Screen Printing Hand Drawn Designs with Grain Mark Screen Film

We often talk about creating digital images to make exposed screens but there are a lot of ways to use hand drawn designs that bypass the need for computers
at all – hooray! Grain Mark Screen Film allows you to draw directly onto a screen film whilst maintaining all your lovely textural marks. Charcoal and black oil pastels work particularly
well. Here’s a project using Grain Mark Screen Film to print some fabric:

Use charcoal and oil pastels to draw your design on the rough side of the film.

Degrease and dry a 43T meshed screen and coat with sensitised photo emulsion. Dry in the dark. When dry, expose your design onto the screen using an exposure
unit or light. 

When your design is exposed, wash your screen with a hose. The marks should wash clean, leaving open areas of mesh for the ink to pass through. 

This type of screen film is a little more unpredictable than a digitally printed screen film. Lots of texture is achieved from our charcoal and oil pastel

Pin out your fabric on a slightly padded surface. We use an old army blanket tied down with a piece of thick cotton on top. Tape the edges of your screen
with parcel tape.

If you’re printing a repeat pattern, you can use the screen and the film to mark out where the screen should be placed each time. Place the film where
you want your pattern to be printed. Place your screen on top and use masking tape to mark two of the corners. Lifting your screen up slightly at one
end, remove the film and slide it beside the pattern on the screen. You can see how it will meet the previous print through the translucent mesh. Move
the screen on top so the pattern lines up and mark the corners again. Do this all along one row of your fabric.  

With the screen in its first position, scoop a row of ink along the top edge of the screen. Use your squeegee at a 45 degree angle to drag the ink down
the screen, pushing it through the mesh. This movement should sounds like a tent zip. 

Your print should have some great texture – this one has even more because of the rough linen used. 


Lift your screen and place it down in position 3 using your masking tape markers. We’re skipping position 2 so that we don’t place the screen on top of
a wet print!

Continue along the row in alternative positions. 


When you’ve finished your row you can go back to print the gaps in between. If your prints are still very wet you can scoop the excess ink back into the
pot and use a well wrung out soft car sponge to gently wipe the ink out of the mesh on both sides. This will ensure that no ink will dry on your screen
whilst you’re waiting for your print to dry. This is a great practice to use when you’ve got to take some time between prints to re-pin fabric, re-lay
t-shirts or just for a tea break!

When you’re ready, ensure your screen is dry. You can gently wipe with a tea towel to remove any drips. Place your screen down in position 2 and print
as before. Move the screen to print in all the gaps left along your row.



Wipe down and dry your screen again and then use the same method to mark out the positioning of your next row. 

Print along the row as before, in alternative positions…


…and then back along again filling in the gaps. 

Your final fabric should be a repeat pattern such as this! You could also use your print in a random scattered pattern or on its own! When your prints
are dry they can be ironed to fix the ink. 

To print your own fabric you will need:


Meet the Maker: Gail Brodholt

I am a painter and printmaker based in London.

Describe your printmaking process.

I am mainly a linocut printmaker. I enjoy the straightforward process of cutting and printing a piece of lino as there is very little complicated procedures as there are in older forms of printmaking such as etching and lithography for example. You can basically set up a little printmaking studio on your kitchen table if you want to try making a linocut as there is no need for complicated equipment. Having said that, I do have a large Albion press, five plan chests etc. so things can get out of hand…

Generally, the established method is to start with the lightest colour and proceed through to the darkest but I prefer to use a dark colour first and then use more and more transparent layers of ink to create many different tones and shades of colour.

How and where did you learn to print?

I studied for a degree in Fine Art (painting) at art college and part of the course was spending a term printmaking. Although I didn’t catch the printmaking bug at the time as I was more painting with the painting process, I finally enrolled on a printmaking course at an adult education centre and I was hooked!

Why printmaking?

Printmaking is a great way of ringing the changes in your art practice. I paint and printmake and find the process of one will often inform and enhance the other. What this generally means is that when I am really fed up with, say, a painting, I can turn it to the wall and go and do a linocut!

Where do you work?

I have my studio at Thames Side Studios in Woolwich which overlooks the Thames Barrier. It is a complex of 300 plus studios and I find it helpful to go out to work as I am too easily distracted at home, with dogs, tortoises, the garden etc. – the list is very long!

Describe a typical day in your studio.

