Today I’ll be taking you behind the scenes of how I created the koi fish silkscreen print. I always start with a pencil drawing for any artwork I create. Sometimes I do several drawings and collage them together in Photoshop to create a final drawing to work from. In this case I did a quick sketch of a koi fish to work from.
Next step is to break your image down into layers that you will print in succession. I didn’t take photos of all these steps, so sorry for the lack of photos. Once you have your layers figured out, you prepare the stencil for your screen. For my first layer I used Mask Ease to create the stencil. Once the screen is prepared, you can prep your other supplies. I cut down my paper as a first step, because at this point your hands are clean, and you don’t want to get your paper dirty. Next you mix your colors for the ink. For this print I made my own ink. I used Acrylic Extender Base (silkscreen ink without the pigment) and Pearl Ex powdered pigments. In the photo you can see my mixed ink.
This is the first layer that I printed. As you can see it is the basic shape of the fish. I will print the linework on the next layer. To get the different colors I put down several blobs of different colored ink on my screen and moved my squeegee around as I flooded the screen. That way the ink mixes together on your screen as you are printing. “Flooding the screen” is the first pass with your squeegee to get the ink into your screen before you pull the print.
Once your first layer is printed, you wash out your screen with water and let it dry. Once it is dry, you can prep your next stencil for the next layer. This layer is the linework. I used the drawing fluid method for this stencil. The blue you see on the screen is the drawing fluid. What you draw with the drawing fluid is what you are going to print (what you see is what you get).
Once the drawing fluid is dry, you flood the rest of the screen with screen filler (the red stuff). To do this I put a line of screen filler at the bottom of the screen and flood it with one stroke of the squeegee, just like I would with ink. I learned it’s important to do it with one stroke, because if you go over spots again, your stencil with fill in with screen filler, and then your stencil won’t work.
Once the screen filler is dry, you rinse out the drawing fluid with water. Then your screen is ready to print with, once it’s dry.
This is the second layer printed. I used blue ink and also mixed in some Pearl Ex pigment into the ink. It’s important to register your layers when you are printing, so everything is lined up. There are a few methods for doing this: one is to tape a piece of acetate down to your printing surface and print onto the acetate. Then you can line up your paper under the acetate print and register it that way. In this case I didn’t do the acetate method, because I tried it in previous projects with my home setup, and it didn’t work out very well. I simply eyeballed my screen position to my paper, and made registration marks with masking tape so I knew where to place my paper. Luckily it worked pretty well in this case.
The last step for this print was to apply the gold leaf. I used composite gold leaf (the real stuff is pricey). It is fairly easy to apply, but a little finicky because the gold leaf is delicate. I used a kit that came with adhesive and the gold leaf. First you apply a thin layer of adhesive with a brush (use a crappy brush, as the glue will ruin it). Let the adhesive dry, it will become tacky as it dries. Once it feels tacky, you can apply the gold leaf. Cut a small piece of gold leaf a little bigger than the area you want to apply it to. Apply it onto the adhesive using a brush to flatten it out. Then brush off the excess gold leaf. It takes a little getting used to using the delicate gold leaf, but I found it fairly easy to apply.
Hope you enjoyed reading about how I created the koi fish silkscreen print. Thanks for reading!
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