Many screen printers simply use a stencil technique to create their prints. This technique is effective and you can create limitless designs with it. But I’ve found a much faster and more personal method is to screen the lines of the design you want, and then fill them in by hand painting. It allows much more creativity and freedom in your designs and regardless of how it may sound it does not require immense amounts of artistic talent. To do this, follow these steps.
Decide what design you’d like. You can use pictures on the internet, clipart, or a design you’ve drawn. Trace the lines of your picture onto your garment using a pencil. This works best with light or bright colored fabric and with a light source behind the fabric.
Using a fine tip brush, trace the design you now have on your garment using black ink. Use a good quality brush that is suited for detail work and not frayed. You may use whatever color of ink you’d like. If working on larger pieces, let part of it dry before finishing to avoid smudging.
Allow lines to dry and then set them with an iron set on medium heat. To set the ink, place a thin towel or a pillowcase over the garment and then iron the whole area with a few strokes, then allow it to cool. This will set the ink in place and avoid smudging it.
Now color inside the lines. Or outside if you are feeling rebellious and like the effect. Basically, this is the part where you get to have fun and let your imagination roam. If you are doing a particularly large garment, again do one section and allow it to dry before moving on to prevent mistakes. Use different sized brushes of good quality and always wash them after each use.
Set colors. Set the picture when it is done the same way you did with the lines, except this time run over then picture with your iron 3-5 times to be completely sure it is set.
One tip is rinse and dry your brushes each time you change colors to avoid color contamination. If you want to mix colors, do so in a separate bowl.
Don’t use large gobs of ink. If the color is not coming out at opaque as you’d like, wait for the first layer to dry and then paint another layer. Repeat this until it is the color and density you like.
Be sure you are working on a flat surface and in an area prepared for a little mess. I suggest working outside, in a garage, a basement, or at the kitchen table lined with newspaper. Line the floor or carpet with newspaper if you don’t want stains as well. The designs I have seen created by this technique are wonderful and can truly be called works of art.