Separation Techniques

4 Color Process

[Mirror Image Graphic]

Process on garments is used to reproduce images that have a palette of colors well beyond the limits of the press. It is effective in reproducing paintings or photographs and can be used for more graphic images that contain a wide variety of colors. Some printers also use process to print on colored or dark shirts but this technique is very labor intensive and the results are often less than amazing. There are a myriad of technical problems associated with this process.

Four color process printing on textiles is a technique that has been in a state of development for over 15 years, even though there are many printers producing process prints in production on a daily basis. There is still a great deal of wrangling between knowledgeable printers about everything from screen angles and frequencies to separations techniques and hardware. It is due to the fact that there is such a wide latitude in the results achievable on press with the same set of separations that makes any kind of consensus quite elusive. The fundamental problem of any halftone reproduction on garments is the pressure needed to saturate the weave of the fabric, which causes extreme amounts of dot gain. Shirt printers have employed a vast array of techniques, most of which are proprietary, to deal with the tonal range deficiencies. Some printers pay $300-500 to separation houses that specialize in process separations for t-shirts, while others have spent untold piles of cash on high end printers.

Not a lot of answers in this section but in terms of industry wide generalizations this is about the closest we can come. The one conclusion we can draw is that process separating for screen printed garments is more problematic than just about any other medium. It is considerably easier for a marginally experienced desktop publisher to achieve quality results with the standard desktop separation software, such as Adobe Photoshop, than it is to create even acceptable results on a shirt. If your images are photographic and require 4 color process then be prepared to be much more selective in your choice of printers. Ask to see samples, especially ones that address reproduction problems similar to the ones in the images you wish to have printed.