6 Replies Latest reply on Jan 18, 2009 1:24 PM by John Danek

    Best CS3 program for Silkscreen illustration

      Hello all and Happy New Year. I have a question about a silkscreen project. They want the illustration separated into 6 colors. Is it best to create the image in Illustrator, then separate it in InDesign? Or should I use Photoshop? I've never color separated my illustrations before...

      Thanks very much! Alex
        • 1. Re: Best CS3 program for Silkscreen illustration
          Gernot Hoffmann Level 3

          define in AI six swatches by spot inks (either
          directly by Lab values or based on a swatch library,
          numbers as well in Lab, not in CMYK).
          Select all unused swatches and delete them.
          Process K and registration black cannot be deleted.
          These don't create separations (plates) if unused.
          Save as PDF (all colors unchanged).
          Test by Acrobat Pro: Tools > Print Production >
          Output Preview.

          If you want a separated PDF:
          Print to Adobe PDF (not Export as PDF). Choose here
          Separations (host based) instead of Composite.
          This delivers six pages with separations, now in black
          on white.

          Best regards --Gernot Hoffmann
          • 2. Re: Best CS3 program for Silkscreen illustration
            Level 1
            Thanks so much ~ At the risk of sounding completely, well...Do I define the swatches before I open up my illustration?

            You see I have a painting that I want to convert into just 6 colors so it can be silk-screened.

            Thanks again, Alex
            • 3. Re: Best CS3 program for Silkscreen illustration
              John Danek Level 4
              It sounds like you'd be better off using bitmap based Photoshop ( because it is a painting ). Silkscreen has the unique ability to use special inks ( glitter, flourescents, spot and process, as well as flash Whites and grays ). You can setup as many channels as you need and Photoshop can print separations using its 1-Bit halftone screens. If you're vendor is printing on a dark garment, they'll need one or two bump channel(s) for the Whites which will print first and then the remaining process colors or any combination thereof. The advantage to Photoshop is you can manipulate the channels individually.
              • 4. Re: Best CS3 program for Silkscreen illustration
                Gernot Hoffmann Level 3

                aha, the graphic wasn't created by AI, it's a painting.
                Then we have at least two choices:

                a) print the graphic like a CMYK image, but with special
                silkscreen inks. That means: it's a raster image, printed
                by small dots. Any color can be simulated by appearance.
                It's a case for Photoshop - as recommended by John.

                b) print the graphic like a vector graphic. This is IMO
                more appropriate for your purpose. Any graphic can be
                vectorized by AI 'Trace' or 'Live Trace'. As a result,
                the graphic consists of uniform areas with the same color,
                and by appearance one has only the six ink colors.

                Tracing works well for graphics which were originally designed
                as vector graphics. It works to some extent for photos,
                eventually with manual corrections.
                I don't know in the moment how to apply predefined swatches,
                instead of choosing the colors automatically. Of course it
                should be possible to replace automatically created colors
                by available ink colors (swatches).
                Please ask in the AI forum:

                In AI one needs a swatch for stroking or filling an object.
                The color (Lab values) can be re-defined later.

                It would be helpful to show an example.

                Best regards --Gernot Hoffmann
                • 5. Re: Best CS3 program for Silkscreen illustration
                  I need to transform an illustration into vector art for screen printing on T-shirts, etc. The problem is the original art is a colored pencil illustration on rough paper. (The artist did a beautiful job and is quite talented. Why he chose colored pencil, I'll never know, since he is a painter.)

                  I scanned it and used Live Trace in Illustrator CS3. The problem is I had to use 36 colors and a huge amount of paths for it to look good. Live trace is picking up all the sketchiness inherent in colored pencil drawings and the unevenness of the paper. When I simplify it through the Live Trace settings, it loses too much crucial detail, but still keeps the sketchiness of colored pencil and paper in myriad tiny closed paths.

                  I'm a graphic designer who works for a printing company so I am very familiar with creating graphics for print, but not silk screen.I know more colors means more screens, which means greater cost. I'm also afraid the complexity of the illustration will be a screen printer's nightmare. Am I correct?

                  Merging the paths would be very time-consuming. There are tons of tiny paths. Using "select same fill", then merging is a possibility. I'd then have to deselect a lot of paths. Merging colors is a possibility too. The only thing I could figure out was to reduce the number of colors and paths in Live Trace to create the basic object, then add the details and make a lot of the fills into gradients myself.

                  The whole point in using Live Trace vs. creating it manually in Illustrator was to save time and streamline the process. It seems no matter what I do, it's not going to be quick. Naturally my client wants an estimate on design time before I start. (I charge by the hour.

                  I recently upgraded to Illustrator CS3 so am not familiar with all the new features. Perhaps there is another tool/process that I could use. I'm using the tutorials through lynda.com to get up to speed. Great website!

                  Any ideas would be appreciated!

                  Thanks, Meg
                  • 6. Re: Best CS3 program for Silkscreen illustration
                    John Danek Level 4
                    The texture is producing your vector nightmare. I'd keep it a bitmap and work with the channels to produce a 6-color separation. Most automatic screen print presses are generally around 6 color, maybe 8. I'm not sure how you plan to pare down the 36 color vector redraw. And all those hatch marks...I wonder how much of that texture you will be able to retain through the screen making process?