Screen prints are generally layered from light to dark. the lightest colour is usually printed first and built up with the darkest layer (the ‘key’ layer) printed last.

But what happens when you print a light colour overtop a dark one? This is one question we get every so often here at the Kid Icarus Print Department. As most colours are not opaque, it’s hard to tell what the outcome will be. Thankfully, as of today we have a visual sample to explain how this works.


The challenge was to take an image created for digital output and turn it into a screen print in the most cost effective way. To the right is the digital image we were working with. It’s a lovely design by Jack Dylan for the City of Craft 2012 spring show. The colours are flat with no gradients or shifts in hue.

The artwork does have quite few blue tones in it, but for the sake of cost we brought down the number of colours to 3. The plan was to set up 2 screens, and print one transparent colour over the other to create a third mid-tone.

However the darkest colour printed over the lighter colour wouldn’t show enough contrast and using halftones to achieve the effect would take away from the flatness of the original artwork.


The films were reworked and we ended up with these 2 layers below:



Check out the final result in the photos below! It was a pretty good compromise. Sorry about the first photo, it’s a little lousy and we’ll replace it when we get a chance.

City-of-Craft-Spring-2012_jack_dylan_poster City-of-Craft-Spring-2012_jack_dylan_close4 City-of-Craft-Spring-2012_jack_dylan_close3