How to Make a Screen Print from Your Procreate Art

by Guest Author July 22, 2020 2 Comments

How to Screen Print Using ColorLab

There's nothing more fulfilling than printing your work. In this tutorial, we'll show you how to create a screen print of your Procreate work using ColorLab for Procreate.

I’ll also give a brief overview of the screen printing process with some tips on how to get the best results including prepping your Procreate artwork for print, color separation, setting your supplies up to print and more. 

Don't want to do the actual screen printing? Just follow the tutorial to the point where the files are prepped and your screen printer can take care of the rest. 

NOTE: These steps can also be applied to ColorLab for Photoshop, Illustrator, and Affinity, we are just using the Procreate version for this demonstration.

Tools Needed

  • iPad Pro
  • Apple Pencil
  • Procreate
  • ColorLab for Procreate by RetroSupply
  • Hinge Clamps
  • Screen Printing Squeegees
  • Matsui Water Based Process Inks in Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black
  • Matsui Transparents Base
  • Packing Tape
  • Off White Card Stock Paper (100 weight or more)

Draw and Color

When you open one of the ColorLab paper texture files, it will have some pre-made layers to create your art so that it has an authentic vintage feel.

Draw your line work on its own separate layer underneath the “Adjust Ink Effects” and “Adjust Texture” layers. Save the layers labeled “Yellow”, “Red” and “Blue” for later.

I imported a picture of my sketch and inked in a separate layer above it, using the Ramen Brush.

Once you have your line art, color with the ColorLab brushes according to the Color Chart included with the pack. Make sure to only use colors from the ColorLab palette with their corresponding brushes, in their designated layer.

For example: the color magenta from the palette, using the Red 2 brush, placed in the “Red” layer will overlap yellow, drawn with the Yellow 2 brush, in the “Yellow” layer. That will give us the light peach color on the faces in the bottom.

Blue 3, drawn in the “Blue” layer, overlapping pure yellow, drawn in the “Yellow” layer creates the green of the zombie’s skin.

I can’t stress this enough: use the right color with the right brush on the right layer or none of this will work.

I had my halftone brushes scaled to 75% to do this piece. To change the scale of your brush, click the brush twice. This will open up a menu called “Brush Studio”. In this menu, go to Grain on the left hand set of options. Now go to the slider labeled “Scale” and slide it to be at 75%.

Note: YOU HAVE TO DO THIS TO ALL YOUR HALFTONE BRUSHES IF YOU DO IT TO ONE OF THEM.

I’m not going to grunge up any of the layers or make them offset (besides my Brain Freeze text) because they are going to get naturally grungy and offset in the printing process.

Registration Marks

I would recommend exiting your artwork here, going to the Procreate home screen, and duplicating your art. What you’re about to do will mess up the pretty art you made and you probably want to save a copy of the digital version of your poster.

Go to the duplicated art and do the rest of these steps there so that you have a version of your art preserved as you had intended it to look.

On your line work layer, draw registration marks in each of the 4 corners. Registration marks are a cross or an X inside of a circle. Make them small and give plenty of space between them and your image.

Now replicate them exactly on each of your color layers beneath. I did this by clicking my line work layer twice and choosing Select from the option list it brought up. This selects all of the pixels on that layer. Once selected, I went to my Yellow layer and colored in the registration mark areas that were selected.

Go through each layer and do this so that they all have registration marks that line up exactly with each other.

Create Your Positives

Go to your layers and hide the ones labeled “Adjust Ink Effects”, “Adjust Texture” and your paper texture at the bottom. Now you just have your art on a pure white background.

Next, go to the Yellow layer. Select this layer and then go to the magic wand in the upper left of your screen. This will bring up the Adjustments panel. From here, click “Hue, Saturation, Brightness”.

3 sliders will pop up in the bottom of your screen. Go to the Brightness and slide it all the way down to None. This will turn all of your yellow to black.

Go through each color layer and do this so all of your colors are now black.

