how to screen print?

how to screen print

The Art of Screen Printing: A Step-by-Step Guide

Screen printing, also known as silk screening, is a versatile and popular printing technique used to transfer designs onto various surfaces, including fabric, paper, glass, and wood. Originating in ancient China, screen printing has evolved into a sophisticated art form embraced by artists, designers, and artisans worldwide. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the process of screen printing, from preparing your design to pulling the final print.

1. Design Preparation:

Begin by creating or selecting a design for your screen print. This can be hand-drawn artwork, digital designs, or even photographs. Remember that screen printing works best with bold, high-contrast designs. Once you have your design, transfer it onto a transparent film or acetate using inkjet or laser printing.

2. Screen Preparation:

Next, prepare your screen. Choose a screen made of mesh fabric stretched over a frame. The mesh count will depend on the detail of your design – finer meshes for intricate designs and coarser meshes for bold graphics. Coat the screen with a light-sensitive emulsion, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Once coated, leave the screen to dry in a darkroom or under safe light conditions.

3. Exposing the Screen:

With your design printed on a transparent film, place it on top of the coated screen and secure it with tape or a vacuum frame. Expose the screen to UV light, either using sunlight or a specialized exposure unit. The light will harden the emulsion except where it’s blocked by your design, creating a stencil on the screen.

4. Washing Out the Screen:

After exposure, remove the film and wash out the unexposed emulsion using water. You’ll be left with a clean stencil of your design on the screen. Allow the screen to dry completely before proceeding.

5. Setting Up Your Printing Station:

Set up your printing station with the screen secured in a screen printing press or clamped to a table. Place your substrate (fabric, paper, etc.) flat on the printing surface, ensuring it’s clean and positioned correctly.

6. Printing:

Apply a line of screen printing ink at the top of the screen, above your design. Use a squeegee to pull the ink down the screen, forcing it through the stencil and onto the substrate below. Apply firm, even pressure to ensure full coverage. Lift the screen carefully to reveal your print.

7. Drying and Curing:

After printing, allow your prints to air dry or use a heat source to cure the ink, depending on the type of ink you’re using. Follow the ink manufacturer’s instructions for the appropriate curing method.

8. Clean-Up:

Clean your screen and tools thoroughly with water or screen printing solvents to remove any ink residue. Proper cleaning ensures the longevity of your screen and equipment.


Screen printing is a rewarding and versatile printing technique that allows artists and designers to create vibrant, high-quality prints on a variety of surfaces. With the right materials, equipment, and techniques, anyone can master the art of screen printing and unleash their creativity onto the world. Whether you’re printing T-shirts, posters, or fine art prints, the possibilities are endless with screen printing. So, roll up your sleeves, gather your supplies, and start printing your masterpiece today!