Better Understanding Screen Printing

There are two more commonly used types of screens in screen printing, permanent screens and temporal screens. The latter is for shorter time periods where there is a single use or a limited number of prints needed whether on paper or clothing. Temporal screens are easy, quick and affordable. Candle wax screens or paper stencil screens are good examples of temporal screens. On the other hand, permanent screens can be used over a very long time period, potentially forever, as long as they are properly stored and cared for in between uses. They can be used for thousands of prints over multiple times. But their preparation compared to temporal is a lot harder, longer and costs more money. Lacquer screens, photographic screens or shellac screens are good examples of permanent screens.

Developing screens for printing

There are a few ways of developing screens for the purpose of printing or silkscreen printing, the three below are paper stencil screens, candle wax or shellac screens and then photographic screens.

Paper stencil screens

The paper and stencil screens are similar in process. The transfer of the final design is moved onto paper which is used as a stencil and the positive areas are cut out of the paper. Then it is attached to the stretched screen using masking tape and allowances are there for ink reservoir purposes. Then it is time for printing.

Lacquer, candle wax, shellac screens

For candle, lacquer and shellac screens the preparation processes are the same. The difference is just the materials the printer uses when coating the screen’s negative areas, being lacquer, molten wax or shellac. Then the final design is moved onto the screen that is stretched out. Using a brush the layers of the chosen material are applied to block out the negative areas of the image or design being printed. Then a test print is performed to look for pinholes, and if any are found they need to be blocked. Then the screen is ready for the printing process. These are economical and durable options for screen printing best used when the designs are bold but simple.

Photographic screens

When you need to prepare a photographic screen for screen printing it uses light to bring out the designs and those light sources can be either artificial or natural. Two of the most common ways used are the sun ie solar energy, and strong fluorescent bulbs. Both methods need a solution of photo emulsion used mixed with a sensitizer. Then whatever light source is being used they then need to go in a dark room to go through the drying process.


Exploring your options when it comes to printing is a good idea as what you want printed and what you are printing will be impacted by the method and your choice of printer. Look for someone with experience, knowledge and good client reviews! There are a lot of printers selling their services so take some time to check them out.