Now isolate each layer and export it as a jpeg. Do this by hiding every layer but your linework and then exporting it. Then hide that and only show the yellow layer. Now export that one. Do this until you have exported all 4 of your image layers.

From here, you can either send your files to a screen printer to print it for you or you can do it yourself. Below, I will give an overview of how to do it yourself.

If you are completely new to this, I would recommend watching youtube videos on how to screen print and talking to printmakers to troubleshoot. While this is absolutely something you can learn and do in your home, it takes studying, practice and a lot of trial and error to master.

Get Your Screens

Send your image files to your local screen printing supply store and have them burn screens for you. Make sure to have them use a mesh count over 200 to preserve your details best. I used a 230 mesh count screen for mine.

If you don’t have squeegees and hinge clamps, pick those up while you’re at the screen printing supply store.

Prepare Your Screens and Inks

Tape off the edges on the inside of the screen where there is no emulsion. This will prevent ink coming out of the edges. On the other side of the screen, tape over your registration marks.

Secure your screen with the Cyan or Blue layer into the hinge clamps that are fastened to the table you are using for printing.

I have my hinge clamps fastened to a homemade vacuum table. This table is a box with a series of holes drilled in that I can attach a vacuum hose to.

When the vacuum is turned on, it will suck the paper flat against the table. This will prevent my paper from moving while I print so that I can reduce error.

A vacuum table isn’t completely necessary for printing. I almost never use one. But, I’ve noticed it can make the printing of halftones much more accurate so I am using one this time.

Once fastened, create a spacer at the end of the screen closest to you, so it does not rest on the table. I did this by taping a small stack of paper tabs under both of the metal corners of the screen. You can also do this with coins or basically anything about 3 pennies thick. This will make it so that the screen only touches our paper when we are doing a pass of ink.

I added a bunch of transparent base to my inks this time and got much more accurate results. I mixed my colors ⅓ transparent base and ⅔ ink, adding a very small amount of water to thin it out.

Register Your Paper

Tape a copy of your line work layer to one of the same pieces of paper you will be printing on, so that it is centered. This will be our Key.

Slide your paper underneath the screen. Adjust your page so that all of your registration marks line up.

Now tape down paper tabs to mark the bottom right corners of your page. These will be used to make sure that every page we print gets printed in the same spot.

This is extremely important. If you do not register each layer carefully, your layers will not line up correctly and all of your prints will be offset.

Note: Select a paper that is off white and as close to the color of your digital mock up if you want to maintain that vintage look. Use a cover paper that is 100 weight or more so your paper doesn’t buckle from the wetness of the inks.

Print

Remove your key from the registration tabs and replace it with a fresh sheet of paper. Pour a small amount of cyan ink on the top of your screen, away from the image.

Using your squeegee, make a pass of ink across the image burnt into your screen. Press firmly, with your squeegee angled slightly towards you. Maintain the same pressure and speed throughout your pass.

Rest the squeegee in the back portion of your screen and carefully retrieve the paper you have printed. Place that page flat on a drying rack or other surface. Continue through, printing the rest of the pages you have set aside with your cyan layer.

Once dry, gather all of your printed pages and stack them next to your table to be printed with your next color. Repeat the steps from registration to printing for your Magenta layers.

Repeat the steps from registration to printing for your Yellow layer.

Repeat the steps from registration to printing for your Black layer.

Do this in order from Cyan to Magenta, to Yellow, to Black every time.

Voila! You’ve successfully screen printed a retro comics looking poster using ColorLab from RetroSupply!


About Robin Banks

Robin Banks is a self-taught artist and illustrator living in Salt Lake City, UT. Their work can be found on Instagram @ramenbanks or on their web store robinbanks.bigcartel.com

Love the Zombie Brain Freeze we made? Buy your poster here before they're gone!






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2 Responses

Tom Little
Tom Little

July 24, 2020

Great tutorial. Nice to see Matsui ink call outs.I am a shirt guy and use them fo most of my printing.

Drew Pocza
Drew Pocza

July 23, 2020

Oh nice! Excellent illustration and process. I was curious about screen printing this stuff, but on shirts.

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