Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Art 1- Screen Print Project- A+

With our first unit of drawing now complete, we are now moving on to our second unit: printmaking. Our first project in printmaking was screen printmaking, a technique that requires knife-cutting skills, knowing how to use printmaking ink and a brayer, and finally actual screen printing skills. For this project, we created two prints, the first a positive of our image silhouette, and the second a negative image of our silhouette.

Part I: Printing Background

The materials used for creating the print background were as follows: apron, printing ink, palette knives, small ink cups brayer, rectangular plastic inking surface, rubber and plastic ink removing tools, brushes, print roller, rectangular paper border, permanent marker, and printing paper.

Screen printing involves spreading ink across a screen onto a desired flat surface, however before we began this process, we were to create a background on our choice of flat surface: printing paper. In printmaking, the concepts of negative and positive space are very important since there is no "outlining" of shapes and silhouettes until the embellishment stage. That is why for our printmaking background, we focused on creating negative spaces by taking away ink in desired places.

After wearing an apron, the first step was to decide what colors of ink to use. Using plastic palette knives, we scooped preferred colors of ink into small ink cups and then transferred them onto the rectangular plastic inking surface. We then used the brayer to roll the ink all over the plastic until the entire surface was covered in ink. If you wanted, you could use more than one color and create different gradients of color. The trick here was to use just enough ink to cover the plastic, but not too much that the ink stood up in a clumped texture. Then, we could use different ink removing tools like the rubber-tipped tool and the flat plastic zig-zag edged tool to create negative spaced designs into the ink. Mr. Laurence encouraged us to be abstract, so I used the rubber-tipped tool and just ran it along the inked surface to create a random-looking shape.

When we were finished inking and creating negative space with different tools (you could also use a dry brush to make smear designs), we headed on over to the print roller with a piece of printing paper and a rectangular paper border. At one end of the roller, you place your plastic inking surface facing upwards, and then place the paper border around to create a frame. Finally, you set your printing paper on top of all of that. This is followed by putting the heavyweight cloth on top of your print and rolling it through the print roller. The reason why it was so important to not have any ink "standing up" was because the print roller would just flatten it across your paper. When your print is going through the roller, the ink is slowly being pressed across your printing paper. Once on the other side, you can then lift the heavy cloth away and peel back your printing paper with the newly printed ink on it.

Once our first printed background was completed, we could then proceed to a second or even third print. I wanted to have all of my three backgrounds (I created an extra just in case) a different color, so my first one was mostly orange, my second one was purple with shades of pink and red, and my last one was a gradient of hot pink to light pink. After rolling all three through the roller, we placed them on the drying rack so that they would by dry by the next class.

In creating the print background, one of my biggest challenges were mixing the ink on the plastic with a brayer and allowing my negative designs who up on the print. Using a brayer instead of a paintbrush to blend colors proved very difficult for me since I wasn't used to it. At first, I really wanted to create a nice blend of colors that were blended but still remained a little distinct. However, I found that the brayer usually just blended all the colors together into one. It was really hard to create a background that I visualized since the brayer seemed to have a mind of its own. After looking around at how other students in my class were dealing with this issue, I discovered that if you didn't roll too many times, you could allow your colors to mildly blend without overpowering each other.

The second issue I faced was getting my negative spaced designs to show up on the printing paper after it went through the roller. My first two prints turned out well, but the designs on my last print didn't even show up at all. I had used the plastic tool to create wave designs all across the plastic surface, but once it went through the roller, they were only visible in one patch on the bottom right corner. Although I never got to solve this problem, I realized that the designs I made were too thin, and that next time, I should make them thicker. Despite this, the final backgrounds of all three prints turned out pretty well because the color combinations I chose really looked pleasing to the eye.

Part II: Screen Printing

The materials used for screen printing were as follows: apron, plastic printing film, black permanent marker, cutting knife, cutting board, Baymax reference photos, paper envelope, fine mesh screen, rectangular paper border, printing ink, small ink cups, palette knives, inking squeegee, and background prints (the ones made in part one).

For part two of this project, we didn't use the printing roller anymore. Instead, we were to do things manually with a fine mesh screen, printing ink, and a large inking squeegee. First off, however, we had to choose what silhouette to print. As an avid Big Hero 6 fan, my printing silhouette of choice was Baymax. Using reference photos of Baymax on my computer, I created a sketch using a black permanent marker onto the plastic printing film. Then, with a cutting knife and a cutting board underneath, proceeded to cut out this outline.

