Sketch to screen print tutorial: Part I



Since there are now quite a few things in the works, I’d like to take the time to show you all just how we take the artist’s drawing and make it into a design on fabric. This won’t be a terribly in-depth tutorial since I simply want to overview our process, but if you have more specific questions please ask! I’ll also break this tutorial into two parts since one part is very computer-heavy and one part is very hands-on. There is much experimentation and failed attempts going into this process, so be sure that this is the best I’ve got so far! (with much room for improvement, I’m sure)

1. We start with a scan or a photograph of the design- I usually just take a cellphone picture and import it to my computer through iCloud. Then I open it up in Adobe Photoshop (I have a really fancy 6-year-old CS3 version). At this point, the image size doesn’t matter since we’ll be turning it into a vector image later on. This sketchbook page was done by Elizabeth on November 4, 2014! These flowers are kind of her signature design, so it made a lot of sense to turn it into an overall pattern for weavery bags, pouches, wallets, etc.

Screenshot 2015-01-12 11.31.50

2. Then the image is converted to greyscale or black and white and the contrast is bumped completely up to get the darkest tones out of the flowers.
Screenshot 2015-01-12 11.32.04


3. The next step is to get rid of everything except the desired image. I don’t usually worry about extra stuff within or surrounding the image since this can be cleaned up later on. This flower is a bit on the light side, but the contrast from grey to white should be enough to bring out the desired result. I then save the image as a “.PNG” so that the background is transparent instead of white.

Screenshot 2015-01-12 11.32.31

4. I then open up the “.PNG” in Adobe Illustrator, in a document 8.5″x14″ (legal size). The screen printing frames the woodshop made for us are approximately 11″x17″, so with the required duct-tape border (I’ll show you that later), 8.5×14″ for the design works well.

This part is a bit tricky. I “live trace” the image, which is an Adobe Illustrator option on the top toolbar. This tool decides which areas of the drawing are most important, and creates a completely black drawing in points and lines. The downfall to this function is that it is approximating what the darkest areas of the image are and make those parts the vector drawing, but I almost always have to do adjustments to clean up the image and bring out the parts that stay true to the original drawing as best I can. SO here is the completed vector drawing, which means we can re-size it as much as possible without losing quality!

Screenshot 2015-01-12 11.33.01

5. Lastly, the image is repeated across the 8.5×14″ space by copy-pasting in whatever way visually appeals to you. Two white spaces are left open on the  top and left edges because we may use a stamp of a single flower in this same design to fill in those spaces with a second printing color. I now save this image as a “.PDF” file and print on legal-size paper.
Screenshot 2015-01-12 11.33.30


Check back for Part II of this tutorial later in the week!