The Complexities of Ink: Trapping

At Red Brick Clothing Company, we have dedicated our lives to the pursuit of perfect pictures. We are experts at arranging the elements you give us into an ideal logo. You can be sure our NH and MA products are uniform. How do we do it?

Screen printing typically requires one screen per color (there are extra special machines that can do two or more, but we’ll set those aside for our purposes today). Basically, we create a stencil that blocks some ink from hitting the fabric which means we need a separate shape for each color. (For more information, see our blog post here). Then we print colors on top of other colors. The easiest way to do this is called the “Knockout” which is leaving a hole for the second color to fill up.

Photo Credit: Smashing Magazine

Photo Credit: Smashing Magazine

The problem with this Knockout method is that if the screens are not perfectly calibrated or if the fabric shifts a little, you risk misregistration like this:

Misregistered A

So, other methods were developed to protect from misregistration. Two common printing methods can be seen above. The first, Trapping, is when the colors are made to overlap. When the bottom overlaps the top color, it’s called a Choke. When the top overlaps the bottom, it’s called a Spread. Which method is chosen depends on whether we’re printing a light object on a dark background or vise-versus. Another way of printing is called Overlapping where the top object is simply overlaid on a background with no knockout. This has the benefit of no mixed colors on the edges, but the top figure may be darker than wanted. Here’s another way of looking at things:


Photo credit: VectorArt

Screen printers choose which method to use based on their experience with the different kinds of ink and fabric. For instance, some inks bleed more than others while some inks are more opaque than others and can be layered without mixing.

At Red Brick Clothing Company, we will work with you to make sure your customized screen printings are clean and precise. We strive for excellence in every area just as you do. Contact us for a quote or with any questions you might have.


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