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How To Utilize Special-Effect Screen-Prints

Ordinary screen prints can be eye-catching enough on a garment, but printing with special-effect inks can take your ability to wow the eye to an entirely different level. Whether your pumped-up design features equalizers, glitter, shimmer, glow-in-the-dark elements or a custom print, these special-effect inks offer a variety of decoration choices that can enhance the finished print.

Clear Inks:
A clear ink is exactly what the name implies – an ink that’s clear and devoid of color. Clear inks can be used to create high-resolution graphics with sharp detail. A brittle clear ink will fracture and crack when pressure is applied, creating a distressed look and a worn, rough finish. Clear inks can also be used with metallic pigments and poly flake glitter to add shine and sparkle to a design. Finally, using a clear ink as the final step in a print can improve the print’s durability and wash-fastness, increase glossiness and enhance the print’s aesthetics.

Metallics, Glitter and Shimmer:
Who doesn’t like a little sparkle? Metallics, glitter and shimmer can be used to add sparkle and flash to a screen-printed design for both female and male wearers, creating an eye-catching finished product. Glitter inks work best on dark shirts, where they can really shine, and won’t tarnish when laundered. Shimmer inks contain a fine, shimmering glitter flake that adds a bit of flash to a screen-printed design. A straight metallic screen-print ink can be used to create an opaque, metallic shine effect. If the end goal is to add some sparkle and pizzazz to the finished print, a metallic in some form is the ink of choice.

Special-Application Inks:
Special-application inks allow a decorator to take control and create unique special effects or highlight an image printed with ordinary screen-print inks. This category includes a variety of inks that allow eye-catching effects to be added to the print. One effect can be created using a clear ink that illuminates in UV black light (perfect for secret messages to be revealed at specific times during a promotion or event). Glow-in-the-dark screen-print inks offer the fun of creating a print that shows at its best when the lights are off. Depending on the ink used, the glow may be of long or short duration. Special-application inks could also be called special-effect inks, and are a great way to attract attention while adding visual interest to a design.

It Takes a Good Base:
Creating eye-catching screen-printed special effects, whether it’s a soft hand, or creating a rough, brittle, distressed appearance, requires the right base. The base is what gives the screen-printed design its finished texture, so the choice of base is critical to the appearance of the finished print. Bases can be used to create soft suede or velvet finishes, or combined with other inks to create puff lettering. Texture bases are, as the name implies, all about creating textures that will enhance the appearance of the finished garment.