Screen Print
Screen Print
In love with bold colours and strong lines? Award-winning illustrator ELIZA SOUTHWOOD shows you how to make a simple, graphic screenprint

I have been fascinated by screen printing for years. I think it’s because I love the textural quality of old retro graphics and I’m also drawn to bold colours and strong lines.

There are various ways to make screenprints. The simplest method is to cut out a stencil from newsprint and place it over the paper you want to print on. The screen is placed on top, the ink is pulled through the screen with a squeegee, and the newsprint will cling to the underside of the screen, enabling you to repeat the process with more paper and create a small “edition” (a run of more than one print). The newspaper stencil will act as a blocker to the ink. However, the newsprint will eventually degrade, and you will have to wash down the screen before moving on to the next colour (if your print has more than one colour). Ideally your screen will be fixed to a flat surface with hinges, so that it stays in place, but can still be lifted up and down.

The most common method is to use a photosensitive coating, which is what I will show you here. The coating becomes impermeable when dry and enables you to create pretty much anything in print. The screen is coated, and then a black stencil is placed on a lightbox, with the coated screen resting on top. The screen is then exposed to UV light for a few minutes. Wherever the stencil has had contact with the photosensitive coating, it will not have been “hardened” by the light exposure and will wash away, leaving you with the image you want to print. Some printmakers prefer to paint directly on to the screen with a screen blocker, a more direct process.

Screenprints can be made on a variety of papers. A heavy paper, such as 270gsm, will take several layers of ink more easily, but generally screen printing is very versatile, and you can pretty much print on anything. Cartridge paper for instance, is fine.

Other useful tools are brown tape (used to block out the edges of the screen) and a sheet of transparent film (used for “registering” and making a test print). The film should be stuck down to your printing surface along one edge, creating a sort of hinge, so the paper can be slid underneath to give you an idea of where the ink is going to come through the screen. Once the paper is in the right position, the registering film can be turned over out of the way so you can print directly onto the paper.



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April 2020