Printing white ink onto dark garments.


Yesterday I screen printed some t-shirts for Greg from ALLEYKATS a fellow Two's Company Studios buddy. I don't really print t-shirts or textiles any more as I made the conscious decision to dedicate my time to printing onto paper a couple of years back. However I do like a change from time to time, and so we headed up to Hamilton house in stokes croft to use the t-shirt carousel which is available to rent here.

Printing white ink onto dark garments used to drive me up the wall. It's all everyone wanted to do, and it was extremely difficult to achieve a good opacity without using horrible plastisol inks. However a few years back I went up to my supplier of all things screen printing related, Dave Roper to see some new water-based inks being demonstrated by a company from Italy called Virus Inks. Amongst all sorts of crazy special effects inks, they supply a high opacity white called 'hydra first down white'. This can be used as a white base, or flash base as it's known, so you can over print vibrant colours onto dark garments, or on it's own as a white ink onto dark.

I hadn't used this ink for ages until yesterday, and doing so inspired me to write a blog post outlining how good this ink really is. You can print it with minimal effort, it's nothing like trying to force plastisol ink through a screen. It's water-based and so you just clean down using water. The opacity is as good as you will ever see from any product, regardless of what it's made from. You can use your old plastisol 43T mesh screens if you don't print with too much pressure, however I've found a 54T mesh is a little bit more forgiving when it comes to prints mushrooming. Make sure you flood covering the stencil without forcing the ink into the mesh, this will keep the screen open for longer, and have lots of ink to play with on your screen it stops it drying out. You should also add some retarder and reducer to the ink as it will help slow down the drying and it'll flow a lot smoother. The entire Virus Inks range is available from the main man Dave Roper.

Leeds Print Festival 2016 - Lee Goater

Artwork - Lee Goater

Leeds Print Festival 2016.

Although it's coming up to a year since myself and Lee worked on the lollipop print, I thought it's still worth talking about in further detail with some shots of the process along the way.

Despite it's initial simplicity this print was a tricky one to begin with. It was difficult to imagine the outcome of the over printing, well until you've done it really, and that's not always an option. So with no time for experimentation we just had to rely on Photoshop and Illustrator previews along with our previous experience. 

The first decision was to print the background colour with full bleed onto white stock instead of sourcing a coloured stock. This was mainly due to the use of a halftone in the highlight of the lolly which could be achieved at the same time as printing the background. Two birds one stone. You then also have the added benefit of mixing your own colour, and also the density of the colour in comparison to coloured stock off the shelf. 


The next step is to mix the yellow ink for the lolly. The key things to consider at this stage are that it needs to be bright enough so when printed over the grey it doesn't look dirty. Secondly, that we will use the same ink for the next three layers, and so the intention is to mix the middle opacity colour (main body of the lolly)  so when over printed on top of another layer, or when it's over printed itself, it looks balanced.


One downside to printing the background colour and over printing onto dark, is that there's no option to use trapping on this particular print. Trapping helps to hide any movement in registration between each layer, and also any movement that may occur when putting down large blocks of colour. This was my main concern with this print.

With the second layer of yellow and the main body of the lolly down, we can now see the opacity of the ink in comparison to the white lolly stick, the grey background, and also the first band of yellow running round the back of the lolly.

The final yellow layer and I did actually increase the opacity of the ink ever so slightly as it didn't quite look right. This is more often the case that things need to be tweaked along the way, as it's really tricky to get all the opacity's right first time. But I was pretty chuffed with how this print came out. 

Thanks to Lee for his vision, pushing my print boundaries, and always getting me involved. Always a pleasure.

Big Disco Scratch card Screen Print

On 1st July 2016, Duke Studios in Leeds held an event called 'Big Disco', where they bought the world's largest disco ball to the city and thousands of people gathered underneath it to dance the night away. 

To mark the event I decided to make a print using a rub remove ink, more commonly known as scratch card ink. I'd had some holographic mirror rainbow stock knocking about the studio for a couple of months, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to utilise its multi-coloured, reflective mirror like properties to represent the disco themed event.

After experimenting with a few tests, it soon became apparent that if you were to scratch the rub remove ink off using a coin, you would also take off the black ink with it. The only option was to either use a solvent based black ink, or try and put some kind of varnish over the black layer to protect it from being scratched away. As there was very little time to let the varnish dry, I decided to get the prints laminated at the print finishes a few doors up, which actually gave me a perfect surface to print the rub remove ink on to. 

Despite this actually being unintentional, I was really pleased with the contrast between the matt and gloss finishes of this print. I also really like the interactive aspect, allowing people to create their own version of the print by scratching off some, every other, or maybe all of the panels of the disco ball. 

Limited edition of 20 prints. Head over to my shop if you'd like to buy one!