How to prepare black and white artwork with halftone for 1 color screen printing using free GIMP software?

In this blog post I will show you how to prepare your black and white artwork which has halftone elements in it for 1 color screen printing. Technically the artwork has 2 colors (white and gray, because of halftone), but we can make it 1 color, but still look like it has 2 when printed. That’s where halftones come in.

I want to show how to do it with GIMP (that’s the software I am using), free Photoshop alternative, because as we all know Photoshop is expensive and now with it’s subscription payment model you have to pay for it every month, forever! I don’t want to do that for sure and I advise you to not do that too unless you are making big money from your art already ;). Also, please forget cracked Photoshop software, okay, it’s 2020 :). First having cracked software is illegal, second it might come with malicious software which will be installed on your computer, and you won’t even know it. Finally, if you are running a business of any kind I would not risk it with cracked software.

So let’s begin.

  1. Open your artwork in GIMP(Download it here for free).
  2. Select Image->Mode->Indexed… and choose black and white (1-bit) palette. Then again Image->Mode->Grayscale. That way we get rid of all the colors just leave black and white. Later we convert the image to grayscale to allow us to draw gray tones.
  3. Then color your text gray in the new layer with blend mode multiply. Now we can transform gray elements to halftone, to make it white, but look like a gray.

  4. Merge your layers and press Filters->Distort->Newsprint. Leave everything default, just choose Pattern and turn off Anti-aliasing to avoid creating various different shades of grey. You can choose any Pattern that you want. I like PSSquare the best and it seems to be the most similar to Photoshop’s halftones. Then press ok.

  5. Then convert your artwork to Indexed colors just like in the step 2 just to be sure that there is only black and white and no different shades of grey in between.

  6. Finally, we can delete the white background (because the black t-shirt itself will act as a black background). Choose Select->By color and click on the black background, wait for the GIMP to select it and press delete.

  7. As you can see the text still looks grey, but it is white actually and if you zoom in you will see. After that you can export your print ready .PNG file for 1 color screen printing.

Let me know if this is helpful and if you have any questions in the comments down below!

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