A typical working day starts, as I am sure it does with most printmakers, with a cup of tea (or two). I catch up with news with my fellow printmaker and
studio mate, Louise Davies, and then we both get to work. She is an etcher so it’s very interesting to compare notes on our different approaches to
our work. I work through the day and come home when I feel like it, which is one of the perks of being self employed! 

How long have you been printmaking?

I have been printmaking for about 20 years and before that I mostly painted.

What inspires you?

I get most of my inspiration from those often ignored corners of London. We all spend such a lot of time these days on our mobile devices with our headphones in, that we often have ‘no time to stand and stare’ as the poem, Leisure, by WH Davies expresses so well. This is why I love stations of all kinds so much – people are so focused on getting to their destination that they are not really aware of their surroundings. I like to watch people as they’re travelling from one place to another as they are often preoccupied and unguarded.

What is your favourite printmaking product?

My favourite printmaking product is my drying rack. It’s the sort that has marbles suspended in a wooden frame and it’s such a simple yet clever idea and I often admire that unknown person’s ingenuity in inventing it as I hang my prints up to dry.

What have you made that you are most proud of?

I’m always most proud of the latest print I’ve made because it’s fresh and I haven’t had to edition yet. Of course it’s soon superseded by the next one, as it should be. That’s why we all keep working I guess!

Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?

I have a number of galleries who stock my work and I have a list of those on my website: I will also sell unframed work to be sent through the post if needed.

What will we be seeing from you next?

I’m working (very slowly!) on an idea which involves the south circular road in London. It is a very busy thoroughfare but parts of it are lined with modest semi-detached half timbered 1930s houses with little lawns and roses around the doors. It’s an interesting contrast with the roaring lorries and buses etc. that endlessly thunder past their front doors.

Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

My only advice really is to keep working. Try to do a little every day if possible and not be discouraged by rejection. So many talented printmakers don’t get the recognition they deserve because they get put off by how hard it can be. I guess you need to develop a thick skin.

To see more of Gail Brodholt’s work:

Twitter: @gailbrodholt

Instagram: @gail_brodholt



What’s a Halftone? Screen Printing a Tonal Image

People often want to screen print photographic images and hope to use black and white photographs for this. To do this you need an exposed screen. The way screen printing works is the mesh either has to be open or closed (ink passes through the open areas but cannot pass through the closed areas) therefore grey tones do not work. To make a photographic image work we have to fool the brain into thinking that there are grey areas.

We’ve put together this guide to show you a few ways to use Photoshop to get a tonal image ready for a screen. One of the ways in which to do this is by using a halftone – where the greys in an image are broken down into black and white dots.

Read our guides below for information on how to create a halftone in Photoshop, how to create a ‘cutout’ black and white image and how to get an image ready for halftone software.

If you’re getting an image ready for a Custom Exposed Screen to be made by Handprinted, we can create the halftone for you! Just send us a greyscale PDF and your imagewill go through our software:

Preparing an image for Handprinted’s halftone software

In order to get your image ready for a halftone it will need to be changed into greyscale mode. To do this in Photoshop, go to Image – Mode – Grayscale. You’ll then be asked if you want to discard all colour information so click Yes. 

Halftones will work better on images with lots of contrast. To make your image more contrasted you can use Levels. Go to Image – Adjustment – Levels (or Control+L). Drag the three triangles beneath the graph until you achieve the desired effect. The left arrow controls the dark tones, the middle arrow the mid tones and the right arrow the lightest tones. When you’re happy with the image, click OK.

We require that you send your artwork on an A sized portrait PDF. If you want an A4 screen, we need an A4 PDF. To do this, open a new A4 document. Go to File – New. Choose International Paper on the Preset drop down menu. Change Size to A4 (or A3 if using an A3 screen). Make sure your resolution is set to 300 pixels/inch.

You can then drag your image onto the new document. Use the top arrow on your vertical toolbar. The tool should look like an arrow with a cross beside it. Use the tool to click on the image and then drag your image onto your new tab (probably called Untitled-1). You can then change the size of your image on the document by dragging the corners. Holding down the shift key will ensure that you don’t stretch the image out of shape.

If you need your image to be a specific size, change the size before you drag it onto the new document. Go to Image – Image Size. Make sure the resolution is at 300 pixels/inch and then change the document size. You can then drag it onto the new document and keep it at the correct size.

You can then save your new document as a PDF by choosing Photoshop PDF in the Format drop down menu.

Our software at Handprinted will then change your image into a halftone which will look something like this:

We can expose this onto a screen for you, or send you the screen film to use yourself.

