How are Halftones or Gradients Screen printed?

Halftones are used when printing a gradient or realistic image.

For example when printing a black and white realistic image we are able to simulate the tonal changes to create a realistic print. In order to screen print a gradient or tonal change we will need a high resolution jpeg or vector file. Our printer will then automatically assign a halftone or ‘dot’ which will determine how much ink is set down in the areas that have differing colour values.

Take a look at the image below:


As you can see here, the right image is a digital gradient and the left is a close-up of a halftone used to print a gradient. The dot size will vary depending on the richness of the colour, for example as the black fades to grey the dots get smaller and spread further apart.

This is what a gradient can look like once printed:


This is a three colour blended gradient printed using water based ink.


Our printer will automatically apply a halftone to any artwork that is not 100% black, so in order to print a gradient we can simply use a digital gradient (vector file) and our printer will do the rest. We cannot work with supplied bitmap files as our printer may also apply another dot on top of the dot in the bitmap, which will affect the richness of the colour. It is always best to leave any artwork separation or technical settings to us as our team has years of experience prepping artwork for print.


Full colour process printing involves layering cyan, magenta yellow and black. This is the method we use to print some coloured photographic artwork such as the shirts below:


Every colour in these prints is created using a certain percentage and combination of the four process colours. To give you a better look at this process, please see the film file for one of these tees below:

As you can see there are four screens, one for each process colour. The density of halftone dots determines how much of that particular colour is printed, and by layering the screens we are able to achieve a full spectrum of colour.

Using this process we are able to create some great effects and give your artwork depth and photorealism. If you have any questions about this process or aren’t sure if your artwork is what we need, please don’t hesitate to contact our team here.