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Screen printing hand drawn Images 👌


It’s taken me a while to figure that it is crucial you use the correct ink when painting or drawing a positive image for making a screen with photo emulsion.

Ok limited edition screenprint - made from ink free drawn on acetate, then  exposed onto a screen coated in photo sensitive emulsion. SOLD OUT edition. 

As a self taught screen printer I have probably gone the long way around to work out these things - but now I hope to share my findings with anyone looking for the answers so they can waste less time and money, faffing about with the wrong stuff.

Quite by accident I made my early images drawing with Windsor and Newton Indian ink onto acetate - like the OK you see here - it retains exactly the marks first drawn. In fact this is what sparked my interest in Screenprinting - as an illustrator and lover of fluid mark making - i was delighted I could capture this fresh line and then print with it so easily.

However not all inks perform in this way - which i found out to my peril as I then thought I could use any old black ink I had hanging around, to find I couldn’t get the ink to paint on acetate or any surface in the same way at all, it would run off, not dry solid or make the acetate react with a white haze.

So I bought a whole bundle of different black inks and pens and set about working out which were good and which were a no-no! 

Any ink that is watered down, will not provide a solid block of black and will wrinkle tracing paper too much, or create a weird reaction on acetate, too much to give a clean/sharp image. Chinese style ink for brush work looks good on paper, but doesn’t create a black enough image needed to block the light for exposure. Also Sharpies do not create a solid enough image. The three main things I found worked were

1. Windsor and Newton Black Indian Ink - the one with the Spider on the box. Do not add water, it needs to be as it is, a bit thick and then it will stick on the surface without curling up the tracing paper or running off the acetate.

2. Posca Pens, black - come in all sizes and various nibs so you can have a range of marks to play with. These are amazing as they give a properly solid mark, and they dry quickly, which has been crucial for running workshops. Really easy to use.

3. Chinagraph pencils for a more broken sketchy line. These give a sketchy look. Im still working out if there is a difference in the brands. 

Other products of note - Daler Rowney Black Acrylic Ink works like Indian ink - Frisk Black Drawing Ink also worked well. 

All of these work on tracing paper, which was just a basic pack from Hobbycraft. Now I’ve found the right products to draw on tracing paper i wont go back to drawing/painting on acetate. I’ll save that for printing out images from the computer when an image requires that. 

There is more information on handmade positives in the great book on Screenprinting by Print Club London Screenprinting Studio Guide. It is excellent in taking you through all the different methods, with case studies and vital set up tips. We have found this book to be very useful as we have gone on our self taught journey, and we go back to it time and time again. We sell lots of copies in our shop! 

OK card, scanned the original into the computer then scaled to fit the card and brand details added - acetate then printed out with this image and exposed onto a screen prepped with photo emulsion.

👌🏻More HOW TO creative process blog posts coming up from Salty’s Studio 👌🏻

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