufacturer stated that it was necessary (and even provided the percentages). It goes without saying that the inks are transparent after diluting them. I think that they would be fairly transparent even before the dilution despite the claims by Wilflex that they are "condensed pigment load inks". Do you or anyone else have any process inks that you recommend? I am open to try new things.
 

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This is a job we just finished using the simulated process technique, this one was 3 colors- underbase white, red, highlight white. Used 65lpi screens on 230 and 355 mesh. Wilflex standard plastisol inks. That dang udc-2 emulsion is ultra for detail!
 

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i use spot process(the stand alone version. not the photoshop plugin) I absolutely love it. There is always a bit of tweaking involved but one of the beauties of spot process is you can load textile values (gildan, hanes, etc) and also ink values(wilflex, rutland). I used to do my simulated process painstakingly by hand in photoshop but since i got spot process a few years back. Its all i will ever use
 
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