Screen-printers need power on press. As a color separator, it’s my goal to build my color separations so they give the most power on press as possible.
Having power on press is how I refer to having multiple options at your disposal. These are options that give the screen-printer the power to make the print look as nice as possible while it’s up on press.
One thing we must consider as color separators is the fact that we’re simply part of a process. There are other skilled people performing skilled tasks.
And being that the task of creating the films comes first, it is our duty to provide them with the tools they need in order to their jobs to the fullest. We’re going to do this by providing them with as many options as possible.
To illustrate, let’s start at the beginning.
How Do You Like Your Tea?
Think about how you like to receive your files. Layers or no layers? 72dpi or 300dpi? Effects or no effects?
I bet you could answer all of those questions fairly quickly. I’m also willing to bet you could give many different reasons for each of your answers as well.
One thing each one of your answers has in common is that they all allow for you to do a better job creating your seps. They give you options. They give you power.
So how do we give options to those behind us in the process?
Get on the Floor
The best way to get the answers you need is to ask the very people your seps will be going to. Ask the person burning screens what they would like to see on your films.
You might get a simple request to make your registration marks larger. They may also tell you that it’s impossible for them to hold your 1-5% dots.
You might be asked to clean up those small dots before giving them film. They might explain to you that they have to overexpose your seps to get rid of those small dots. And in the process, they lose some of the clarity while gaining moiré.
Regardless of what they tell you, listen to what they say. You might come out of it with some gems.
Ask the Press Operator What They Would Like to See
Answers will vary but you might hear requests to move your reg marks away from the image, wanting lighter coverage throughout, stronger bases, or better color selections on your behalf.
The point is, it’s more than likely they’ll have a request or two. And it’s best if you listen to them.
There is nothing more important than experience so get out on the floor when you have the time and burn/wash out some screens. Walk around the press and watch each color go down.
These things will stay with you when you’re back at your desk sepping out your next image.
More Power On Press To Ya
Notwithstanding the tips the crew you work with will give you, here are a couple of things I do to give more power on press.
Change Up Your Sequence
As a color separator, one should always give the option to change the sequence freely once on press. Is the red 187 not strong enough once the dark red 202 has printed?
Try switching them in the sequence and see how that looks. To do this, however, you need to build the options into your separations.
Keep track of your coverage where your inks overlap. Whenever possible, give the option to flip around the sequence by keeping your coverage uniform.
If you change the sequence within your channels palette and the results are markedly different, it’s best to readdress your ink coverage.
The goal: to be able to freely change the sequence while the image stays somewhat the same. Of course, there will be some changes in appearance when doing this. But we don’t won’t those changes to be too great.
Another way to give power on press is to include optional screens. Not many people (read “nobody”) can accurately predict how every single ink color is going to act on every single colored garment.
When this is the case with a separation I’m working on, I’ll include an optional screen. For example, in addition to the regular base, I’ll include an “Optional Base” (labelled as such). I only do this if I feel they might need/want one.
Tape It Off
The ability to tape off sections of a screen can come in handy and be used as an option by the color separator. Keep this in mind when looking to provide options.
For instance, let’s say you have an all gray logo that stands apart from the rest of the image, and you’re already using 2 different grays in your seps. Since it can be taped off without affecting anything else on the tee, add this logo on both grays.
The printer can choose which looks best and tape off the other.
Different Color Options
Don’t be afraid to call out different choices when it comes to PMS colors. For instance, you called out a navy 282 but 648 might also work. Call out both of them and let the press operator decide which is best.
There’s no way you can be entirely sure about how a color will print until it’s printed. Because of this, don’t feel obligated to always call out only one color.
Once You’re Done, You’re Done
Your ultimate goal is to finish the job and never see it again. Do whatever you can to make this happen because once that job leaves your desk, it becomes very expensive.
On the flip side of this, if you want to be responsible for a great print, you have to give the team the tools they need, great separations.
And all great separations come with the power to make changes on press built right in.