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This is some art I created with the client, we set up a cool new shirt full-back for him and I used exact-mathematical color-separations of the Red, Medium-Grey, and Underbase White, applied some general spot-variation response curves because of how I was running films and screens and printing it... 3 screens / colors total on black shirts.

The image shown below, is the first print after registration and setup on a pellon and then doing one on a shirt with the reg marks, taped off the reg marks and printed this, but not part of the order yet. Going in today in a bit to print the run, may need to tweak registration a hair still and get it filling in a bit more, as I tweaked for dot-response then it is set to print better with multiple-hits of the colors.

This is my first time actually doing my own manual screenprinting at a screenprint company after 10 years of graphics, art, pre-press and color-separation experience at many shops small and large. Taking everything I knew going in, having about a month of regular jobs and about 2 or 3 multi-color spot-color and single-color halftone prints... I felt confident to take some art like this to the next level and try printing it manually, a high-end simulated-process/halftone blend photo-realistic style, and pushing myself to do it right and get a great print out of it... this is the real fun as an artist and printing professional to bring my own designs to life myself now throughout the whole process, but this is my first time taking my own kind of high-end art like this and separations and going past the film-output stage into making the screens and all the way to setup and print... but with a month and a half in some experience manual printing already and being comfortable with some of the variables and methods I'm learning and experiencing on the physical side, I went ahead with it, and I'm impressed and satisfied a little bit at least with the results, there are some things I think may come out a little better as I get printing the run or it may start filling in too much, maybe some things I could have done a little different in the art or the curves of the separation control. But the separation gradients are mathematical extractions from the original artwork, not an artistic or arbitrary process of themselves. That is the main thing people don't seem to understand about color separations from an image. It only matters what colors or ink-colors you are trying to extract from the image to blend back together, those are mathematical gradients, and have specific ways to get them. The other half is the halftone method that makes the stippling of dots of ink to produce blending of the shades of the gradients you extracted - but they only also need mathematical variables to be accounted for in reproducing the right gradient. Nothing about the color separation or halftone RIP or print process on this example was an ARTFORM - the art I created with the customer present and creatively going through variations to arrive at a final approved design we all liked, within about an hour or two, was the ARTWORK. The process from there on out is a scientific procedure carried out with technical tools and eventually physical devices and chemicals and materials etc, all with their own very scientific values and characteristics. But the decisions made in working with all that through both experience and scientific-method-style analysis or trial-and-error as well.. but taking things into account on a logical level, all that is not an artistic or creative thing... it is creative problem-solving but the problem is to reproduce the original image as best as possible within the constraints of the physical process.
Printing by definition is just the reproduction of an original pattern, not the pattern itself. A new pattern may be made, halftones are essentially new patterns and combining them is a complex new pattern in its own way, which is intended to simulate best-as-possible the original image, without displaying millions of variations of light, we must make millions of variations of a few colors of ink... that is the stippling and we use all these mathematical and scientific tools from the computer to printers and the screens and emulsion and methods themselves are all very modern and scientifically derived. But it is reproduction of the original. In my goal as color-separating the original art I created, I was not making any new-art decisions, only translating it through very methodical procedures that use the math of the original values to create the gradient-ramp blending mixtures of the new ink-color values. But I automate those things into my own buttons to make it quick, all the way to rip as well, using certain rules about the halftone blending so that what you convert to halftones is also going to produce the desired result in their mix like the contone gradient was.

Print Specs:

All films printed 100% CMYK standard inks from Epson Artisan 1430 on 13x19 waterproof film. Exposed on a Vastex multi-bulb UV fluorescent vacuum exposure table. Press is manual 8-color workhorse, a standard manual flash unit and small electric dryer.

