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Creating Multi-Color Designs for Screen Printing

Publicado por Jeffrey Gononsky en

Are you a beginner screen printer looking for tips on how to make your color choices pop? Screen printing is a fun and engaging way to print one’s designs for personal or professional use on numerous surfaces like tote bags and apparel. Not only is screen printing versatile in patterns and applications, but you can create high-quality patterns at an affordable price.


The tool that makes this art form so versatile is screen printing ink. Whether you prefer thicker, vibrant ink or water-based ink for lower opacity and thickness with muted tones, the ink you choose at a screen printing supply store greatly impacts your project’s final results. Do you need assistance integrating new ink pigments into your designs to craft high-quality prints? Soon, you’ll be a master at multi-color designs for screen printing by taking to heart these industry secrets.

Why Does Color Matter in Screen Printing?

No matter your reason for creating a screen-printed masterpiece, you must understand how to use color. Color is a powerful tool to draw people’s attention to your designs and help you express your artwork’s intention by setting a tone through a cohesive color scheme. Art has a thorough guideline of appealing color schemes to help creatives like yourself, known as color theory.


Color theory organizes unique color schemes, pitting those that work well together and grouping colors with their respective complementary and tertiary color matches. If you aren’t sure what pigments best complement your print pattern, studying color theory will help you find your way.


If you are a beginner screen printer, use only one color when pressing your pigmentation through your screen printer machine. Each color has to be printed onto your application separately rather than mixed at once, which can be a complex process for a beginner.


Due to screen printing ink coming in a wide range of colors and viscosity, you will find that different inks complement numerous projects. The ink you used in your last project may not provide the same great results as a different one would for your current project. As a beginner in the field, several factors can decide which pigment you should use for different designs.

Types of Screen Printing Inks

You can choose from many types of high-quality screen printing ink to gain satisfactory results when you finish your print. Here are some of the most popular and accessible inks for screen printing beginners.

Water-Based Paper & Fabric Inks

Are you looking for a high-quality printing ink that will seep into your fabric, creating a soft and long-lasting print? Water-based ink is a thinner ink similar to a dye in its ability to saturate fibers in apparel, changing the color while providing a comfortable feeling when worn.

Airbrush Textile Inks

For those looking for a wide range of colored inks to mix at an affordable price, you will enjoy screen printing with airbrush textile inks. While airbrush inks are perfect for adding attractive accents to your home’s interior, they are also incredibly versatile in design. They can be applied to any surface with a screen printing machine.

Plastisol Inks

As a beginner screen printer, it’s more than likely that you’ve heard of plastisol ink. Screen printers commonly use this type of screen printing ink due to its high-quality pigmentation, opaque-ness, and adhesive abilities. Plastisol is easy to use, and its resulting hues make for great multi-colored prints.

Discharge Inks

Discharge inks are water-based dyes used to remove fabric dye and add water-based fabric pigmentation. Its ease in lifting old attire’s color to replace it with new color schemes makes discharge ink a popular choice for screen printers. Not only does discharge ink show up great on darker-colored fabrics, but you can also print a wide range of vibrant colors.

Supplies You’ll Need To Create Your Masterpiece

Due to screen printing being the art of pressing ink onto a surface through a woven mesh screen, you will need to acquire several tools to keep on hand. Due to the more complex nature of screen printing more than one color onto an object, the list of supplies you will need includes the following:


  • Screen Printing Squeegee
  • Screen Printer Machine
  • Screen Printer Ink
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Paintbrushes
  • Screen Drawing Fluid
  • Screen Filler
  • Plastic Spoon
  • A Frame
  • Emulsion
  • Silk Screen Printer Mesh
  • Cardboard
  • A Stencil of Your Design

While this may initially seem like an extensive supplies list, the colored ink you apply during screen printing needs to be placed in the correct order to create a multi-colored design.

How To Screen Print Multiple Colors

Now that you’ve obtained all of your needed supplies to print more than one color on a surface with a printer, you will begin by placing your pattern on a piece of cardboard and marking the corners before removing the screen and artwork. Once you’ve marked the edges of your artwork on the cardboard, you will align your screen on top of your artwork, with the flat side facing down. Keep the screen in place by taping it down with some adhesive tape before tracing your design with a pencil. You will need a separate screen for each color of your print since they need to be applied separately.


Once you’ve finished your initial set-up, begin by painting your screen, drawing fluid within the lines of the design on the back of the screen. Repeat this step with each screen and color choice. Once finished, you will set these screens aside to dry overnight. Next, you will tape off the outer edges of your printer screen and use your squeegee to apply screen filler on the back of the net. This ensures that ink doesn’t come through the back of the screen. After applying filler to the backs of your screens, let them dry overnight again.


Once your screens are dry the next day, rinse them with relatively cold water, so your drawing fluid is removed before letting them dry again. Once dried completely, you will set your screen face down onto the surface you wish to design. Using a plastic spoon to dispense your first color choice, apply firm and even pressure as you pull your squeegee down on the screen. Make sure you only move the tool once before lifting the screen straight up. Let your artwork dry before applying the next color to create a multi-colored screen print.


Now that you’ve gotten a firm grasp on color theory and how to successfully overlay multiple colors with a screen printing squeegee, you’ll be able to create better, more vibrant designs with a screen printing machine. Do you need help finding high-end materials at an affordable price? Holden’s Screen Supply Corp is a quality screen printing supply store that houses a wide range of equipment to equip yourself with for your next printing project.


Browse our selection of screen printing goods on our online store today or visit us in person at our Brooklyn store for more information. Beginner screen printing fans will love our international shipping.