How to Create Screen Printing Effect in Illustrator


Have you ever heard of “Silk Screen Printing”?
Even if you don’t know about this, you must know the artist “Andy Warhol”.
The technique used in his works is called “Silk Screen Printing”.
Just like this.
In this article, I will explain how to add a silk screen printing effect to your images and illustrations.


First of all, here is a simple illustration about silk screen printing.
Illustration about silk screen printing
To summarize it simply, Screen printing works by placing a sheet with some holes on top of another sheet and spreading ink on the top, and then it is printed on the underneath sheet.

1. Embed Image in Illustrator

In this case, I’m using this woman’s image.
*Layer “Woman”
Woman's image
Lock the layer “Woman” and create a “New Layer” on top of it.
New Layer

2. Trace the face and body parts with the Pen Tool

Select a new layer and trace the face and body parts roughly. In this case, I traced face, eyes, lips, teeth, hair, and background.
*Layer “Trace”
After tracing, unlock layer “Woman” and hide “Trace”.
Layer after tracing

3. Convert to black and white

With “Woman” selected, choose [Effect] > [Sketch] > [Torn Edges].
Torn Edges
In this case, I set [Image Balance: 20], [Smoothness: 15] and [Contrast: 18] in the dialog box.
Torn Edges options
As a result, you can see that the image is in black and white tones.
Apply the Torn Edges
Adjust the value of [Torn Edges] to match your image.

4. Apply the “Color Halftone”

Next, apply [Color Halftone].
With “Woman” selected, choose [Effect] > [Pixelate] > [Color Halftone].
Color Halftone window
In this case, I set [Max Radius:10px][Channel 1:100][Channel 2:160][Channel 3:90][Channel 4:45] in the [Color Halftone] window.
Color Halftone window
As a result, you will see Halftone dots.
Image with Color Halftone applied
You need to adjust the [Max Radius] depending on the image.

5. Convert image to Grayscale

Next, with “Woman” selected, choose [Object] > [Expand Appearance].
Expand Appearance
Then, go to [Edit] > [Edit Colors] > [Convert to Grayscale].
Convert to Grayscale
Here’s the result.
Convert to Grayscale

6. Change the order of layers and the Blending mode

Switch the order of the “Woman” and “Trace” layers.
Switch the order of layers
Then, select the image and set the Blending mode to [Multiply] in the [Transparency Panel].

7. Add [Fill] to the “Trace” layer

Set the traced area of Layer [Trace] to [Stroke: None] and add [Fill].
Traced area
Hiding “Woman” makes it easier to work.
Change the fill and then show “Woman”.
Image with fill
We are almost there.
Finally, select ” Woman” and change the fill of the grayscale image to the color of your choice.
Final image


Final image

How was it?
We were able to create an artistic effect without any complicated steps!
How about giving it a try?

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