Have you ever heard the saying. “your print can only be as good as your artwork?” Well, with my 30 years of experience in the screen printing industry I can only vouch for that. YOu see, the screen printing industry has lent its tools to make positive and make color separations from the litho printing industry which is what all the software today uses as a standard. However this has never been ideal for screen printers – and in fact, been the thorn in every screen printer’s side since the first version of Aldus Freehand and Corel Draw 3 came out, I would know because I was there at the time. Let me explain;

Firstly, all these apps used today assume that you are printing full-color CMYK, on paper with a litho machine, and allow you the option to print spot colors as well, but only simple solids and simple tints and gradual fades. This is all great for the litho printer, but this will leave the screen printer and their clients with many frustrations, headaches, and problems because the first challenge is knowing that not all your printing will be done on white garments, so white ink needs to be printed first in most cases and even today nowhere in Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator is there an option to do that. It all needs to be done manually on this state-of-the-art software that is used today.

That’s where people like myself come in. When I started, I was working with one of the first screen printers to have automatic printing machines in Joburg, and my job was to figure out and produce color separations which are on par with what was coming out in the USA and Europe, being full-color images. I was given access to purchase whatever tools and plugins were available in the USA, and we purchased all of them and tried them out. Some worked in some instances, and some were just a mess, but even the best plugin or RIP does not give a solution to all the types of graphics and combinations out there.

I ended up using a combination of all the methods I have learned from the apps and plugins and came up with a manual system that I use today to ensure that my artwork and color separations are the being resourceful and use what is available to the maximum by determining the best way of achieving the best possible print for the design and garment.

Printing CMYK in screen printing is however a good option and alternative to having full control over your printing and used very often still today, but the problems there will be that most artists do not know and understand this process very well, and will make the white under base one big solid slab which will give the print a very hard and undesirable feel. The other issue is the fact that CMYK does not give you the full spectrum of colors available compared to what our eyes can see, and this is very limited. Even RGB (CMYK’s counterpart), which our TV’s, devices, and displays are limited, this is why our TV’s are constantly evolving to give a finer and more vibrant result.

On that note, even our printers and copiers have done their part in improving color range by adding more colors to the printers which you may be familiar with inkjet printers using additional colors like those half process colors. Well, I can assure you that having an inkjet printer that has 7 colors is not much better than one that has 4, especially when they have not added different colors. They have just given variations of the ones that you already have, and therefore can sell more ink cartridges and not offer anything significant in return in most cases.

What this all means is that you are still unable to display and print true metallic, fluorescent, ultraviolet, and gloss colors unless you make a special allocation for that specific color which will have to be built into the system, beforehand.

Those are referred to as SPOT colors in their wider definition and this excludes textures, transparency, reflection, and refraction. Back to screen printing, this SPOT color theory is ideal for their printing.

Another issue with screen printing is all the downtime that the printer has to suffer from all this trial and error going on constantly, which the customer will notice when deadlines are not met or met with disastrous outcomes after choosing to deliver on time (and wrong) or not (and face losing the job and customer while hoping that the bad print will be overlooked. The other issue here is that, unlike the litho printing industry where cromolyn are made on-demand to be able to preview how the final print will look in its halftone state, dot for dot like it will be on the final product.

Well, let me tell you that it is possible to make cromolyn for screen printing, and I happen to be the only one I have ever heard of to offer this service as a standard with all my color separation jobs that I do.

I am going to stop here for today and continue with the spot colors in my next article because I want to focus on what I have said so far and make you an offer to assist yours in getting the best possible results in your screen printing.

What I can offer you is that I will make your color separations for your full-color screenprints, using what I have learned and mastered over the years, as well as give you cromolyn to show almost 100% accuracy how the separations will look and be when screen printed, dot for dot which will save the printer a fortune in downtime as this can now be proofed before it is the press, and I can do this all remotely. Just about any screen printer can print what I give them, provided that they meet the minimum requirements needed for a commercial screen printer and I can even work around any other special requirement that is specific to that printer upon request.

What I will give you will be:

1) a final layout to show print positions on the garments, Pantone colors, etc.
2) a cromolyn to show how the final print will look
3) the final color separations, print-ready, to size, one per page on a PDF file, already with the halftone dots so all you have to do is push print from the PDF file and you can print these colors separations on any printer. It does not have to be a postscript or have a RIP. You can even print them from your inkjet printer at home on transparency film as long it can print a reasonably fine resolution and get a consistent print for registration purposes.

So, what do I charge for this you must be thinking? Well, it’s quite simple I guess. R100 per color for CMYK prints, and R150 per color for full-color SPOT separations (Simulated Process Colour Separations), plus extra if I need to design the artwork or still make the artwork in an acceptable resolution needed.

I can even assist if you do not have an in-house artist at all and we can discuss myself doing all your day-to-day and simple artworks for you remotely, at a better rate.

I have prepred 2 samples / examples that you can download and print to see for yourself exactly what I am offering you:

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