Underbase or No Underbase?
ARTWORK & DESIGN
YOUR ARTWORK DILEMMA: The color of the garment to be screen printed can impact the ink colors used to create the design. In some cases, an underbase may be needed if the colors are to appear accurately. In other cases, and with other colors, it may not be necessary. How can a printer tell when an underbase is needed and when it’s unnecessary?
Solve This Dilemma: Knowing which colors generally require an underbase is key to solving this dilemma. Think of printing an underbase in the same way you would think about painting a lighter color on a wall that’s covered in dark paint. If you put the light paint directly over the dark paint, the dark paint will likely impact the color of the lighter topcoat. The same thing happens in screen printing. Any dark-colored garments, specifically those not considered pastel, would need a white underbase for the top inks to show in the correct colors. If a garment is any color other than white or a pastel, an underbase is a necessary part of the screen-printing process.
1) Gray may be a special case when it comes to determining whether an underbase is needed. In most cases, garments that are ash or heather gray may not need an underbase. Be aware that the darker flecks in these shirts may show through the ink, and the gray may dull down the colors of the ink a bit. Darker grays, like charcoal gray, will need an underbase. To be sure, it’s best to do a test print.
2) Colors like white, cream, baby blue, light pink and other very light pastel colors most likely won’t need an underbase. Again, if there’s any uncertainty about whether or not an underbase is needed, do a test print without an underbase and see if the results are satisfactory.
3) Be aware of the specific type of garment that you’re printing. Doublelined hoodies can be printed with one color and no underbase. The extra layer of fabric will make proper fastening to the press difficult. If printing on a double-lined hoodie, your artwork should be single color.
4) A softer print may be achieved by leaving off the underbase, but you should talk with your client about this when you’re initially planning the print. Certain inks may have enough opacity to achieve a soft or vintage look without an underbase, but this won’t happen if it hasn’t been included in the production specs. There are also certain inks that simply will not show up on a shirt without an underbase. If the goal is a soft print, the correct inks must be used to achieve a true color design without an underbase.
5) Customers may ask why their design has two colors and they’re being charged for three. Make sure all sales, customer service and art staff can explain what an underbase is and why it’s used.
Watch “Learn How to Screen Print T-Shirts” to see how to screen print T-shirts with a white underbase. This video gives a step-by-step demonstration of the process. Watch at http://bit.ly/1ROozMw.