Simulating Screen Printing in PhotoShop
Since I posted my illustration of Jarvis Cocker I’ve had a few people ask on how to create that style of image. This tutorial is a very basic walk through of how to achieve the pop-art, screen printed style digitally in PhotoShop which you could build upon and very easily make your own. This particular stimulation recreates quite a grungey mistake ridden print – which is what it always looks like when I attempt screen printing anyway
Firstly you need to create your illustration. For the purpose of this tutorial I will be using an image of a cat from Public-Domain-Image.com as a reference.
Think about your reference image in layers – upping the contrast might help you do this. Choose a highlight and a lowlight olour that compliment each other. In this case I use yellow and blue. You should also choose an in between shade to use for shading – ovbiously this in this case my in between colour is green, but in your case in might just be a darker version of the highlight colour or a lighter version of the lowlight colour. You might want to swatch these colours at the side of your canvas so you can easily select them when you want.
Using the pen tool begin to draw your illustration – I began with the colour there is the most of, yellow. Try to keep your shape something you could realistically cut out into a stencile – if you look at the image below I kept my lines very simple and used few anchor points.
Work on this colour until you’re happy with it. It doesn’t matter if you use multiple layers for one colour because we’ll be merging them into one layer later on. Now draw shadows and features using your low light colour.
Using your in-between colour add shading and less prominent details.
Now stamp all the layers into a new layer. You can do this by hitting Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E (Windows) or Shift+Command+Option+E (Mac). It’s very important this is a new layer. Now set your foreground colour to black and your background colour to white, go to “Filter” and select halftone. Choose whatever settings look best.
Hide this layer for now. Now merge all your colour layers together. You should be left with three layers – highlight (yellow), lowlight (blue) and shading (green). Working on the blue layer go to Select then Load Selection and choose “layername Transparency” from the drop down box. Now select the yellow layer and hit delete, then the green layer and hit delete. Repeat this with the next two colours. None of the layers should overlap now. The image below illustrates what you are trying to achieve.
Now set each layer to multiply and rotate it slightly. For the purpose of this tutorial I’ve rotated each layer by about 2 degrees. The edges should over lap slightly, as if the layers have been printed on top of each other but don’t quite match up.
When screen printing by hand a squeegee is used to push the paint through the screen. Just like a squeegee when cleaning a window this can sometimes leave lines behind in the paint. To stimulate this open a new blank canvas and draw some line shapes. They should be reasonably thin and vary in shape, like the image below. Define this as a brush.
Remember that halftone layer from earlier? I haven’t forgotten about it! Make that visible and add a layer mask to it Using the new brush erase parts of the layer then draw them back in. I would recommend moving the brush quickly so it skips slightly and leaves the lines behind. Concentrate on leaving these lines around the edges of the “paint” and the areas which would naturally be lighter. Set this layer to multiply.
And now you’re finished! As said before you can really build upon this – try adding texture, vector shapes, text, anything you want!