Category Archives: Screenprinting

Screenprinting at home: a beginner’s guide to buying a screen

image of a 90t yellow mesh screen, painted ready for monoprinting
90t yellow mesh screen, painted ready for monoprinting

Screenprinting at home, or in a personal studio, takes a bit of investment so it’s good to do some research, seek advice and make sure you’re spending your hard earned pounds on the right equipment for your requirements.

Buying a screen can be confusing, as there are lots of options to choose from, and lots of opinions about what is best! The right choice for you may not be the same as for somebody else, so think carefully about what you hope to achieve with your printing.

You will need to think about:

  • The surface you want to print on to
  • The inks you want to use
  • The design you want to print

These are all factors in finding the right screen to suit your project, and also your budget.

Screen frame

The first choice you will need to make is the screen itself; what the frame is made from.

The two options are:

  1. Wood
  2. Metal (usually aluminium)

There are pros and cons to both.



  • Cheaper
  • Can be re-stretched by hand, particularly for textile printing


  • Warps over time with constant washing
  • Takes longer to dry
  • Re-stretching by hand can be difficult to do, especially with fine mesh



  • Lasts forever
  • Dries quickly after washing
  • Lightweight
  • Stretched professionally ensures an evenly stretched weave, even with fine mesh
  • Can be re-stretched many times without warping


  • More expensive
  • Can only be re-stretched professionally


Your next decision is your mesh.

We talk about mesh in terms of mesh count: this is the number of threads per centimeter.

For example, a 120t mesh has 120 threads in each direction, per centimeter, meaning it is very fine.

A 43t mesh only has 43 threads per centimeter, meaning it is coarser and therefore the weave is more open.

  • The higher the number, the finer the mesh.
  • The finer the mesh, the more detail you can print.

This diagram shows the difference in mesh counts:

diagram showing different types of screen printing mesh

The wider openings in the lower mesh count allow more ink to be pushed through the screen. This is beneficial when printing onto absorbent surfaces such as t-shirts and tote bags, or when using a thicker substance such as flock adhesive.

The smaller openings in the higher mesh count let less ink through, so that only a thin film of ink sits on the printed surface. This is good for paper so that there is less tendency for it to cockle as it dries.

There are lots of mesh counts to choose from but the most commonly used ones are:

43t – for printing on to textiles, using flock or foil adhesive, or using alternative inks such as conductive, thermochromic and glow in the dark. At LCC we use 43t and also 55t, which is a bit finer.

77t –  the ‘in between’ screen, can be used for printing finer detail on to smooth textiles, or on to heavy paper and card stock. At LCC it is often used for printing on to bookcloth and veneer for skateboards. A good option for home printing, as it gives you flexibility across different surfaces / inks.

90t – for fine detail, printing onto paper, card and other hard surfaces such as acrylic and metal. The most commonly used screens at LCC, and the screen I am using at home.

120t – for very fine detail and fine halftone dots, on paper.

(The ‘t’ after the number is a UK measurement, so be aware that American mesh count is different, if ordering online)

It is also worth noting that the finer the mesh, the more fragile it becomes, and also more expensive!

Mesh colour

image of yellow and white mesh on rolls for screen printing. ©Photo from
Which one, yellow or white mesh? ©photo from

You may have noticed that screens have different coloured mesh on them, usually yellow or white. Which one to choose?

This is to do with the exposure of screens in a UV exposure unit, when using photo emulsion stencils.

Yellow mesh absorbs some of the UV light, and so helps create a sharper and more defined edge to the design.

White mesh can deflect the light slightly, causing it to “bounce” or “scatter” which results in lower resolution and less definition.

However, it is only really noticable on finer mesh counts, normally 77t and above, which is why textile screens often have white mesh, and screens for printing on paper tend to be yellow.

For suppliers please see our links here, and of course do get in touch with any questions!

Featured Graduate: Natasha Howie

Natasha working at home
Natasha working at home

Natasha Howie graduated in 2018 from BA Illustration and Visual Media (IVM). She now works in event production, whilst continuing her illustration practice on the side, which encompasses printmaking, photography, and graphic design.