Using Cutout to create a full black and white image

Another way to use Photoshop to create a full black and white image is to use the Cutout filter. You’ll need to change your image to greyscale first  (as above) by going to Image – Mode – Grayscale and clicking Yes when asked if you want to discard all colour information. You can then change the  levels in the image (as above) using Image – Adjustments – Levels. 

 Select to Filter – Artistic – Cutout. A box will pop up giving you some options. We need the Number of Levels to be 2 (just black and white). You can move the sliders for Edge Simplicity and Edge Fidelity until you’re happy with the result. You’ll probably want the simplicity to be at 0 to get the most detail out of the image.

You’ll end up with an image that is completely black and white. It will have lost a lot of detail compared to a halftone image but it will be bolder and
easier to print, especially on a more open mesh (43T-77T) or onto fabric.

Different images will work give varying degrees of success. This image is more suited to this style:

We can change the Levels (Image – Adjustment – Levels) to give us more contrast…

…and use the same filter (Filter – Artistic – Cutout).

These images can then be changed to the correct size (Image – Image Size – 300 pixels/inch) and dragged onto a new document (File – New) ready to be printed onto a screen film or emailed to us at Handprinted.

Creating a halftone in Photoshop

When you create your own halftone you have a little more control over the outcome of the image. However, if you’re having the screen made  elsewhere (for example by us at Handprinted) you’ll need to check that you’re image is not too fine to be exposed onto a screen and you’ll need to be aware that you may not get all the detail onto the screen.

You’ll need to start with a greyscale image. Go to Image – Mode – Grayscale and then select Yes. 

Change your Levels for a more contrasted image if you like (Image – Adjustment – Levels). Make any changes to the size now, or drag your image onto a new correct sized document and then you’re ready to change to a halftone. In Photoshop it is called Bitmap Mode. Go to Image – Mode – Bitmap. You’ll then have options for how you would like to proceed. You want your Output to be 300 pixels/inch. For Method choose Halftone Screen…

Your Frequency should be around 45 – 55 lines/inch. Choose your Shape – this will be the shape of the dots. We’ve gone for Round. 

The higher the DPI (dots per inch), the more detailed your image will be in Bitmap Mode. This mode can be a little tricky though as, once it’s been converted, you cannot drag the image onto another document or easily change the size without distorting your halftone or losing detail – ensure you make these changes first and change to Bitmap Mode last.

For check your image is ready to be made into a screen, take a look at our artwork requirements for exposed screens or for more information, email us!

Meet the Maker: John Bloor

I am John Bloor, part time print maker and part time graphic designer. The amount of time I get to spend on each depends entirely on whether I have work
or not!

Describe your printmaking process

I always start by sketching in my book and at some point move onto the computer to develop the ideas into something more finished. I have a lot of anxiety
and find that working digitally is just something I need to do at the moment to help with that. I’d love to be able to work in natural media and take
that directly to print but I just don’t trust myself. So I tend to draw using my Wacom tablet in a style I call digital linocut. It allows me to closely
mimic real linocut and get a finished illustration that I’m happy with. The irony is that I then have to transfer that design to lino and cut it for
real – which allows me a chance to reinterpret the illustration and cut it properly.

So if I’m doing a linocut I then transfer the illustration to lino using old fashioned tracing paper and pencil. It’s laborious but it works. I then spend
time cutting the lino which I enjoy immensely and am very careful with. Once the lino is cut I move down to the print studio (garage) where I spend
time mixing the ink and once I’m happy with everything I will start printing.

If I’m screen printing I get the illustration colour separations printed onto acetate and then it’s off to the print studio to cut paper and mix inks.
I usually build up to printing at the weekends, so by the time I get to the weekend everything is ready, all inks mixed, paper cut and screens made.

My weekends are set aside for print making and I very much enjoy the routine you get into with printing.

How long have you been printmaking?

I’ve been printing seriously for about four years. And by seriously I mean continually going through the process of developing new ideas into finished
illustrations and then printing them.

How and where did you learn to print?

I honestly can’t remember the exact order but at some point in the past I got a screen printing kit. One of the ones which comes with a wooden framed screen,
a squeegee, some screen block and some ink. Oh and an apron which they suggest you print your first design on. So I must have done some rudimentary
printing. I seem to remember drawing and printing some alliums.

