Kieth Stevens of International Coatings explains how you can elevate your prints by adding texture

Adding texture to a print can elevate it from a ‘good’ print to a ‘great’ print, believes Kieth Stevens of screen printing ink manufacturer International Coatings.

“Texture adds a tactical distinction that is hard to match with digital or direct-to-garment prints,” he adds.

There are a number of ways texture can be achieved thanks to special effects inks such as puff, suede, glitter/shimmer, gel, and high density (HD) inks. “Contrary to popular belief, special effects inks are easy to use. However, they do require a bit of prep in emulsion thickness and appropriate mesh size.”

As part of the International Coatings display for this year’s tradeshow booth, the team chose this ‘Catwoman’ image.

“It’s not the way she is usually depicted in movies or cartoons, but a bit more modern, with a steampunk influence. This image allowed us to add some textural elements to the print for an extra ‘wow’ effect.”

To add texture to the print, they experimented with a mixture of HD clear and clear glitter base. “We chose the ‘clear’ path to showcase all the details and vibrancy of the colours as well as the shading and nuances of the original image.”


(1) We experimented with AI software and the images we generated were beyond what we expected. Choosing an image was hard, but for this application, we narrowed down the choice to Catwoman

(2) The art was separated using halftone 55lpi at 300dpi. The film was printed using an Epson Sure Color T7200 printer. The areas in a caramel colour mark where the special effects inks will be placed

(3) We used International Coatings’ UltraMix Color Mixing System for the main print. We mixed and matched seven PMS colours using our online formulation tool at

(4) The ink seen here is PMS 7712C for the helmet. The colours were printed through Murakami’s Smartmesh 250-40 mesh screens at 22-23 newtons using Newman Roller Frames. All colours were printed wet-on-wet with a flash before the special effects print application

(5) This composite image shows the print progression as each colour was added. We used an M&R Sportsman E 10-colour machine to print this design on our favourite white Cotton Heritage enzyme-washed ringspun shirts (MC1082). The fabric has minimal fibrillation and creates a very smooth substrate for our prints

(6) For this print we wanted the height of the special effects ink to be raised quite a bit. To prepare the screen, a 110 mesh screen was covered with a 400 micron Murakami capillary film

(7) To add the texture we mixed HD Clear 141 with Clear Glitter Base 159 (35%/65%) over parts of the helmet and goggles. The print sequence for the SFX screen is two passes–flash – four passes. It’s important to note that we adjusted the pressure down (less pressure) after the flash. We love using the clear to showcase the nuances and shading of the underlying print

(8) It was cured at 182°C/360°F for one minute using an M&R Mini Sprint International dryer. The temperature was set higher on purpose to allow the gel and HD inks to dome nicely