How to make a screenprint

How-to-make-a-screenprint poster

Here’s a print-off-and-hang poster about how to make a screenprint.

It shows all the various stages of the process, from the original image to the finished handmade screenprint.

1 Pick your image,in this case the P from Little Plum, The Beano Summer Special 1971. I have a licence from DC Thomson to use such images, whether they are of Dennis the Menace, The Bash Street Kids, Minnie the Minx, Desperate Dan, Lord Snooty, Oor Wullie or The Broons. Likewise I have a licence from French publisher Editions Albert Rene to make sceenprints of Asterix and his mates Obelix, Getafix and Dogmatix. And my stable also includes Popeye and Olive Oyl.
2 Make colour separations to use as templates
3 Mask up for the chemical processes to follow
4 Clean your nylon mesh, or screen
5 Coat it with light-sensitive emulsion
6 Expose your colour separations on a ultra violet light box to harden the parts of the stencil you will not be using
7 Wash off the unexposed emulsion, leaving you with a right-reading stencil
8 Attach the screen to your printing bed and apply ink with a rubber blade, or squeegee, having calculated where it must go for the rest of the colours to fit
9 Dry the first colour on a drying rack
10 Repeat for the remaining colours, in this case red and black, being careful to align the colours properly so they all match up

Why go to all this bother? Screenprinting is very good at making bright vivid colours and bold outlines. This is exactly what you need for a non-literal subject such as comics. (Screenprinting is not so good at photo-graphic likeness – it’s impossible to portray the subtle changes of skin tone, for instance.)
And you have an image which has been made by hand rather than a computer or an ink-jet printer or photocopier – although they form part of an edition, each one is slightly different, which makes them human. I love the ink smudges on the back of the paper – it’s proof the thing was made by human hand. It’s real in a way that an inkjet print is not.

JPR May 2016