Screen printing. This process offers quality, versatility, and above all durability to printed t-shirt designs. Blackwater Studios screen print with water based inks exclusively. Water based inks have good environmental credentials, and produce a high quality non plastic finish.

We have created easy to use T shirt printing deals. These are designed to make ordering your customised T-shirts as simple, and as clear as possible, prices include VAT & delivery. Our minimum order for screen printed T-shirts is 25.

Greenhouse by Carla McRae

Perks of Screen Printing

High Quality Waterbased Printing Close Up by Thomas Hedger

Print Quality

The screen printing process is still unrivaled in terms of print quality. Be it spot colours, special effect inks, or photographic reproduction. It offers wash fastness, a soft hand, and consistent results across larger orders.

Volume

Bulk Orders:larger high volume orders are very well suited to screen printing. It becomes progressively cheaper the more T-shirts you are printing. Our minimum order for screen print is 25 items. We also have T-shirt printing deals for ease of ordering.

Serpiente by Christian Castañeda
Hoodoo Tiger by Bene Rohlmann

Flexibility

Variety of Finishes: One big limitation of the digital process is there is only one way to apply the ink. There are a wide range of special effect inks and finishes which can be screen printed, and a variety of ways in which they can be applied.

See how it works.

Take a look at our screen printers in action, customising t shirts with water based inks. The organic T-shirts are from continental.

How do I place an order?

The easiest way to place an order is to get a quote via our enquiry form.
It’s free and we will generally respond within 24 hours.

Choosing Inks and Screenprint Styles

Waterbased Inks

We’ve specialised in waterbased inks for many years. All of our inks are waterbased and no plastisol (plastic) inks are used or even held on premises. Waterbased inks are very soft to the touch once washed and are the most environmentally friendly option. The prints themselves are also likely to outlast the t shirt itself. Below are the main types of waterbased ink we use.

Greenhouse by Carla McRae

Standard

This is the most cost effective setup. When printing dark inks onto lighter t shirts, there is no need to add an additional print colour (underbase) to the cost. Where the ink colours will not be altered by the t shirt colour, for example white, ecru, and pastels.

Used on white or light garments with darker inks. No underbase or discharge required.

Serpiente print by Christian Castañeda

Discharge Ink

With discharge printing, the original dye of the shirt is bleached out. This leaves you with the softest print achievable on dark colors. The discharge process is used on black, and dark coloured garments, in combination with waterbased inks.

Used on dark or coloured garments. Soft as the t shirt after first wash.

Opaque Ink

Opaque Ink

Where very bright print colours or garments that cannot be discharged are required, opaque inks are our water based printing alternative for coloured t shirts. True whites and vivid flourescent colours across all colour ways, but not quite as soft as discharge.

Generally used on dark or coloured garments that cannot be bleached or when bright colours are required.

If you’d like to see and feel a physical example, you can buy a sample from our Store, which will be posted Next Day.

Visit our Sample Store
Waterbased Screen Printing Inks

Discharge or Opaque?

Another way to consider it – is your priority to have prints that are the softest to the hand (discharge), or prints that are bright (opaque)?

We personally recommend/prefer going with discharge. This our first choice when screen printing 100% cotton T-shirts. A very soft hand. These inks are also the best choice for full color photographic screenprints. However, there are caveats to discharge, which are outlined further down.

However, if you require bright vivid colours (that will rival any plastisol print) on dark shirts, opaque waterbased inks are the way to go (they’re just not quite as soft to the hand as discharge prints).

Non or Partially Dischargeable T Shirts

There are certain types of garment colours and fiber compositions that discharge process won’t work well with, or at all. In these instances, the t shirt colour itself will show through the inks (more so with lighter inks). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and is really dependent on your requirements and/or intended look (perhaps a vintage vibe).

Below are some common colours that cannot be fully discharged:

  • Kelly Green
  • Sapphire
  • Royal Blue
  • Purple

If you require non-dischargeable t shirts and specific ink colours, we will recommend using opaque waterbased inks instead of discharge. If you also require the softness of discharge inks, then we will recommend changing the t shirts to products that are more suitable.

Note: Discharge works best on 100% cotton garments. For other fabric compositions, it’s a good idea to get in touch with complete details of your requirements so that we can offer guidance.

Discharge Screen Printing - White Ink on Different Garment Colours

Very few printers in the UK will match our vibrant wash fast screen prints. Many will claim bright multicolour discharge prints are not possible.

Screen Printing Metallic Silver Ink - Design by Engin Oztekin

Special Inks

We offer a number of special effect inks for those who want add a little extra flare to their designs. Examples of this include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Metallic Inks
  • Glow in the Dark
  • Reflective Ink

The range of special ink options that we can offer are generally dependent on what your artwork and garment requirements are. This is because some effects / combinations are just not practical. If there is a particular effect you are looking for, get in touch. We can offer advice on what is possible and what could be changed to make it work.

Why No Plastisol Inks?

We no longer use these inks in any circumstance, due to their negative effect on the environment. There are now very good water based alternatives which can achieve the same look and feel as plastic inks. This includes true whites and vivid fluorescent colours across all colourways, which can be printed using opaque water based inks. Take a look at our organic t shirt printing page, for more information on measures we take with our printing and business.

What is Underbasing?

In order to keep your printed colours looking bright on dark shirts, we may use an underbase screen with your design. An underbase is generally your entire design screenprinted with white ink as a base layer, then the other colours are printed on top. Only one underbase is required per design, regardless of the number of colours in that design.

Underbases aren’t always required. For example with discharge prints, the colours themselves may be ‘discharged’ – if it’s considered to be a more sensible / less wasteful use of ink. Whether it’s an underbase or just discharge that is required, this will be factored into the cost as a single additional print colour where appropriate.

White Screen Print Underbased on One Side, Illustration by Ivo Matic.

Left: No Underbase/Discharge | Right: Using an Underbase/Discharge