Screen 1: Underbase White - 230 Mesh, 55 LPI - 22.5 angle , PS RIP Round Dots at 1440 dpi- Combination of Red and Grey screen with Highlight white - Red and Grey halftones choked back and white re-applied. It is a custom-developed halftone interlocking technique - especially choking base under the colors that need to fade to black. Spot-variation (dot-gain/loss) response curve applied before halftoning, chokes applied after, hl white re-applied to ensure not choking the white that shows normal without a color on top, since not printing a highlight white in the run. Also, Dot-gain on the red and grey are considered for not using the hl white, as well as not using a black but using the shirt color, and for the printing. Underbase white has some softhand reducer mixed in accordingly, with 1 hit it is not very bright but good hand, Underbase was print-flash-print-flashed for getting the right brightness and highlight white areas to pop.

Screen 2: Medium Grey with some Metallic and tiny amount of teal blue mixed in, to complement with a slightly cooler and shimmered look going with the red having the other color prominence in the design, gives a bit more color complementing and contrast. 55 lpi, round PS dots, 1440 dpi, 22.5 angle, SAME HALFTONE as RED - If there were a black it would need to be INVERTED to mix with the grey and red, if there were a hl white it would be inverted as well, but with just red and grey over white base, all angles are the same so overlap occurs over shirt-color, with colors trapped and/or base choked etc... 196 mesh, printed after the base, and also printed flashed, printed, flashed.

Screen 3: Brite Red, 55 lpi, round halftone PS dot, 1440 dpi, 22.5 angle to match underbase and grey dots fading out, would interlock with a highlight white and black but those are not printing, only using fades over base and shirt-color to create those blends. I want it to fill in a little more over the shirt-color for the dark red parts but not too much for the tinted/faded white parts so it will be a trick on press during the run to keep it consistent and looking how i want it. But I'm glad it is a bit tougher to get too much dot-gain. 196 mesh also for the Red, Print-Flash-Printing, then pulling the shirt off and putting through the dryer. Using new sharp squeegees for all colors, and trying to do nice quick strokes with good off-contact, having to flash a bit longer to be sure with the size being large, the effective flash area can make it not curing as much on the outsides of the design. The hand is still nice and smooth not too thick, even with the print-flash-print and double-strokes usually - because the 230 base and 196 colors are not letting so much ink through so the manual printing can be more forgiving - also the dot-gain control I did, trying some pull and push but might stick to one or the other during the run after a few more test setups to get it going as best as I can if I'm happy with the results.

All said I am loving being able to take my art and separations to press and prove my own methods out and learn every day new things about how to deal with all these variables. I could easily set up a custom automation to specifically pull and compensate and halftone RIP this exact separation and it would work for anything with the same setup and colors... all shades of greyscale with all shades of red - done on black shirt with underbase, grey, red. I used my separation tools to work through it a bit more individually... can either extract from full auto-sep and ripped, merging the grey and red, or because I'm familiar with it all and how it works, I just pulled my grey, underbase and red, worked with the ramps and curves of them, ripped in layers and did some trapping/choking etc.. but all this using automated tools to assist those... would work on any image with red/grey/black/white fades like this. The real passion and fun in a creative way for me is in the art and printing (I will show after the run, I will swap out colors in the screens and show the creative way to work on press as well with the separations done mathematically correct it works great), the separation and setup is just a technical process that is also very fun and thrilling for me because of the ways I've automated and streamlined and figured out the process in a mathematical way that is not guess-work or arbitrary new creative decisions, it is like building from a blue-print every time and just following the right logic of what I want to do in translating the original to new colors/inks/halftone screens to go on press. It is fun because of taking the frustration out of it, but it is more technical and logical, creative problem solving with mathematical color-science-based tools. I can spend more quality time with value-added service to my customers on doing amazing artwork with no limits, while having a more streamlined and logical process to taking any design to color separation and halftone RIP and film-output to screens and printing the order. The time saved in only spending a few minutes on the separations and rip and being confident in setup that I dont have to fuss with re-doing screens or such, it translates to more of the real value in art and image on the front end and increased quality-control and consistency on the production end.
Thanks for letting me share my first manual halftone multi-color art-separation-screenprint I did all the way through myself.

