Monthly Archives: December 2014

Halftones – Take 3

So in an effort to test a few new effects, I have done a new halftone project. These plates were made by Concord Engraving – a platemaker that I’ve started working with with year and am very happy with (they produced the halftone test plates previously for me).

For this project I wanted to try and blend two colors together. Here is a screenshot of the artwork done in pantone spot colors:

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 7.49.15 PM

And below is the process – I line up tight registration using (what else) registration marks. I find lining up too frustrating without them when I’m doing more than two colors because sometimes I’m not entirely sure what they need to look like when the first two colors under the lineart are in alignment (essentially, without the black linework I don’t even KNOW if I’m properly lined up sometimes because I can’t compare exactly how the two under colors need to look together).


So this is how I line up my plates – essentially, I make marks on the paper and on the plate using a ball point pen (seems to work better on the plastic than sharpie) and get the first plate into alignment. I put tape in the negative areas of the plate and stick it down. Then I set/adjust the gauge pins to fit the sheet so that the plate will be as centered on the press as possible and this get the most even impression. Then, remove the plastic backing, set the press to print, and roll it by hand until it deposits on the base. Back it up slowly to pull the tape out of the way, and bam, ready to print.


Then I printed the first color – this was my biggest regret with this project – why wasn’t I smart enough to print this part in yellow instead of orange?! The color blending would have been so much better…


Once I’ve taken a few good impressions on the actual paper I shave off the registration marks with an exacto knife. Be sure to try and cut AWAY from the image on the plate and AWAY from the rollers, should you slip. I often don’t even remove the chase, I just very slowly cut them away. Below you can see the pink plate with the removed registration marks.


Then, onto the next color. To do this I take one of those first few sheets with the registration marks, and seat the second plates registration marks into the first ones. I deposit that plate onto the base the same way, and then adjust the pins if needed to shore up the line up. Often I’m moving the pins hair widths – just the littlest bit at a time. If I see I’m misaligned, I will place the misaligned piece into the pins and hold it down, then I will look at the direction and amount it is off and will keeping the page in place – scoot the pin one way or the other. This is all done by eye, but by placing the piece into the pins I can directly compare the misalignment distance with the adjustment of the pin.


And then the next color gets printed. I once again take a couple impressions with the registration marks and then shave them away and keep printing



Finally, the last color is lined up the same way. You can see I did a few prints with just one color of each of the colors (pink and orange), so I could be positive of the line up with the registration marks



And at last, a lovely bit of tone blending. Because this was just an experiment I used colors right out of the can (Tiger Lily and Rhodamine Red) Why I didn’t use yellow to get a beautiful color blend with good contrast… no idea.


Then some manual scoring on my weird Thrift Store find scoring device, and the cards are done!


Here are a few more detailed pictures:

DSC03208 DSC03207 DSC03209


Edge Painting Videos

I recently did a job for a friend of mine who designed his own invitations. Below are a few progress shots, but even more interesting is that I took some video of the printing process and the edge painting. I narrated it (somewhat awkwardly) with some voice overs after the fact which I hope will be helpful. No one in the letterpress industry seems to want to share the trade secrets, but I’m happy to pass it on. I’m sure many of those trade secrets include tips that work even better than my method, but nonetheless I hope it will help you!

You can find the videos of me printing and edge painting this job in this link:

Corner Detail Edge Side Single IMG_3166 IMG_3167 IMG_3168 IMG_3169