Digital Artist

How to create a screen print effect in Photoshop

Tips & Tutorials
April Madden

Learn how to create a screen print effect in Photoshop in this tutorial by Sam Brewster

Digital screen print by Sam Brewster

Screen printing has long been a method for creating hundreds of copies of an image, with its earliest examples coming from China around 1,000 years ago. The very fact that it’s cheap and mass-produced led to its popularisation by Andy Warhol. More recently, the imperfect production process has been to its credit, as it means each copy is, in its own way, an original.

To make a screen print you need to block out areas of a mesh to create a negative version of your original design; this determines where the ink will be pushed through. You then use a squeegee to transfer ink through a woven mesh onto whatever surface you like. For each new colour, a new template is needed and by combining several layers of ink, different effects can be achieved. We’re going to show you how to create this effect in Photoshop.

Screen print step 1

Step 1: Make shapes

Scan your drawings and separate the colours to create individual layers for each.


Screen print step 2

Step 2: Add the paper

Put a paper texture in the background and don’t forget to make sure all layers are set to Multiply.

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Screen print step 3

Step 3: Roughen the edge

Use a scanned square of paper to make a frame. Do this before misaligning the layers.


Screen print step 4

Step 4: Texture the print

Add the texture to the layers. As they’re all flat colour you can also play around with the hue to suit.


Screen print step 5

Step 5: Misalign the layers

Move, warp and transform the layers to create the misaligned look or overlap to make new colours.

Check out more of Sam Brewster’s work at his website.

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  • ariyoshi said:

    i would love to try this out!
    just one question though, in step 4 you say add texture to layer, what kind of texture? where from? and how do you ‘add’ this?

  • April Madden said:

    You can download free textures from a variety of sources or get them from the disc which accompanies every issue of Digital Artist. To follow Sam’s method for texturising an illustration, choose a paper texture you want to use – you can get some good free ones from http://www.cgtextures.com/ – open it in Photoshop and go to Select>All. Then go to Edit>Copy and move over to your illustration document. Go to Edit>Paste to put the texture in. Take the texture layer and drag it to the bottom of the layer stack. Set the layers above it to Multiply, and the texture will show through the colour, giving you the look of ink printed on paper.

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