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Basics of Making a Screen Print – Fully Exposed!

Today you get to learn exactly how a screen print is made. It’s a series of steps. None of them are particularly challenging, the key is just to get each one right (and don’t forget any!). Come along for the ride. I’m going to demystify the process for you – this’ll be fun. Here we go.

The first step in the process is to get your artwork. In this example a hand-drawn piece of paper was sent to me on school letterhead. You can skip to step 2 if your artwork is made digitally.


You can see how I removed the school letterhead and isolated the "SHARKS" text on the computer. Once your image is finalized, the artwork is converted to a pure black with a white background.


Simply print your digital artwork onto a transparent piece of paper.


Using an exposure unit (not pictured), the printed transparency was used to transfer the image from the computer screen to the screen printing screen. We're ready to put the screen on a press, add ink, and get printing. Note that the ink cannot pass through the teal part of the screen.

(The great photo above comes from the talented Lara Kimmerer)

We use tape to seal off the edges (and other open areas of the screen). This prevents trace amounts of ink from bleeding through the screen. You can see that there is a maroon t-shirt flat on the press and I'm holding the screen above. Once I let go, the screen will lie directly over the flat t-shirt. At that point the squeegee is pushed down.


Once the squeegee is pressed against the t-shirt, ink is transferred from the screen to the t-shirt. It's basically a finished product at this point. But don't forget to run the tee through a dryer (not pictured)! Otherwise, the ink will be wet and not properly adhered to the t-shirt fabric. (Congrats perceptive readers on noticing that the ink color magically changed from white to navy!)


The last step? Make more tees. Pass them out to friends, family, and colleagues. Whether for a sports team, reunion, or non-profit organization, tees are meant to support your community and show your team spirit!