Introduction: Make Giant Negatives for Lumi-printed Tees

About: We're Lumi, a team based in LA making it easier than ever to order custom made goods. We believe getting things manufactured doesn't have to be hard and we love supporting independent artists and business owne…

Would you like to cover a t-shirt with a printed image? Do you dream of making giant art prints with Inkodye? It's easy, but you’re going to need a large format negative. This guide will walk you through the easiest way to make a giant negative- by ordering one at a silk screen shop.

Silk screen printing shops that make their own silk screens typically have large transparency printers. These transparencies, called “positives,” need to be dark enough to block light, making them perfect for printing with Inkodye.

Step 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.

Step 2:

When making large negatives, you need to work with a very large image file. This public domain image from the Library of Congress archives is perfect- 5483 x 4444 pixels.

Step 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.

Step 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.

Step 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.

Step 6: Tips

Your image file will look different than the average silk screen positive, so the person who prints your transparency 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%.

Step 7: Print the Negative

Screen Depot printed the negative for $20 + tax. Some shops may even make your negative while you wait.

Step 8: Gather

Return home and gather your t-shirt, Inkodye, and huge negative. It’s time to print!

Step 9: Print

Follow the steps to tape, coat, expose, and reveal your new design! If you’re new to the Inkodye process, our guide to Printing T-Shirts with Inkodye will get you up and running.

Step 10: Wash

Take a moment to admire your work, then use Inkowash to rinse out any undeveloped dye, otherwise your image will continue to develop in the sunlight. We recommend washing twice, especially if using regular detergent.

Step 11: Wear

This shirt has never looked better! The design is big and bold, but still soft and comfy to wear.

Step 12: Innovate!

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