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How to: Converting an image to screenprintable CMYK layers

November 1, 2012

I’ve been looking all over for a way to use Gimp to turn photos into CMYK layers that i could then use to screenprint. There’s supposed to be this program called Separate+, but for whatever reason i can’t get it to work on my computer. So i finally found this post, and it saved the day. I’ve been playing around with it a bit, to make it more appropriate for my screenprinting needs, but all in all it’s a lifesaver.

Before you Decompose the image, run it through the Newsprint filter: Filters -> Distorts -> Newsprint. Change the Cell Size so that it’s appropriate for your mesh count. Since this is most likely for printing onto paper, the mesh count is likely around 200, so you can probably get away with a cell size of 4 or 5. Make sure the Screen, Separate to: is set at CMYK, and bring Black pullout (%) all the way down to 0. Below are tabs that say Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. The pre-programmed settings are almost fine, except that you’ll want to set Black to 45 so that they read C = 15, M = 75, Y = 0 and K = 45. And finally increase Oversample to 2. Hit Ok, and proceed to Decompose.

After the 7th point, after you Color to Alpha, go to Colors -> Threshold, just to make sure that each layer is pure black without any grays. The settings should be fine how they are, so just hit Ok.

The final steps of coloring each layer is also not strictly necessary, since we’ll want to print them out in black anyway, but you might find it useful to go through the exercise to see what you can expect in the final results. It may also help you decide what order to print the colors in. The usual practice is to print lighter colors first, but that may not always ring true. Yellow, then Cyan, then Pink and Black may work for most projects, but try it out for yourself. Make sure to add a white layer in the background to give you the truest impression of how the final will turn out.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 24, 2014 12:52

    Thank you so much for this!!! You and the Reinvigorated Programer found this solution for 4 colour printing without Photoshop!! That is AWESOME

    • April 24, 2014 13:48

      🙂 you’re welcome, lemme know how it turns out!

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