1.Tell us about yourself.  Have you always made art?

My interest in art started at an early age, learning alongside my older brother. His ability to capture a character through loose sketching and delicate cross hatching fascinated me. Consequently, I have always appreciated work which is both subtle yet dynamic.

In recent years I have also come to really appreciate the immediacy of reportage illustration. Learning how to capture fleeting gesture, expression and the soul of a place / people. Drawing in situ presents unexpected challenges which have provoked me to become more fearless and carefree in my practice.

3 colour screen print on paper 2018
Les Valaisans (05), screen print, 2018

2.  How did you get started in printmaking?

As illustration is now considered quite an ambiguous term, I was fortunate to work alongside a hugely eclectic group of people on my course. Practices ranged from animation, photography, print, poetry and performance. This very quickly encouraged me to explore different approaches to image making and to branch away from the traditional methods of drawing. With the slight tendency to disregard the research and development stages of creative briefs, I found myself always rushing into a final piece. Given this, I was prompted by my wonderful tutor Ima to slow down and try some printmaking. It was the first time I truly became captivated by the beauty of the process and it enabled me to discover multiple ways I could transform my hand drawn visuals. I then spent the best part of my 3 years at LCC exploring various forms of print; relief, intaglio, screen-printing, risograph and letter press.

monoprint and digital image on paper
Night Swim, monoprint / digital

3.  Who are your biggest influences?

I am really interested in Dutch and Russian poster design, in particular work by the Stenberg Brothers and H.N Werkman. I find the use of muted colours, texture and simple linear drawings a very satisfying combination.

A more contemporary artist I recently discovered was Renee Gouin. Her work consists of layered elements, typically very angular in shape and coupled with a minimal colour palette, the resulting work I find captivating.

During University I chose to explore multiple briefs working on the offset monoprint press using hand cut stencils. This method created sharp, abstracted pieces which presented very similar characteristics to the Constructivist movement. This is something I hope to continue to explore when I gain access to another print studio.

linocuts on paper hanging in a drying rack
Behind Closed Doors, linocuts drying at londonprintstudio

4.  Where do you make work now that you’ve graduated? 

After graduating, I continued to make work at LCC Print Club on Saturdays and then once I had gained a new role at londonprintstudio, I used my days off to work in the studio. I spent the majority of my time there exploring linocuts using the Beever Press. I decided to try this method of printing after being very inspired by the work of graphic designer Andrzej Klimowski who I met whilst working there.

Following my time at LPS I started to work within event production and I have since been trying to keep my illustration going as my side hustle. Under the current circumstances I have had to move back to my parents’ place in East Sussex. I have a little desk set up in my bedroom and I am using my time here to work on some commissions and continuing to build up my portfolio. This is a very peculiar time however it has presented a rare opportunity for myself to fully focus on generating some new work, albeit sometimes it is difficult sleeping and working in the same room I feel very lucky to have a space to create.  

5.  Looking back on your time at LCC, what advice would you to yourself, if you could travel back in time?

I would have taken up more opportunities to work on my Adobe and graphic design skills as I do believe this really helps to secure a future career.

I would have also liked to work on more collaborative briefs, such as the Elephant Café Cook Book (which came out so beautifully!). And I wish I had kept an eye out for more competitions set by industry professionals, especially as I had the opportunity to use really valuable facilities.

monoprint and digital image on paper
Mexican Night, monoprint / digital

6.  Where can we see more of your work?  

When I graduated from LCC I took part in the Topolski Artist Residency, work from our final exhibition can be viewed here:@topolskistudio

I was selected to be part of Flock 2018 Graduate Show at Art East Gallery, where I exhibited screen prints from my Les Valaisans series.

I am also in the process of updating my website, and I continue to use Instagram to document my latest work: @natashahowieillustration

Mono Screen Printing

ink painted on a screen

Missing the screen print workshop? I know I am! But don’t worry, there are still ways of working with screen print even without our amazing facilities.

The first method I’m going to show you is mono screenprint.

