How To: prep images for screen printing

Great for anyone interested in the screen-printing business and especially our Collar Free designers.

1. Always use your original photograph or artwork (it’s not cool to steal other people’s work)
2. Don’t place rasterized images in your illustrator files; work in photoshop or illustrator
3. If using images, please make sure they are at least 300 dpi.

Lets start with photoshop:

Option 1: Posterize

We took a picture of Mel in color and changed the setting to grayscale (image>mode>grayscale)

Then we put a halftone filter on it (filter>sketch>halftone pattern)

This is NOT a printable image

Color separation on a halftone image is a difficult and long process, but we can limit the number of colors using the posterize effect. (image>adjustments>posterize).

This is a printable image

This is also another way to posterize:

(image>adjustments>channel mixer: to adjust the color) then (image>adjustment>posterize) no more than 4 levels

Option 2: Threshold

Threshold is an easy and fun way to make your images print ready (image>adjustments>threshold). You can easily change and select color by using the color range tool (select>color range). Once you are in that mode use the eyedropper to select the desired color and fill in with a brush, paintbucket or cut and copy to new layer.

Option 3: Livetrace (Illustrator)

Import the photo into Illustrator. (object>live trace>tracing options).

These are the levels used here. Don’t use more than 6 colors. Play, experiment and surprise us with your design.

Please Note:

Try and separate your colors into separate layers. Use the color range tool (select>color range). It’s amazing! Use the eyedropper to make your selection by color. Cut (ctrl x) and paste (ctrl v) each color into a new layer. This process is not required but we want to inform you about the prep work we do before we send the art out for production. These techniques will give you a better understanding of the screen-printing industry and makes our job more efficient.

We know everyone is not familiar working with screen-printing and we will be posting more about this industry next week. If this helped and you would like to see more tutorials in the future give us a holla or comment back.  If you have specific questions email us at: or We’re here to help 🙂

-mel & michelle


8 thoughts on “How To: prep images for screen printing

  1. Thanks Seth! That pic is pretty sweet as well. These were just some random pictures we had on hand.. I’m not sure why… haha 🙂

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