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Using Halftones to Lower the Cost of Screen Printed Apparel

The primary factors for the screen printing pricing is (a) number of sides printed, (b) quantity printed (this is huge) and (c) number of colors. So, you can lower your cost by printing less sides (only the front instead of front and back, for example), increasing the quantity ordered, or lowering the number of colors of ink printed.

This post focuses on lowering your cost by using halftones to reduce the number of colors printed while maintaining the look of your artwork/design. Halftones are essentially tiny dots which are used to create gradients of colors. Black and white pictures in newspapers, appear to be greyscale through the use of halftones.

example of printed halftone

Image from

So, the exciting thing you can do using halftones is screen print different intensities of color using one color of ink (and therefore only paying for one color of ink!). That’s not entirely clear, I think some pictures will help show what I mean. Here’s a recent job I did for the Chinese Progressive Association’s Bike-A-Thon.

CPA screen printed t-shirt halftone close up

In the photo above you can see what looks like two shades of green. This gives an extra dimension to the artwork without adding any cost!

Here’s the full t-shirt:

CPA screen printed t-shirt halftones

The really exciting thing is that if you use halftones with two different colors of ink you can get a really colorful image using only two colors of ink. Check out this example below from DKNG Studios:

example of colored screen printed halftones from

Image from (a great read, by the way!).


What great use of color and halftones! The only hard part about using halftones is that you need to have a decent-to-great working knowledge of graphic design software like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. We’d be happy to look at your art and determine if halftones could be used – shoot us an email if you’d like to look into it!

There’s one more small but really positive thing about using halftones on your screen printed t-shirts. You are purposefully laying down less ink which keeps the shirt extremely soft and visible. Check out this close-up of the halftoned area to see just how little ink is actually on the shirt:

CPA screen printed t-shirt halftone zoom

If you’re interested in using halftones, or any other method, to save money on your screen printed apparel, let us know! We’ll help you figure out what’s best for your specific project.