Mono screenprint is a fun, versatile and spontaneous method of working, leading to some unique creative possibilities by allowing you to work in a playful and gestural way.

Working directly on to the mesh of the screen, it’s possible to paint, sponge, flick, drip and splatter ink, draw with pencils, charcoal and other water-soluble materials, to create unique prints.

overhead image of all equipment and materials required.


  • screen
  • squeegee
  • paper
  • acrylic ink
  • parcel tape or similar
  • ink pots
  • spatulas / spoons
  • brushes
  • sponge
  • water source

Optional, but helpful:

Please see the list of suppliers in the screenprint menu, or get in touch for advice before investing in more expensive items such as screens / squeegees / hinge clamps.

screen with taped border , clamped into place.
screen with taped border, using hinge clamps and board.
  1. Tape a border to create an aperture slightly smaller than your paper size. I have used this white tape but some parcel tapes can be used, such as Scotch 3M and Wilko own brand. I have hinge clamps to keep my screen in position while I print. You could ask a willing housemate to hold it still for you!
using washi tape to mark edges of printing paper
Registration marks using washi tape

2. Position your paper under the screen and mark one corner and one edge, as registration marks. I have used washi tape as the colour makes it easy to see, but you could use masking tape and colour it with a sharpie or similar.

pencil drawing on paper to be used as a guide
rough outline as a guide

3. You could draw a rough outline of the image you want to produce, or even use a photocopy/printout if you need more detail, and place this under the screen.

4. Get your inks ready. Any brand of acrylic will work, but remember you must mix it with at least 50% medium, you can’t use it straight from the tube. There are also ready mixed options available.

Here I have used some empty cake packaging (Thank you Mr.Kipling) as a kind of palette to mix small quantities in. I’ve got a selection of old brushes, sponge, bubble wrap and various other materials to use. Anything that can give you marks and textures is good, but don’t use anything sharp that could damage the screen mesh.

screen propped up
screen propped up away from the paper, using roll of washi tape

5. Prop your screen up slightly so it is not resting directly on the paper or board. I have used my roll of washi tape, but you could use something else.

6. You are ready to start painting!

painted image on the screen with tools
Image painted on the mesh

As acrylic inks dry quite fast so you will need to work fairly quickly. Don’t let the ink dry on the screen! Fill in as much of the mesh as you can. Any empty areas will allow the marks to smudge and drag as you pull the squeegee across. If you want blank areas, just use plain medium to fill in the gaps.

the squeegee positioned ready to print
Medium at the top of the image, ready to print

7. Once you have finished applying the ink, pour some printing medium at the top of the image. Remove the prop (my washi tape) from under the screen to lower it onto the paper. Without flooding the screen, just press down and pull the squeegee towards you to print. Once is enough.

the print on paper being revealed
the print is revealed

8. Lift your screen to reveal the print!

detail of print showing marks and textures
detail of marks and texture

There will now be residue of ink in the mesh, which allows you to print again to create one or two “ghost” prints. These are definitely worth printing as they can be used as a base layer to continue working on top of, with more printed layers, or drawing, or cutting up for collage.

Squeegee positioned to print again
printing the residue with tinted medium

Without flooding the screen, you can either add fresh medium to the top, or as I have done here, scoop up the now tinted medium from the screen and print again.

Scoop up as much ink as you can, and save into a new pot. Don’t throw it away!! It can be used again as a tinted medium, or you could add more acrylic to it to make a new colour.

Now you can choose to wash and dry your screen before starting again, or continue to add more ink.

Here I have carried straight on, using the ghost on the mesh as a rough guide, to create a similar image.

This technique can be used in combination with paper stencils or photo stencils too, or as a base layer for another process. Try drawing with charcoal or graphite sticks on the mesh for more linear work (carefully, don’t press too hard or the mesh might tear!)

For further inspiration, have a look at Katy Binks, Augustine and Bridgland, Charlotte Cornish and Alice Hartley

If you prefer live action, there’s a nice little video by American artist David Manje here .

mixed ink in a pot
Save your ink!