What are half-tones in screen printing?

The term half-tones in screen printing refers to a printing technique in which the solid color being printed is reduced to a percentage less than 100%. In doing so, it creates a printed dot effect that appears to be a different color than the original 100% version of that color. The printed color becomes a lighter shade of the of the original color.

This may sound confusing at first, but it is actually pretty straightforward. For example, the color red reduced to half-tones would appear pink at a distance when looking at the print. If the color were magnified or viewed from a very close distance then it would actually be apparent that it is the original red but printed in a dot pattern that gives the appearance of pink from a distance.

You may be wondering what application half-tones have and why people would want to do them instead of just printing the color normally. Half-tones can be a great technique to use to accomplish shading or accents on a design without adding another printed color to the cost of the project. Thus essentially half-tones are a way to get more colors in your design without raising the cost.

The important thing to keep in mind with half-tones is that they are lighter version of another darker version of the same color. Obviously it would be impossible to do yellow half-tones of blue for example. Instead light blue would be a half-tone of dark blue. Another thing to keep in mind is that despite the name, half-tones aren’t necessarily 50% of the original color. They can actually be any percentage of the original color.

Half-tones offer a great way to add colors to the design without adding cost; however, they do have their limitations. Half-tones aren't as exact a science as regular printed colors so it can be a little bit more difficult to predict the results and they may not be quite as consistent. Some designs, for various reasons, also just aren't good candidates for half-tones. If you think your design might benefit from half-tones we are happy to take a look at it for you to try to determine that.

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