As experienced screen print artists we tend to appreciate artwork that is overly contrasted. By looking at it I know if the lights are open enough to not clog a screen too much, or closed enough to know that it will lay down enough ink to translate the artists original intent. Of course after a while we do this with any piece of art and can look at the Mona Lisa and say “eeeeh… Nice piece but not enough contrast to make it pop”.
If you’re a newbie to screen print artwork but not to graphics itself then you may be thinking “I don’t want to mess up my killer graphic by widening out the contrast”. But as you separate and print that piece soon enough you realize that the screens need the contrast to open up and block off ink to properly re-produce your killer graphic on cotton rather than screen. The production art aspect of screen print artwork is it’s own art form.
Here is a tip to help get some good contrast without having the print itself look too contrasted.
The S Curve.
Applying The S curve is easy and can really help to get highlights and shadows in the right places.
1) From the menu, open the curves in Photoshop by clicking on Image/Adjustments/Curves or in CorelDRAW by clicking on Effects/Curves
2) with the layer (in Photoshop) or object (in CorelDRAW) selected, we’re going to make the curve form an “S” by clicking and dragging in the middle of the diagonal line that goes across the curve box. In the top two thirds of the line, click and drag to the left as to form the top part of the “S”. Drag it about a quarter of the way in. Ultimately you’ll be dragging it a little, a lot whatever works for the individual piece but for now a quarter will do.
3) do the same thing on the bottom (or one third) of the curve line but this time bend it to the right. Again for the purposes of this tutorial, about a quarter.
4) click OK and see what happened. Your image is now more contrasted.
You can also use the contrast tool, the level tool and others to achieve this but the curve tool is the most visual and is very helpful if you just want to notch certain highlights and/or shadows up or down.
I hope that helps!