How to Make Large Scale Negatives

How to Make Large Scale Negatives

Bud Bennett

For edge to edge, all-over printed t-shirts, making a full-size negative is the best solution. It's not difficult, but you are going to need a large-format printer.

Silkscreening shops typically have large-format printers to make "film positives" which are very similar to the negatives used with Inkodye. This guide will walk you through how to get your negative printed at a local screen-printing shop.

Supplies

Inkodye ↗
Measuring tape
Adobe Photoshop
Measure

1. Measure

First determine how large your negative should be. We wanted to cover this shirt with a design, so negative we ordered needed to be at least 24” wide and 28” tall.

Find a large image

2. Find a large image

When making large negatives, we recommend using high-resolution image files. This public domain image from the Library of Congress archives is more than large enough at 5483 x 4444 pixels.

Adjust

3. Adjust

First invert and adjust your image. Then, crop and resize to the dimensions for your negative. Working in inches, we resized to 24” tall and 28” wide, with a resolution of 300 pixels per inch. You should work at a high resolution for detailed images.

Export

4. Export

Save your image as a PDF. You never know what software the negative printer will have, so PDF files are a safe choice.

Field trip!

5. Field trip!

Use a service like Yelp to locate a screen printing shop in your area. When calling, ask if they can print “positives” at the size you need. We took the PDF file to our local shop Screen Depot.

TIPS: Your image file will look different than the average silk screen positive, so the person who prints your film may have some questions. These tips should help communicate what you want:

  • Leave the image inverted. You want to print a negative for photographic printing.
  • Do not add halftone dots. You want your image to have smooth gradients. 
  • Do not resize the image. Print the file at actual size, scaled to 100%.
Go big

8. Go big

Using the same process, we made this huge 6' x 8' art print for Lumi HQ. The image was split into three 36” x 72” negatives, printed, and stretched onto a wooden frame.