4 Color Process Screen Printing
One of the ways to get an amazing result on your custom garment print is to use the process of 4 Color Process Screen Printing. There is often confusion surrounding this technique and how and when it can be used, what it’s strengths and limitations are. I’m going to review the method in this article and talk about what considerations are important when using 4 Color Process Screen Printing for your T-Shirts or other garments.
4 Color Process Screen Printing
Most of the time that this technique is used is on a white garment. The reason for this is because 4 Color Process Screen Printing relies on opaque or semi-translucent inks. That means that you can see thru them. Remember in school when you learned that blending blue and Red gives you purple? Well that’s what happens on your T-Shirt too. But have you ever tried blending blue and red on black paper? It’s still purple, but very dark purple. When you are printing 4 Color Process Screen Printing on a dark garment, since the inks are translucent you will see the garment as part of the result. This doesn’t mean that you can only use this technique on white shirts, it just means that it’s easier to use a white shirt vs. a colored shirt when printing 4 Color Process Screen Printing.
If you decide that you want to use a dark shirt, you can, but your screen printer will have to lay down a layer of white first. This is often called a flash or an underbase. Typically, your screen printer will view an underbase as another color and charge you accordingly. It’s fair, but something to consider as it is extra work. So when designing your artwork, you will want to consider the underbase in your pricing.
When you are designing your artwork for 4 Color Process Screen Printing you will want to ensure that you are using CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) in your design and no additional colors. With those 4 colors, your screen printer will be able to create virtually any color needed by laying the translucent inks on top of each other; metallics, neons, glow in the darks etc … can not be created using CMYK, but all other standard colors can be achieved.
If you are not designing your artwork using CMYK, your screen printer can separate the colors in to the four basic colors required for 4 Color Process Screen Printing, however, you may be charged for a “sep charge” or separation charge. When your screens are created, the total number of colors that you designed with, will be broken down into 4 screens and 4 colors. You can save yourself time and money by doing the separations yourself. Manually separating colors for a 4 Color Process Screen Printing job can be frustrating, you may want to consider plug-ins for your software that can do this automatically.
Considerations for 4 Color Process Screen Printing
With the process of 4 Color Process Screen Printing relies on spots or dots. Similar to how a television works, your design is going to have a bunch of tiny dots that make up the various colors. If you are use to seeing t-shirts with solid blocks of color, that will not be the same look that is achieved with 4 Color Process Screen Printing. This shouldn’t bother you, but it’s a note that when selling this job to your clients, you will want to impress on the the differences.
Rarely, if ever will your screen printer recommend just using 4 Color Process Screen Printing. It is likely that your order will be a 5 or 6 color job, because you will have instances where you will want solid colors that are not created with spots or dots. It is because of this, that you will likely want to have a conversation with your screen printer prior to quoting the job to your client. Experienced 4 Color Process Screen Printing printers will need to review the art and ask you questions as well as make recommendations for the best outcome. It is very important to talk to your screen printer in advance of making promises to your customers.
There is a technique called “Simulated 4 Color Process Screen Printing” that a few screen printers do, that in my opinion is a far better solution than 4 Color Process Screen Printing and produces amazing results. However, it often requires additional screens that can increase your cost.
Most screen printers will not want to take on a 4 Color Process Screen Printing job for less than 500 t-shirts. Some might be flexible and work with 100 t-shirts but it is unlikely that you will find a screen printer willing to do small runs of 12,24,36 etc … DTG printing has found a niche with these requests, but 4 Color Process Screen Printing is generally reserved for larger orders.
If you are interested in 4 Color Process Screen Printing, please consider giving us a call, we’re experts at it and we would be happy to talk you through the process. You can call us at (908) 806-8337 or email us.