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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys.

Soo... im venturing into the realm of process printing. ive got the separations nailed; all on 305 mesh screen, lined up on press, ready to rock and roll.

the image is coming out alright, but its too dark. Im printing on white shirts. Ive messed with the order i lay the colors down, but still its too dark. Are they any suggestions for fixing this? What about laying down a white layer first for the inks to set on?
 

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the image is coming out alright, but its too dark.
The first thing i will ask is, are you accounting for dot gain on press when doing the separation? this is what a color profile is used for.
I often lightened up my shadow areas before separation process jobs to compensate for how contrasting black ink is compared to the other colros, i'd rather have more of the other colors mixing and just a little amount of black ink, it's very easy to print too much black in one pass :/
Also are you using process black ink?

towards the end of my years testing and printing different CMYK setups i started using 2 blacks for consistency and more control on the shading. one black was just for the solid black areas and lines so that screen could be printed hard while the shading screen would be hit for a minimal deposit.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
ok, so curves in photoshop adjust down for C and K. I found that if i flood the screen first I can press the ink down into the shirt with less pressure when I print and that makes it lighter as well. I did find out that I was NOT using process black. once i switched to process black it seemed to help as well, but the curves thing I will have to try.
 

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I did find out that I was NOT using process black. once i switched to process black it seemed to help as well, but the curves thing I will have to try.
Using process black ink will help, won't make your print as dark, it's more of a muddy black color and is translucent so that makes a difference, there's wont be such a harsh contrast. You may have issues with process black if you have large areas of solid black tho, one way to help with that is increase (or add) the CMY to your solid black areas for better ink coverage.

For the last 3 years of printing process work i switched from using the actual process black ink to a reduced standard black and this worked well. When using this reduced standard black ink i did adjust the separation (using tone curve, levels, brightness/contrast and hue/saturation) so the shadows weren't as dark and this made a big difference. Before that, using the process black ink, i didn't have to adjust the shadows as much (but i also wasn't that content with the results of the print)
 

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Hey guys.

Soo... im venturing into the realm of process printing. ive got the separations nailed; all on 305 mesh screen, lined up on press, ready to rock and roll.

the image is coming out alright, but its too dark. Im printing on white shirts. Ive messed with the order i lay the colors down, but still its too dark. Are they any suggestions for fixing this? What about laying down a white layer first for the inks to set on?
There are so many variables to take into consideration.. at least 90% of all screen printing problems happen before the screens even reach the press.. Unfortunately we don't know a lot of these things till we actually take a print but.... Here are the things to consider when printing cmyk

Make sure your customer knows that if you are not on an automatic press, that no 2 shirts will look exactly the same because transparent ink like process inks are completely pressure sensitive

First the art... you must adjust the levels of your colors.. set your white point, gray and black points in your levels control.. this is a must...( basically tell photoshop with the eyedropper in the levels menu what is 100% white and what is 100% black in your image.. you may also wanna adjust your curves a bit so your image doesn't look too muddy right from the start..

If you are on a manual press.. set your dot gain in photoshop for at least 25% (trust me on this.. I would even go 30% dot gain)

If you are on a manual press, i absolutely would not use 305 mesh... I would opt for 255 mesh for a manual press.. always remember that the screen mesh you are going to use will always determin the lpi (many people use different lpi's) Personally I never ever get a moire pattern if I take my mesh count and divide it by 4.73 (example 255 mesh divided by 4.73 ---->53.91 lpi is what i would set my film output for.. Also.. you can listen to the majority of separators tell you to use different screen angles for each screen.. Hell no!! i use the same angle across the board.. for everything..Usually 22.5 degree angles (this also helps with dot gain on the press actually)

a highlight white screen i would also use.. this will help blend the colors better and it will also help with any pastels that may be in the image.

I also know that most ink companies have color values for their process inks that you can load directly into photoshop.. try it.. it will help...( if you do this correctly, you won't have to add soft hand to your inks and "dilute them") You should then be able to use the process inks right outa the bucket

there are other things for seps to consider but now for the press tips....

On the press... use hard squeeges, make sure you have proper off contact and single stroke is the key..

It all takes time and patience.. I have been screen printing and doing seps for over 20 years and there is no easy "do this and this and you're good to go" It's a learning process and the mistakes you make while learning will be so valuable I can't even begin to explain..

If you have any questions.. Private message me and i will lead you in the right direction
 

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Actually in all honesty, i always always always try and talk the customer into going the simulated process route and to jockey up and pay for the extra screens.. it is soooo worth it.. Especially since it always looks better in my opintion and printing on dark garments is not an issue.I have a 14 color press though so i never have a screen limit issue.. This may not be the best route for you though
 

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Discussion Starter #9
hey smokestack. thanks for that information. I have two, four station manual presses so yea... i cant really go with anymore screens but the process colors. thanks for all of that information. The prints came out darker than I had hoped, and I would have gone back and reburned the seps with the curves and dot gain adjusted, but the client gave me 5 days to do this job... needless to say i was limited on time for it.

Ive been reading that most printers on here have been using 305 but Ill have to try the 255 next time. seems like that wouldnt work as good since the process inks are much thinner than my regular plasticols.

oh, and how do you set the dot gain in photoshop?
 
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