Many people who are just beginning in screen printing tee shirts or other textiles often cannot afford to purchase RIP software. RIP software is used to output artwork in the form of inkjet film positives for making screens when screen printing garments. The RIP software allows the user to output dark, dense films as well as films with halftones or other dot patterns. But if you don’t have RIP software or you output directly from Illustrator, what can you do to make your film positives more dense and much darker?
The first thing you can do is use a high quality inkjet film like the Catspit’s Super Inkjet Film Positives. These are not water proof however they perform very well. It is possible to get a better result with a water proof inkjet film like the type I offer on the ecommerce store. If you already have an inkjet film you like, you should be able to improve the quality of the finished film positive by following these tips.
One of the best things you can do to make your film positives darker when you do not use RIP software and the inkjet ink cartridges in your inkjet printer are all still CMYK is to produce a color rich black. A color rich black is a black color produced by using 100% color for each of the CMYK channels in the printer. This is the easiest to do when you are creating the artwork from scratch. You need to make each individual object in your vector art software 100% CMYK. You will have to tweak each of these to 100% manually in the fill or outline color chooser. So for each film positive color separation you want to print, you make all the objects 100% CMYK. This should help make a color rich black which will be darker and more dense than just using the black channel alone.
Another tweak you can use is in the printer settings for Photoshop or Illustrator and an Epson 1400 inkjet printer. Here you can adjust the printer to print a better black with a higher resolution. Follow these steps to make the adjustment when you print from the standard print dialogue box.
Go to File> Go to Print> Go to Properties. In the Paper Options choose type Ultra Premium Photo Paper Glossy. Now go to Advanced> Click Continue> In this Paper Quality Options section choose Ultra Premium Photo paper Glossy if it is not chosen already. Now click the box with the Photo RPM. Then in the Print Options you will click the Grayscale box and unclick the High Speed box. The bottom line is you wan to turn off the high speed printing setting while turning on the grayscale setting and using the highest quality paper setting for your software and printer. The instructions can vary form different versions of software and even between Photoshop and Illustrator. But if you can manage these tweaks, it should help out. Please note that if you turn on the grayscale setting, the color rich black mentioned above will not work because it will only print grayscale. If you use the color rich black tweak above, leave the grayscale option unchecked.
Again, I never clamed to be an expert on creating artwork or film positives but these are a couple of tips I use whenever I create my own film positives without RIP software. When I get artwork with complicated designs, I often send the job out to get film positives made by someone who knows a lot more about it than myself. Getting your artwork set up properly for screenprinting is critical to job success. If your artwork sucks, so will the printing and the finished tee shirt.