After 10 years in the industry stuck in the art departments.. I have been missing out on all the fun printing it too! It is great as an artist also to know in confidence all the way through what I can do in creating the graphics for our clients. Originally he was just going to have a straight version of the logo with simple text, just spot-colors white and red, a 2-color job, sure it would have been easier for me to set up and print perhaps, but he came in and wanted to make something really cool like the shirts you see out there now a days, and that is my specialty with high-end design and color-separation, but now all translated in a small shop being the one who can take the films to screens and control the printing as well.. it all comes together like never before. I'm happy to devote more time to the art and customer service, and less frustration with color-separations or technical aspects to quality-control in the screen printing process.

I will take some better photos and close-up scans after printing the full run of shirts, discuss in more detail some of the techniques and show the halftone results on the shirt in greater magnification. These are just camera-phone shot as it was coming out of the dryer and then I perspective-cropped that in photoshop.
 

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Nice prints Jeff. Glad to see you doing some printing. As a 1 man shop doing the artwork, separations, printing and customer relations over the years I've seen other separators giving advice, on printing or even separations and me thinking to myself what are these guys thinking. Unless its the camera the only suggestion/ thing I would have done differently was use a darker gray. Still a very fine print though.
 
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The process from there on out is a scientific procedure carried out with technical tools and eventually physical devices and chemicals and materials etc, all with their own very scientific values and characteristics. But the decisions made in working with all that through both experience and scientific-method-style analysis or trial-and-error as well.
What I should've said was...

Hey Jeff! hang up the lab coat, put on the tie dye shirt, turn up some Grateful Dead and let's fire up a fatty and toss back a few brews! :D

Actually I nominate this for the best post of the year. I read it through and I feel the passion and excitement it embodies. It's like bridging the chasm between the theoretical and the practical and all the pieces coming together. It's like the art of science and the science of art, sort of Yin and Yang. It's like evolution's "missing link" or a unifying theory type thing. Above all, it definitely illustrates that the whole process isn't a crap shoot, shot-in-the-dark venture.

The fun is just starting and it only gets better.

Freakin' love you man! ;)
 

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Nice prints Jeff. Glad to see you doing some printing. As a 1 man shop doing the artwork, separations, printing and customer relations over the years I've seen other separators giving advice, on printing or even separations and me thinking to myself what are these guys thinking. Unless its the camera the only suggestion/ thing I would have done differently was use a darker gray. Still a very fine print though.
BTW you notice I said customer relations, no sales department. Thats my customers job and with prints like that the shop will start getting busy. I just dropped off 2 test prints of 2 spot colors. The people were blown away. They are a wrecker/ garage and asked for business cards to put in their lobby. she said heck bring a banner if you want!!!!!!

i just cant belive how bad alot of shops around me are messing up spot color jobs or on simulated stuff are saying that cant be done screen printing and trying to sell DTG. Either they dont know how or lazy but the last guy brought me a DTG shirt it was terrible Iam posting my print of what i did Hope that ok with you Jeff. I will try toget a pic of the DTG one.
 

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BTW you notice I said customer relations, no sales department. Thats my customers job...
Best and most effective and their only commission is the product, service and satisfaction ;)

i just cant belive how bad alot of shops around me are messing up spot color jobs or on simulated stuff are saying that cant be done screen printing and trying to sell DTG. Those lease payments are due
Why are you keeping me from the printing I have to do???:mad:

Had a lady come to me a couple years ago. Had some DTG and vinyl done somewhere else. Sport Grey shirts with no underbase White. Colors were horribly muted. The ones done in vinyl were peeling.
"Fast Signs" guy did them. Over $300 job. I explained the problem to her. I redid the layout 2-color print. Boo-yah!

What really ticked me off though is that she didn't go back to the guy to at least express her displeasure. But oh, well.
 

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Nice Print! My favourite part is the detail in the piston rod. Aren't dots fun!!

Takes more work, but the pay off when it hits...

I gotta tell you, you really are something special now,
an artist that knows the whole process from client idea to
finished shirt.

I was working in a shop where the art people had zero clue about
screenprinting and it's requirements and limitations.

Hope to see more of your work in future postings.

Cheers
 
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