Screen Printing - August/September 2017 - 20
put it in the proper position on a virtual garment (see Figure 2).
Another button would quickly add a job information bar to the
bottom of the image, and after customizing this information to
your needs, a final macro button would convert the resulting
image into an emailable file that can be rapidly sent to the client.
A final consideration is to have swipe files for your email
server. These allow you to format standard approval requests
into text blocks that are selected and popped into emails in
one step so that sending an art approval is a matter of seconds
from start to finish.
AutomAting Art SepArAtionS
It's still common practice for shops to do their separations
manually, but some software scripts are available that can produce successful output. Most of the time, these systems rely
on separating files for a fixed set of colors that are included
in the presets, so there can be issues separating colors that lie
outside that range.
A different way to tackle automating the separation
process is to break it up into pieces. This allows the artist to
make the best use of automation in areas of the design where
it makes sense, and adjust other sections manually instead of
trying to force commands where they don't fit.
Before separating any file for screen printing, it's important
to discuss the basics. The main reason to automate separations
in the first place is that the artwork is fairly complicated - and it
is a bitmap (or Photoshop) file and not a simple vector file that
could be rapidly output. The next consideration is that the file
should be properly prepared for the separation process. This
includes checking the file resolution to make sure it is adequate
and removing any background from the active image elements
in the file (see Figure 3). Making sure the file is prepared
correctly will ensure that your scripts will influence the file in
the right way, without unexpected outcomes. It's important to
always create a duplicate file in a backup folder prior to
running any automated processes, just in case something goes
wrong and you need to start over.
In Photoshop, you can program a group of commands by
recording them with the Actions palette. Although you can
record a lot of commands in a row this way, the process does
have limitations and it takes quite a bit of trial and error to
create a fully functional and versatile script. Fortunately, the
time invested will pay off in a big way over time.
Once the file is prepared, you can then apply different
scripts depending on the type of artwork and garment. Here
are a few of the most common scripts that can be applied to
popular design styles.
Underbase scripts A good underbase script will place
white under any bright, primary colors in the design while
leaving any solid black areas out of the screen. It's good to
have different densities available inside this script so you
can properly address a black shirt, which requires a little less
underbase in neutral tones and darker colors, or a brightly
colored shirt like a red or royal blue, where the underbase will
need to be very solid so the shirt color doesn't damage the
image hue (see Figure 4).
though automation is often thought of in terms of the screen printing press,
it can speed up a shop's art intake, creation, approval, and revision. Macro
buttons can be used to edit multiple designs in one step (Figure 1) and resize
finished artwork for a variety of virtual garments (Figure 2).