Anyway, roll on a couple more years and I was doing gig poster artwork for a friend and was very inspired by gig poster artists who screen printed their
posters – such as Strawberryluna, Cricket Press and Methane Studios. I went on a one day screen printing workshop at Badger Press where I learned how
to coat and expose a screen, plus printing technique. I started to try and print gig posters without much luck! I’d made real progress but there were
a few things going wrong I didn’t realise at the time. I was trying to print onto paper but the inks I was using were really thin, plus the squeegee
I had was a soft one and entirely unsuitable for paper printing.

Slowly, incrementally, I got better. I continued screen printing and also tried my hand at lino printing. I took yet another one day workshop, this time
at Squeegee and Ink in Newbury. That was when things really clicked into place. They helped me with my technique and finally I was able to really start
producing great quality prints.

While I had to get advice for screen printing, lino printing was a lot easier to pick up and I’ve managed to teach myself. It’s much more forgiving than
screen printing. I started cutting lino with some very cheap cutters and a tube of black ink, printing with the back of a spoon. You can’t get much

Screen printing has been quite painful, in a way, but I’m glad I’ve made the journey. There were many small things which would have been useful to know
at the start – like how you need a hard squeegee for printing on paper, how you really want inks which don’t run all over the place and how flooding
the screen is vital to a good print (and it’s always better to have a lot of ink to flood with rather than too little).

There are still many things for me to learn but I’m so happy with how my prints are looking now, I’m far less stressed about it than I used to be.

Why printmaking?

Well I started off printing homewares because I thought I saw an opportunity; a gap in the market to make desirable things. It was only after a couple
of false starts and unhappiness that I started to realise I needed to create work for myself in order to feel good about it.

So, to put it simply: nowadays I make prints because it’s good for my mind. It occupies my head, my thoughts and is a great way to pass time I might otherwise
be worrying about things. I also enjoy trying to capture the essence of something – some place or journey perhaps – in the form of a print.

Also I think I enjoy printmaking because it brings together two disciplines I love: graphic design and illustration. I love the boldness and power of prints
but the fact that they are tactile and feel like a piece of art.

I enjoy screen printing because of the bold, graphical nature and fantastic detail of the prints. It encourages daring and experimentation with reproducing
all sorts of natural media style marks and overprinting of colours to create other colours.

On the other hand, I think I enjoy block printing because of the limitations and the fact that the cut shapes you make with gouges lend the pieces a certain
feel. You have to work hard to come up with a variety of marks and textures with block printing and that in itself is rewarding.

Where do you work?

It’s a bit of a joke really! I print in our garage, sharing the space with all the normal sort of stuff you might store in a garage. The only special thing
about the garage is that we have installed a large stainless steel sink which is great for making screens. It’s the opposite of photogenic but it is

Describe a typical day in the studio

I would start off by mixing ink and cutting paper if this hasn’t already been done. But I’m really organised so it usually has been! If I’m screen printing
then I would have made the screens the evening before. This is because my print studio garage is not light tight so unfortunately I have to wait until
after dark before I can coat the screens.

On printing days I prepare the first colour screen by clamping it to the base board with the hinge clamps. I then position the paper below the screen and
when I’m happy I put down a couple of plastic corners (made from credit cards) to register each sheet of paper. I then tape up the screen. I am ultra
careful about taping up the screen and I always do it so the way the tape overlaps means if ink ever gets under the tape it won’t get on the paper.
I love to use this blue tape called “R Tape” but it’s hard to get hold of in this country.

Once the screen is taped, registration corners are in place, ink is mixed and paper is cut then we are ready to print! I print each sheet with the first
colour and then hang it on my drying rack (which is actually just a bunch of metal foldback clips on lengths of string hanging from the ceiling!).

Once the first colour is printed it’s time to wash out the screen ensuring no ink residue is left. Printing ink onto paper usually dries really quickly
so it’s not long before I can take down all the sheets of paper and prepare the second screen for printing. The process is repeated for any further

What inspires you?

I’m very inspired by natural spaces and places around me, for example the river Test which is very close by where we live, and the countryside and hedgerows
of Hampshire. But I’m also very inspired by the coast, especially Cornwall where we holiday repeatedly out of a sheer love for the place.

I try to reinterpret these places in my work in various ways including fantasy, surrealism and abstraction.

If I’m allowed to talk about people who influence me I’m traditionally influenced by poster designers such as Strawberryluna, Daniel Danger, Cricket Press,
Jason Munn, Methane Studios and Jay Ryan. I admire their bold, graphical styles and in some cases the ability to convey meaning in the simplest of

More recently, in the last few years as I’ve got into block printing, I have discovered a whole new world of incredible artists such as Angie Lewin, Mark
Hearld, Bryan Angus, Holly Meade, Jane Ormes, Jeremy Speck, Maz Prints and Hugh Ribbons.

