How to Make a Negative Image for Silk Screening

By Chris Moore

Updated September 22, 2017

Items you will need

  • Graphic image software

  • Ink/laser printer

  • Transparent sheets

  • Silk screen

  • Emulsion solution

  • Brush or printing block

One of the more common methods of creating a silk-screen stencil is through negative images. The image is printed on a transparent sheet and placed on the wet emulsion so only the uncovered emulsion dries, creating the stencil. Most computers with image software and a printer can create these images. Please note that a negative image will be made of solid monochrome patterns meant for one color. If you are planning to print other details or colors, you must make another image for another screen.

Open your art or graphic design program on your computer.

Insert one or more transparency sheets into the loading tray of your printer. You need an inkjet or laser printer to print on these sheets.

Open or import the image you want to print on the negative onto through your graphic program. Find the location on your computer the file is saved onto using the window that opens and click the "Open" button.

Convert the image to black and white -- this can vary depending on the exact program you are using. If you are using Photoshop, an easy way is to go to the "Image" menu, select "Adjustments" and click on "Desaturate."

Go to the "Print" command -- located in the "File" menu on most programs -- and print out the black-and-white image on the transparency.

Spread your emulsion solution onto the silk screen with a brush, squeegee-style tool or rubber printing block and place the negative image over the emulsion. The screen is now ready for exposure to strong or ultraviolet light.