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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Helpful Tips For Art and Seps for Screenprinting (Illustrator and Photoshop) and some basic universal concepts and approaches...

I have made just about every mistake possible when it comes to this topic so i figured i would post a few of my little "MUSTS" to make life a bit easier

In my opinion, those who have both Illustrator and Photoshop, and are just starting out.....

Calibrate your monitor, and in adobe bridge you can calibrate your color settings for all adobe applications so that what you see in photoshop appears the same as in illustrator and if all calibrated properly, then what you see is what will print through your color printer as long as the images are not out of color range of what the printer can print. I believe that is called out of gamut.

1) Neither program is more important than the other.. As a screenprinter/designer you will find all sorts of customers who come to you with all sorts of ridiculous requests.. Learning both programs at the same time although a bit frustrating at times, is the wise choice... trust me you will look back and be thankful you did. Each program has its limits but use them both to compliment each other, there will be absolutely no screenprinting job you can not handle as long as it can be done by silk screening.

2) Small steps.. create a new document in either application and pick 1 tool and "take it to your canvas" see what it does. I started out in illustrator with the rectangle tool in the tool pallet.. I double clicked on it, i right clicked on it, i held shift while i made my first rectangle.. a whole bunch of things i tried... Then i just went to Help/Illustrator Help and located that tool in the help documents and read about it... I did the same thing with 2 or 3 tools per day in both Illustrator and Photoshop.. I picked a tool, tried it then read about it. Then i would give myself little test projects like simple 1,2, and 3 color designs that i had seen while i was screenprinting over the years.. Things like Text with different color outlines, arcing the text, basic shapes and stuff like that... Do that every day. A little bit in both programs.. Soon you will see the difference between Vector and Raster art.

3)Take notice of every menu command and every tool that you use in either program... Just about every one has a keyboard shortcut for easy acess to that tool or command... I cant tell you how much time it saves in the designing process... As the days and weeks go by you will find you are learning more and more and getting better by the day.. you draw this, you center that, you need to reposition this, you need to change a color on that.. each one of those things uses a different tool or command.. If you are in illustrator working on an object and you are using your selection tool but now you need to move the canvas over a little bit to the left.. why drop the tool you are using and go all the way to your toolbox and grab the hand tool just to move the page when you can just quickly hit the space bar on you keyboard and your active tool temporarily becomes a hand so you can grab the canvas and move it.. Let go of the space bar and you tool goes back to the original one you were using.. TRUST ME.. TONS OF TIME YOU WILL SAVE!!!!!

4) Create your files right from the start at the document set up at the exact size of the films or whatever you will be printing on.. Unless you will be printing CMYK a.k.a 4 color process, you do not need to set your color mode to CMYK at the set up of your document.. Choose RGB color mode because sometimes these designs and files can get rather large and CMYK mode just makes them larger than they need to be. (if you are going to print 4 color process you must be in cmyk mode). Once you have created the blank document and are ready to go.. Save the file immediately.. adobe cs,cs2, and cs3 all have something called version cue.. USE IT!! It is so much easier saving a version of a file and jumping back to earlier saved versions if you need to rather than having 10 different copies of the same file.. It becomes very easy to lose track of what you did on what copy and it is possible that you print films and whatever from a file that was not the one you intended.. With version cue, you can save versions of the same file and add notes as to what changes you made or whatever.. These different versions you can view all of them through adobe bridge which is part of the cs package and in your finder or explorer it will only appear as one file..

5) If you know you will be using certain colors already in illustrator, right at the beginning before you do any artwork, go to your swatches pallet and go to its options and select all unused and throw them in the trash.. why keep stumbling through swatches you wont need or be using.. If you are gonna be creating a 5 color job, then go ahead and create new swatches as SPOT colors and name them whatever is appropriate, you can also choose to load spot colors from a pantone library that is already in your loadable swatches pallet... So now every item you are gonna add to your document you can fill with one of these predefined swatches you already made.. keeping track of objects and their colors is very important because if you are printing that design for seps, unless every item is colored with one of those swatches, it wont print , it would only print through the cmyk options and you dont want that!

6) When creating a new document in photoshop, always create the canvas size at the size your film or other media is going to be.. Create it with a resolution of a minimum of 300 dpi..that way all your print outs will be nice and crisp and clean.. also create this new document with a transparent background.. This way if you have any white in your design, you can distinguish it very easily from the background.. If you want a background and you probably will for shirt colors or whatever, create a new layer in the open document and fill it with the color you want it to be.. Simply name that layer background layer or whatever and then you can easily toggle visibility on or off as needed

7) In illustrator, not only do i make a background layer and color it, i also go to view/show grid and that will help me see any white or other tough to see elements of my art.

8) If placing or opening an original file or scan or something else in either program.. I always make a layer for the original and lock it. If i need to make changes to it or completely hack it up, i do it to a copy of the file or a copy of that original layer.. Never alter the original..ITS A JUST IN CASE PRECAUTION! its always embarrassing to tell a customer you lost the original can you please resend it?

9) SAVE SAVE SAVE!! on Mac its shortcut is command key (the apple key)/s. Back in the day before i crossed over to mac and way before windows vista, if we pushed our systems too hard, we would get that "blue screen of death" that we could do nothing else except to do a hard reboot.. Of course i had to lose hours upon hours of open never saved artwork to find that out the hard way.. Save yourself a lot of pain and save your files every 15 minutes or save versions as often as you remember.

10) Over the years i have purchased and filled up over 4 tb's with work art on external hard drives ( tb= terabyte 1tb=1024 gigabytes).. So far i have lost 750 gigabytes of archived artwork and sep files due to hardware malfunction.. This does happen more often than you may think.. Do yourselves a favor and back up your files to writeable dvd's or cd's.. Those damaged hard drives contained so much information.. if i think about what was lost, i wanna just go berzerk.. Dont find out the hard way


There is so much more to add to this list but for now this is enough typing for me... Years back I read some sort of statistic stating something like over 80% of all screenprinting problems happen before the screens even hit the press. If thats true, then it all starts from the art and flows from there
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Jimmy what happen to number 10?

10). Buy a Mac and use your PC as a paperweight.:D

LOL.. Well let me just say this.. If you owned a ferrari, would you feel the need to pull up to everyone at red lights and rub it in their faces? Or is just knowing you have one good enough :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
thanks guys.. you know.. oddly enough, last night i somehow corrupted 2 different system startup drives.. I use 4 different drives that i choose to start up from, and i just thought maybe somebody could appreciate how i had just posted about backing up files and just a few hours later, pretty much frazzled 2 hd's.. They didnt go bad... I just gotta reformat and reinstall the operating systems.. I pretty much have backups of backups so i am not too worried about information loss.. Its just a holy hassle to reformat, reinstall, and re configure everything just right... UGH... oh well.. Live and learn.. I shouldnt have done what i was doing anyway.. I know better..
 
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