I’m amazed and impressed by the distinctive styles and textures which people like Angie Lewin and Bryan Angus have created for themselves.

What is your favourite printmaking product?

Wow this is the hardest question. I’d have to say modern polyester mesh screens are amazing inventions, allowing precise, clean, bold printing of colours
onto a variety of materials. Also Ternes Burton Co. registration pins and plastic tabs have allowed me to take a big step forward in registering colours
with my lino prints.

What have you made that you are most proud of?

I think at the moment I am most proud of my “Tin Mine” screen print because it brings together so many important things for me. This is the print where
I started to experiment a little, where I got a bit more abstract but it still features a wealth of details which I really like. Also it’s the first
print where I completely nailed registration printing and I played around with overprinting colours quite a bit too, so these overprinted colours really
work well. There are some really subtle overprinting effects, like the mid blue and dark blue in the rock stack. This print is really a starting point
for my future work.

Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?

I will soon have my work in Craft Centre and Design Gallery Leeds. I expect to be in a few more galleries or shops soon. I’m just starting to approach
galleries and shops, as well as starting to apply to print fairs so I’m really hoping that 2019 will be the year I start to reach a wider audience.

I regularly do the Monthly Market at the Maltings, Farnham, and also the Festival of Crafts in October there.

My work is available to purchase on Folksy at:

It’s also worth mentioning that I have a blog which I regularly update with my work and also posts about people, prints and ceramics which inspire me.
My blog is at

I’m on Facebook and on Instagram @johnbloordesign

What will we be seeing from you next?

I have more prints coming in the series “Safe Harbours” which will include linocut and screen prints. I am also excited to be printing a couple of posters
which feature song lyrics I particularly like in combination with illustrations. I am a big fan of letterpress printing and these lyric posters will
emulate that look with really bold typography.

I have also already illustrated three sleeping animal prints which will be printed in time for the Autumn fairs. And if that isn’t enough I have a few
fun projects such as a tote bag featuring a shark and a t-shirt featuring a rabbit!

Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

I think my advice is hang in there! Problems can always be solved either by asking around or by having a little tuition. Looking back, my learning process
has been quite slow and incremental and I’ve solved one problem at a time. Be patient and keep on printing! 

See more of John’s work:




Instagram @johnbloordesign




Making a Carborundum Gel Plate


Akua Carbundum Platemaking Gel is a great
new product that allows you to make high contrasted, textured intaglio plates. The gel can be screen printed onto a plate and printed with Akua Intaglio InksDrypoint Plastic makes a perfect plate with a wipe-clean surface.


To make our own Caborundum Gel plate we used an exposed screen.
A plain screen with an area sectioned off with tape also works well as the gel can be worked into when wet. A Thermofax screen may also be used.

Peel off the top piece of film from your drypoint plastic and place your plate underneath the image on your screen. Scoop a line of Carborundum Gel along the top of your screen. 

Use a squeegee to
pull the gel down the screen and push it through the mesh. Hold the squeegee at a 45 degree angle and press quite firmly for best results. Be careful
not to let your screen slide on the plate. 

Let your gel dry on the plate – around 20 minutes on a warm day seems to be enough. 

The Carborundum Gel can also be worked into whilst wet on the plate. We screen printed a large area of gel onto a plate using a screen exposed with a circle
but you could use parcel tape to tape off a square or rectangle. 

Whilst the gel is wet, work into it with brushes and other tools to leave marks.

You can also press textures into the gel. When you’re happy with the plate, leave to dry. 

When the plate is dry, peel off the back sheet of blue film.

Before inking, soak the paper – we’re using Snowdon

Roll a layer of Akua Intalgio Ink onto the plate. 

Use a wad of scrim to polish the plate, removing excess ink from the smooth areas of plastic. Use a piece of cloth or tissue paper to wipe any ink smudges
left on the plastic.

Blot the soaked paper. Place the plate facing up on an etching press with dampened paper on top. Cover with blankets and put through the press on a tight

Ink up your textured plates and print in the same way. 

Your plates can be washed up with a little water. If you want to reuse your plate for a new image, we have found that the gel can be gently removed with
white spirit or Zest-It (these kind of plates are therefore not suitable for printing with traditional oil based inks that require solvents for clean

To print your own Carborundum Gel plates you will need: