There’s a lot of bad information online for creating halftones for T-shirts. I’ve seen video “tutorials” showing crazy methods that have nothing to do with screen-printing.
I’ve seen semi-decent videos that cover half of the topic correctly but swing and miss badly at the other half.
I’ve read blog posts written by people with absolutely no knowledge on the screen-printing process, showing how to make halftones. And you know what the best part of all this is?
You DO NOT need to create halftones in Photoshop in order to print a tee shirt!
Yep, it’s all bunk. The trend of people thinking you need to create halftones within Photoshop in order to print onto a tee is running wild at the moment.
I don’t mind so much because trends like this help keep people like me in business. But, the sheer amount of misguided tutorials out there is forcing me to write this. So, let’s put this to bed, shall we?
What Are Halftones?
To begin, let’s clarify some definitions.
On the left, we have a gradient. This is what a gradient always looks like on the monitor. This is what they look like when we begin a color separation. This is what they look like when we’ve finished the color separation. This is what they look like while in the computer, period.
On the right, the same gradient shown via halftone dots. Since we’re pushing ink through a screen covered in emulsion, we need halftone dots to trick your mind into thinking it’s looking at a gradient. Halftone dots simulate what a gradient looks like. However, they do not come into the equation until we output films.
To use the same picture from before, here’s when we see each.
“I thought you said we don’t need to create halftone dots within Photoshop?!”
I did, because you don’t. The halftones are created during the film printing process. Either the programs or RIP system (coupled with a postscript capable printer) handles converting your gradations into halftones.
There are only a handful of circumstances when creating halftones within Photoshop would be necessary. These would include, among others, trying to get a desired look using exaggerated halftone dots or if you don’t have a proper printer or RIP system.
Halftones are created during the film printing process.
So, now you know what goes into creating halftones and when it happens. You also know that it’s unnecessary to create halftones yourself within Photoshop in order to print tees.
In fact, if your prospective screen-printer told you that you need to, I’d suggest finding someone who knows what they’re talking about to print your goods.
Got questions? Ask ‘em in the comment section.