It was very important to keep everything that you cut out since we were going to make both a negative and positive print. We learned that, to cut more successfully, it was best to cut towards yourself with the blade at a 45ยบ angle. This way, more of the sharp cutting surface area would touch the plastic, making it easier and smoother to cut. For me, I cut out the outline of Baymax first, and then cut out the details inside the outline later.

Since it took an entire class for me to cut out Baymax, I had to keep the smaller plastic pieces inside a paper envelope to prevent them from getting lost. Actually, I had already lost one of my smaller pieces, so to solve this, I simply outlined the piece onto the edge of my plastic film and cut another piece out. As the plastic film was larger than the printing background, I wouldn't have to worry about the additional cutout from showing up.

The next step was to put on an apron and choose either the negative or positive cutout and place it onto one of the background prints. I chose to do use the positive cutout of Baymax to print first, and I chose to use the complimenting color green on my orange background. Since my cutout was positive, my resulting print would be negative. Using palette knives to, once again, scoop the desired color into small ink cups, I then placed the fine mesh screen over my background print, Baymax cutout, and paper border frame.

Next, I placed blobs of ink across the top of the mesh screen and used the squeegee to spread the ink down and across the entire mesh screen. While doing this, Mr. Laurence reminded us that we had to keep one hand on the screen to prevent it from moving. It was also dire that we put enough pressure on the ink to spread it. If, after the first sweep down, there were still spots with no ink, all we had to do was place blobs of ink there are squeegee it around again.

After the entire screen had been squeegeed with ink, we pulled them up and peeled back any remaining pieces of plastic. Despite already covering the entire screen with ink however, there was still one patch on Baymax's right arm that wasn't covered with ink. Since I had already removed the screen and plastic however, I simply took a paintbrush and painted over that area with the same colored ink. Then, we simply put it back onto the drying rack. The print was a negative print, so this meant that the green ink I put on would fill in the space surrounding Baymax's silhouette.

This process was then repeated twice (since I had one more extra print), except this time, using the negative pieces of plastic cutout to create a positive print. This one was be harder since there were more loose pieces of plastic. All I had to do different however, was position these pieces on the background and then carefully press the mesh screen on top to keep them in place.

For my second and third prints, I chose to use white ink. The surprising thing however, was that once I lifted the mesh screen and lifted away the plastic pieces with a cutting knife, you could still see my background showing through the white ink. At first, I thought this was because I didn't put enough white ink. But after realizing everyone else who used white found the same results, I came to the conclusion that, because white was a more translucent ink color, the stronger colors behind it would show through. Although this was unexpected, I quite liked the result. Especially after it dried, you could still see the designs I made with negative space showing through the white-turned-pink ink.

The final step was to embellish our prints with designs of our choice. We could use anything we wanted, whether it be markers, paint, or colored pencils. I chose to simply outline all three Baymaxes with permanent marker, and then embellished them with lines, swirls, or stars.

Some challenges I faced during the screen printing process included getting all the exposed background spaces squeegeed with ink. The first time, it was an easy fix with that paintbrush, but the second time, it was a bit more difficult. This was because I was using white ink, and there was a caky concentration of it in one area, so when I painted over it, it created a textured patch that stood out. I asked Mr. Laurence what I could do, and he suggested that I use a sponge tool to lightly dab at the excess white paint. This worked, so when a similar problem arose in the next print (also with white paint), I used the same "fixing" technique.

Additionally, I had some very small pieces of plastic when creating the positive print. After I lifted my screen, I didn't know how to lift those pieces without smearing the ink any further. I contemplated just letting it dry like that and then taking it off later, but Mr. Laurence recommended I use a cutting knife to lift it. Since the cutting knife had a precise edge, I was able to successfully lift and dispose of those plastic pieces without smearing any ink.

Print #1: Negative print, green ink on orange, yellow, and silver background. Embellished and outlined with orange sharpie marker. 
*Note: the star on the lower left was painted in, but since that would've taken too long, I later chose to continue with sharpie marker only*

Print #2: Positive print, white ink on purple, pink, and red background. Outlined with black sharpie marker.
*Note: I chose not to embellish this one since it would have distracted the eye from the already-prominent swirl designs*

Print #3: Positive print, white ink on pink gradient background. Embellished and outlined with black sharpie.

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