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The MADE Lab team taught a Special FX Series at this year’s Impressions Long Beach show designed around a Faux Appliqué screen print. The class was a huge success, and we got a lot of inquiries after the class for more details on how it was done, so we asked Brian Lessard to help break it down for us.

Finished print on a pallet

We wanted to demonstrate a special effects print using standard mesh, one or two FX inks using up to six colors, and one flash. We created a design that has the look and feel of a stitched appliqué with raised textured using only Puff Additive and Plastisol thinner for specialty inks and standard meshes. We chose these two additives because they can be used for so many different effects, and both are worth always having in your shop.

Inks in containers for the print

Mixed inks with ink knives

We selected 305 mesh for the background image to keep it soft and not compete with the raised faux applique portion of the design. The puff blue texture in the type and puff white stitches use 110 mesh to achieve a heavy deposit and still hold enough detail in the stitches and texture. 180 mesh for the Dark Blue to leave a thinner layer but still fully opaque, and the Chino “Shadow” Black though a 305 to hold all of the halftones and print softly.

Yellow Ink in Screen

Bright Blue ink in Screen

Brighter Blue Ink in Screen

Black ink in Screen

White ink in Screen

We used @ Flexipuff for the blue and white puff. The FlexiPuff can be added to any ink up to 30% and provides decent rise and great durability for puff ink—good height and without flaking off. The background colors (Gold & Grey) have 20% Chino base (plastisol thinner) to help them soak into the shirt and remain soft. The dark blue was made from standard mixing inks, and the Shadow Black was created by adding 20% M3 black to Rutland Chino Base. We like Chino Base because the viscosity is higher than most plastisol thinners, so it’s not too runny; however, any curable reducer can be used to achieve similar results. The mixture creates a subtle, more realistic shadow than using a standard grey or black ink.

Mixing Black ink with Chino

Puff being mixed into white ink

Breaking the print down./ Speed, angle, pressure for each.

The design was created to require only one flash. This allowed us to print the Gold, Grey, Dark Blue, and Puff Blue wet-on-wet before the flash. We used 70/90/70 triple durometer squeegees/10º angle with light pressure for the Gold and Grey to limit the ink deposit, 65/90/65 triple durometer squeegee/10º angle for the Dark Blue with medium pressure, and a 55/90/55 triple durometer squeegee/15º angle for the Puff Blue to maximize the deposit. After a cool-down station, the Shadow Black was printed with a 70/90/70 triple durometer squeegee/10º angle, which allowed us to have more control of the shadow deposit. The Puff White printed last with a 55/90/55 triple squeegee/15º angle to maximize the ink deposit. To maximize the thickness of the puff inks, we used just enough squeegee pressure to clear the mesh and a med to fast squeegee speed. For a heavier deposit, you can also double stroke the puff inks.

Gold Screen

Grey Screen

Blue Screen


Blue Puff Screen

Black Chino Screen

White Puff Screen

The challenge for this design was creating a faux applique design using only six colors and one flash. We also wanted to avoid using capillary film, use standard mesh screens found in most shops, and limit the special effects ink to one or two that are easy to find. To achieve this, we used puff inks through 110 mesh to create the textures and flat screens for everything else. The first puff is used to give the text a texture so it looks chenille or raised fabric. We used puff blue that was a shade or two lighter than the dark blue text and had it only printed on the inner portion of the type, which gives more contrast. The second puff is for the stitches so they will pop off of the shirt. The puff alone looks okay but far from realistic. To pull the design together and give it a realistic look, we added a black shadow to the white stitches, which is the key to making this design work.

Gold Print on Shirt

Gold and Grey print on shirt

Gold Grey Blue print on shirt

Gold Grey Blue Puff print on shirt

Gold Grey Blue Puff and black print on shirt

Gold Grey Blue Puff Black and White Puff print on shirt

Macro of Faux Applique and Stitching

This design can be run on an eight-color automatic or a six-color manual using only one flash. We were even able to use the ROQ YOU 6/8 by running a flash in the unload station and multipoint mode. The great thing about this technique is the background image can be simplified to one color if needed or completely removed, making a four-color design.

Mock-up for Cali Tee

Be sure to check out more advanced classes by #madelab


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