Digital Screen Printing Design: Watch and Learn

Do you learn better through watching a demonstration or by reading directions? I fall into the former category, and I suspect many others with an artistic eye do, too.

thermofax screen printing on fabric by margaret applin
Screen-printed pillow, designed on the computer,
by Margaret Applin.

For me, this is particularly true when it comes to working on the computer. I learn faster and retain the information better when I can watch someone go through the steps.

For example, as a novice to the intricacies of Photoshop®, I have been hesitant to use the computer to create designs for my fiber art projects. However, watching Margaret Applin’s video workshop Digital Design for Screen Printing has given me hope that I can succeed.

In her tutorial, Margaret gives an excellent overview of how to make a “brush” in Photoshop Elements that can later be used to create a Thermofax® screen for use in mixed-media and fiber artwork.

Her easy style, focused approach, and clear instructions made following along in my own studio possible.

thermofax screen printing
From digital “brush” to Thermofax screen
print, tutorial by Margaret Applin.

Here are some of her tips for avoiding frustration and confusion while designing:

  • Pay attention to which layer you are on while you make adjustments. You may think you are making a specific adjustment and you don’t see the results you want because you have a different layer selected.
  • Use the “Undo” and “Redo” buttons as you make adjustments to see if you really like the changes you made before continuing.
  • During the design process, if you love a particular result you have created, duplicate it and save it as its own file; then continue working on your main file. That way, if you are unhappy with the results after further manipulation you can go back to the part you especially liked.
  • When you start to build your digital design files, it helps to be very organized. Create a file-naming convention or different folders for your backgrounds, brushes, etc. Before you realize it, you will have collected a number of images that you will be searching through for a design.
  • If you are sure of a design that you want to print out, save it as a duplicate with a new file name (“xxx-final”) and use that smaller file for printing. Save your original design with all of the layers as your “recipe” file.

Digital Design for Screen Printing is now available on Craft Daily, along with scores of other full-length tutorials you can watch anytime, as often as you like, with one low-cost subscription. Try it and see what you can learn by watching.

P.S. Do you learn better by watching, reading, listening, or doing? Or some other way? Let me know in the comments below.

Other topics you may enjoy:


Monoprinting & Screenprinting, Quilting Daily Blog

3 thoughts on “Digital Screen Printing Design: Watch and Learn

  1. I am a frugal crafting kind of gal. This is excellent and I hope that as I learn more, I will become skilled enough to master this. That said, I have to suggest software other than Photoshop. Photoshop is simply too expensive. Why pay more when there is free software out there that does exactly what Photoshop does? Not only that, you cannot share patterns or what have you with Photoshop unless someone else is using it too. The better option, in my opinion, is Gimp. This way, anyone can download it and we all can swap patterns and such.

    There are beaucoups of youtube tutorials for Gimp. Admittedly I’m sure there are just as many for Photoshop, but Gimp is at least free.

    More tips for software (I do graphics a lot):
    * It’s best to make changes on a new layer rather than the same one. This way it’s easier to remove a mistake later on and you can always merge layers later, if you desire.
    * Save your original file in your software’s native file format, so that the layers will remain intact for future use. In photoshop, it’s .psd, in gimp it’s .xcf and in Paintshop Pro it’s .pspimage .
    * When you’re finished and ready to use a particular file, save it in it’s native format (explained above) then make a copy saved as a .png. NEVER save to a .jpg file! Always use .png because it does not lose resolution, unlike the .jpg file. If you want to learn how to work with photos, save those to .png too. I’m not sure why cameras insist on using a “lose-resolution” format but they do.
    * Learn vectoring as well. For drawing your own shapes and such, vectoring is well worth learning because the possibilities are endless. You can also download free vector files online all over the place. Just use your antivirus software to scan them before use. As for learning, Gimp, Paintshop Pro and Photoshop all have basic to lower intermediate vectoring included in their software and each refer to them as the Pen Tool. For the purpose of making shapes, they all three have more than enough capability.

    I’m sure I have more tips but at the moment I can’t think of any. lol! Happy quilting!

  2. Thank you for all the tips on digital screen printing. I definitely like to see a technique being done. Take for instance the rage for making pillowcases a few years ago–the sausage method that covered up the seams for a tiny flap and the contrast piece. I had written directions and just could not figure out what they were talking about so went searching until I found a video that showed me step by step how to finish and turn inside out. As I get older, I find that I cannot always visualize written instructions. a popular e-Website is a perfect example–written instructions only with no visuals. people are so generous with sharing their techniques in video!