We spoke to Sergey Buzanov of A-Design to discover how he created the FESPA Gold Award-winning Jim Morrison T-shirt print using MagnaColours’ MagnaPrint Discharge Bases
As expected, the 2015 FESPA Awards showcased a wealth of creative, and perfectly executed, screen prints across a wide variety of competition categories. The Best in Show Award was presented to TS Visuals for its entry in the Metal & Wood Products category. However, for us the standout entry has to be A-Design’s Jim Morrison T-shirt print, the Gold Award winner in Category 9 – Special Effect Garment Printing.
The FESPA Awards judges were similarly impressed by the creativity and technical excellence of the print. Hwie-Bing Kwee comments: “There are 3D-like elements that are very accurately printed. The almost photographic-like reproduction in garment printing is amazing. I personally like the black and white reproduction that gives it a poster-like look. The design is fitting for a T-shirt – sometimes there are designs that you cannot wear as a T-shirt.”
Jacek Stencel was also convinced by the technical quality of the printing. “What I remember about this print is that it is perfect in reproduction and printing. Technically, it is a very good screen print design,” he says.
Fellow judge, Josep Tobell adds, “We valued the use of thin half-tone, the high quality of the reproduction, the difficulty to prepare a selection of colours that would work well on black and, above all, the mixing of a screen printing ink with metallic effects.”
A-Design’s applications specialist, Sergey Buzanov printed the Morrison tee. We spoke to Sergey with the help of the company’s English-speaking sales director, Evgenia Skvortsova, to learn how he produced the award-winning entry.
Sergey reports that the Morrison artwork was specially created by Alexander Martynenko to both harness and illustrate the capabilities and potential of MagnaColour’s discharge inks and activator base. The design was inspired by imagery from The Doors – both the band and the eponymous movie. The foundation of the artwork is photographer Joel Brodsky’s iconic ‘The American Poet’ image of the self-styled Lizard King, which has been composited with ornamental lizard graphics and a background of halftone dots.
Separating the art
Nadezhda Martynenko separated the art into five colours, including the transfer bond used for the dots, which were finished with red foil. The separations were made by hand in Photoshop – no dedicated separation software was used – and were run out on an Epson T3000, with Nazdar- Lyson 55 Series Black inks and pigment inkjet film by Ulano.
The first four separations employ an elliptical dot at 90 lpi with an angle of 82.5 degrees and were used to produce stencils on 120T (305) mesh. This combination resulted in the “almost photographic-like reproduction” referred to by judge Hwie-Bing Kwee.
Commenting on the screens, Sergey notes that “The MagnaPrint inks allow you to output separations at high resolution and use high mesh counts to reproduce fine detail and subtle gradations of shading and tone.”
The fifth separation was run out as a solid area to create a stencil on 43T (110) mesh. This was used for printing the adhesive for the areas of foil.
Sergey printed the following ink formulations:
Colour # 1 MagnaPrint Discharge Base AB AW + 2% Activator AB
Colour # 2 MagnaPrint Discharge Base AB AW + 4% Activator AB
Colour # 3 MagnaPrint Discharge White AB AW + 6% Activator AB
Colour # 4 MagnaPrint Discharge Base AB AW + 6% Red HB + 6% Activator AB
MagnaPrint Discharge Base AB AW is a clear (transparent) discharge base that has been developed to give strong, bright shades. MagnaPrint Discharge White AB AW is a semi-white discharge base that is used to discharge the fabric dye to reproduce bright highlight areas.
The Discharge Bases are mixed with MagnaPrint Activator AB, and MagnaPrint Eco Pigments (as required). The optimal amount of Activator AB to use with the Discharge Base is 6%; however, by mixing various formulations, each using different amounts of activator, Sergey was able to discharge (remove) controlled amounts of the fabric’s dye in specific areas of the design. Printing the various base/activator formulations wet-on-wet he was able to build up the subtle gradations of tone that are the signature feature of this largely monochromatic print.
The devil’s in the details…
“By using different amounts of activator I was able to create different shades of grey and also control the handle of the print: using less activator and no pigment gives you a softer feel and more subtle effect,” Sergey explains.
He continues: “The first colour used 2% activator in the base and works like an underbase, giving a dark grey. We then printed the base containing 4% activator on top to create areas of lighter grey. The white discharge base was mixed with the standard 6% activator to give the highlighted white areas. Then we printed the discharge base with 6% activator and 6% red pigment to produce the areas of colour on the torso and background.”
Sergey printed the designs on an M&R Chameleon manual carousel, using a rectangular profile squeegee (hardness – 70° shore), with 3 mm off-contact and using a single stroke. “It is important to use high pressure to push the ink into the fabric. This can be difficult to maintain when printing on manual equipment: reducing the speed of the squeegee stroke can help,” Sergey comments. He adds that printing on an automatic press would have been easier and allows close control over the squeegee pressure and stroke speed for maximum consistency. He also mentions that it was important, as with any water-based ink, to flood the screen immediately after he have made a print.
Having printed the four discharge base formulations, Sergey flash cured the print before printing the MagnaPrintTransfer Bond 40 adhesive through the fifth screen. Then the prints were cured for 2 minutes at 150°C, and finally heat pressed with the red foil.
According to Sergey, the Morrison design is relatively straightforward to print, provided you are using a suitable fabric/shirt. “It doesn’t matter how much activator you are adding, the main thing is that the shirt’s fabric is dischargeable. Also, that the shirts are consistent – if there are dye or fabric differences between different lots you’ll notice variations in the shades on the print,” he advises.
Tom Abbey, managing director of MagnaColours, comments: “The team at MagnaColours was absolutely delighted that the FESPA judges chose Sergey’s Jim Morrison print as the Gold Award Winner for Special Effect Printing. The MagnaPrint Discharge ABAW system is one of our best selling product ranges throughout the world and is known for its bright, soft hand discharge colours. By slightly modifying the application techniques and careful selection of artwork, Sergey was able to demonstrate just how versatile the product is and the great results that can be achieved.”
“There are 3D-like elements that are very accurately printed. The almost photographiclike reproduction in garment printing is amazing”
“It is perfect in reproduction and printing. Technically, it is a very good screen print design.”
A-Design is a young and growing company, based in Moscow, Russia, whose employees have years of experience in the printing industry. The company supplies screen printing consumables to the Russian market, working with major manufacturers of inks and chemicals for screen printing from Europe and America, including MagnaColours. In a well-equipped laboratory, A-Design’s technical application specialists constantly conduct tests and experiments to consistently improve their knowledge of the screen printing process and print techniques.
Established in 1978, MagnaColours manufactures environmentally aware water-based printing inks. Working with major international brands and retailers, its MagnaPrint range is known throughout the world as a leader in water-based technology. Having always been a water-based company, MagnaColours has never used PVC or phthalates. Its MagnaPrint product range is free from PVC, phthalates, APEO, and formaldehyde; heavy metal limits are in accordance with BSEN71 and the products are certified to Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Class 1.