Screen printing is an age-old technique that has been used for centuries to create beautiful and intricate designs on fabric. It involves transferring ink onto a material through a mesh screen, creating a unique and long-lasting print. While it may seem like a simple process, mastering the art of screen printing takes time, practice, and patience. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, there are always tips and tricks to learn to perfect your prints. From choosing the right materials and equipment to mastering the technique of registration, there are a multitude of factors that can affect the quality of your print. In this article, we will explore the art of screen printing and provide you with valuable insights and techniques that will help you create perfect prints time and time again. Whether you're printing t-shirts, posters, or any other material, these tips and tricks will elevate your screen printing game and impress your clients with your skills.

Screen printing tools and materials

Before you start screen printing, it's essential to have the right tools and materials. Here are some of the essential items you'll need to get started:

  • Screen

The screen is the heart of the screen printing process. It's a mesh fabric stretched over a frame that's coated with a light-sensitive emulsion. When the emulsion is exposed to light, it hardens and creates a stencil that allows ink to pass through only in specific areas.

  • Squeegee

The squeegee is used to push the ink through the stencil and onto the material. It's a long, flat tool with a rubber blade that's used to apply even pressure to the screen.

  • Ink

There are many types of ink available for screen printing, including water-based, solvent-based, and plastisol ink. Each type has its pros and cons, so it's important to choose the right ink for your project.

  • Substrate

The substrate is the material you're printing on, which can include t-shirts, posters, paper, or any other material that can absorb ink.

Steps for creating a screen print

Printing screens process

Creating a screen print involves several steps, including preparing the screen, exposing the emulsion, and printing the design onto the substrate. Here's a step-by-step guide to creating a screen print:

Step 1: Prepare the screen

Start by cleaning the screen to remove any dust or debris. Then, apply the emulsion to the screen, making sure to coat both sides evenly. Once the emulsion is applied, leave the screen to dry in a dark room.

Step 2: Expose the emulsion

Once the emulsion is dry, it's time to expose it to light. Place your design on a transparency and place it on top of the screen. Use a light table or exposure unit to expose the screen to light for the appropriate amount of time.

Step 3: Wash out the screen

After exposing the emulsion, wash out the screen with water to reveal the stencil. Be careful not to wash out any areas that should be blocked by the stencil.

Step 4: Set up the print

Place your substrate on the print board and align the screen over the substrate. Then, apply ink to the top of the screen and use the squeegee to pull the ink down across the stencil and onto the substrate.

Step 5: Cure the print

Once you've printed your design, it's time to cure the ink. The curing process will depend on the type of ink you're using, but it usually involves heat and time. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for curing your ink to ensure a long-lasting print.

Choosing the right ink for your screen print

Choosing the right ink is crucial for achieving a perfect screen print. Here are some factors to consider when choosing your ink:

Type of material

The type of material you're printing on will affect the type of ink you use. For example, water-based ink is best suited for printing on cotton, while plastisol ink is better for printing on synthetic materials.


Color of ink and substrate will determine what kind of screen and mesh you will need. For example, white ink is thicker and requires a higher mesh count than other colors.


The finish of your print will also affect the type of ink you use. For example, if you want a glossy finish, you'll need to use a glossy ink.

Tips for achieving perfect registration

Registration is the process of aligning your screen with your substrate to ensure a perfect print. Here are some tips for achieving perfect registration:

Use registration marks

Registration marks are small dots or lines that you apply to both your screen and substrate to help you align them.

Use a registration jig

A registration jig is a tool that helps you align your screen and substrate. It's especially helpful for multi-color prints.

Take your time

Achieving perfect registration takes time and patience, so don't rush the process. Take your time to ensure everything is aligned correctly before printing.

Troubleshooting common screen printing issues

Screen printing can be a finicky process, and even the most experienced printers run into issues from time to time. Here are some common issues and how to troubleshoot them:

Ink bleeding

If your ink is bleeding or spreading out too much, try using a bleed resistant ink or a higher mesh count screen. Also use right amount of ink and hold the squeegee at a 45 degree angle and pull only once, as every pull will add more ink to the substrate.

Stencil breaking down

If your stencil is breaking down during printing, it may be due to underexposure or overexposure. Try adjusting the exposure time and test again.

Uneven ink coverage

If your ink coverage is uneven, it may be due to uneven pressure or an uneven surface. Make sure your substrate is flat and use even pressure when printing.

Screen printing on different materials

Screen printing isn't just for t-shirts and posters. With the right ink and technique, you can print on nearly any material. Here are some tips for printing on different materials:


When printing on paper, use a low mesh count screen and a water-based ink for the best results. Make sure to use a paper that's thick enough to absorb the ink without bleeding.


If you want to print on metal, use a solvent-based ink and a high mesh count screen. Make sure to clean the metal surface thoroughly before printing.


When printing on plastic, use a plastisol ink and a low mesh count screen. Make sure to use a plastic that's compatible with the ink you're using.


Plastisol and water based inks are commonly used to print on textile. The main difference is that water based inks will dye the substrate and plastisol ink will create extra layer on top of the substrate.

Screen printing techniques for multi-color prints

Multi-color prints require a bit more finesse than single-color prints, but the results can be stunning. Here are some techniques for printing multi-color designs:

Use a registration jig

A registration jig is essential for multi-color prints. It helps you align your screens and substrates accurately, ensuring a perfect print every time.

Print in layers

When printing multi-color designs, print each color layer separately. Start with the lightest color and work your way up to the darkest.

Use a wet-on-wet technique

The wet-on-wet technique involves printing one color on top of another while the ink is still wet. This technique creates a blended effect between the two colors.

Curing and finishing your screen print

Once your print is finished, it's essential to cure and finish it properly to ensure a long-lasting print. Here are some tips for curing and finishing your screen print:

Heat Source

Use a heat press, curing machine, or heat lamp to cure your print. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for time and temperature.

Wash and dry

Wash your print in cold water and dry it on low heat. Avoid using fabric softeners or bleach.


If you want to give your print a little extra shine, iron it on low heat using a pressing cloth.

Screen printing resources and communities

Screen printing is a vast and ever-evolving industry, and there are many resources and communities available to help you improve your skills and stay up-to-date on the latest techniques and trends. Here are some of the best resources for screen printers:

Screen Printing Forum

The Screen Printing Forum is an online community of screen printers from all over the world. It's a great place to ask questions, share tips and tricks, and connect with other printers.

Screen Printing Magazine

Screen Printing Magazine is a print and online publication that covers all aspects of screen printing, from the basics to advanced techniques.

Screen Printing Supplies

There are many screen printing suppliers that offer everything from screens and inks to squeegees and registration jigs. We in Victory Screen Factory offer screens, supplies and knowledge to start and succeed in screen printing.


Screen printing is a beautiful and rewarding art that offers endless possibilities for creating custom designs on a variety of materials. With the right tools and techniques, you can create stunning prints that are both vibrant and long-lasting. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, these tips and tricks will help you perfect your screen printing skills and impress your clients with your work. So, go ahead and experiment with different materials, inks, and techniques, and discover the endless possibilities of screen printing.