Learning to Screen Print

Screen printing has always been something I’ve wanted to have a go at especially after outsourcing the Full Metal Jacket prints. Merch UK gave me a chance to hand pull some t-shirt prints when I won a competition with them years ago so when I saw a whole course dedicated to learning the screen print process I had to go along.

The course is run by Rob and Tom of Present Workshops located in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. I never knew they were there and it’s thanks to The Guardian’s series on Stoke-on-Trent that I found them – nice one. The course was done over three evenings and the guys definitely know their stuff! The first evening was the theory behind the process. Yep, you want to get printing but everything has this stage.

Here’s the design I chose to do… It was drawn using Adobe Draw on the iPad whilst I got a rare moment to myself when recovering from an operation. It’s a bit of an “I wish” piece, I can’t think of much better than to ride through the Mojave on a nice raked Swedish chopper. Anyway…



On the second evening, you expose your design onto the screens and do some test prints. They advised I could do my gradient design by using a single screen and blending two colours together rather than halftoning it, so I gave that a go! I did a Magenta to Yellow test initially. It takes a while for the fade to form but when it does, it’s so good.





On the third evening, it’s none stop printing and it’s not all smooth sailing. The ink can dry up on the screen meaning the print doesn’t come out right, the many variables can alter the outcome (like squeegees, how thick the ink is, how wet the screen is after clearing the dry ink) or how you have to work (like how much pressure for the specific squeegee, eesh). Man, it is not easy! I can’t imagine having to pull 100x 3 colour prints…

For the final prints, I chose to change the colours to reflect the red rocks in the Mojave better. The gradient is toned down because of this. It’s not quite spot on to the original design but I think it’d need to do a lot of colour matching with inks to get this.


It was a really cool experience, I loved learning something new. Hopefully, I’ll be back to do a new set of prints which I’ve only been promising forever… If you’ve got a course going on near you, go and check it out!

I’ve had a little interest in the prints when I’ve shown them in some circles so in case there’s a chance you’re interested in my first set of prints they’re in the shop and you can name your price as long as it’s over £6. I am of course a novice, my prints are in no way perfect and they are all individual, even more so with the gradient. So I’ve placed up pictures of each one so you can see them all.



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