What is Gradient Screen Printing?
min read

What is Gradient Screen Printing?

We explained what it is and how it adds depth and perception to your screen printed apparel.

You stumbled across this article because you're probably thinking- what the heck is gradient screen printing? (Also known as halftone or color blending screen printing.) How is it different? 

Well, guess what? We’re here to help you learn all about it.

In the world of screen printing, numerous techniques bring creativity to life. Gradient screen printing is one such technique that has gained popularity among artists, designers, and printing enthusiasts. 

This innovative method reproduces continuous-tone images, complex gradients, and vibrant color transitions. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of gradient screen printing, exploring what it is and the artistic possibilities it unlocks.

We’ve been screen printing since '09 with water-based ink, which is awesome because it is durable, good-looking, AND eco-friendly. We know a thing or two about gradient screen printing, and we’re excited to share our industry knowledge with you. 

Ready to rock? *insert “rock on” symbol here* 

*By rock, we mean learn about gradient screen printing. Heavy metal music playing in the background is optional.

An Overview Of Gradient Screen Printing

Gradient screen printing, also known as halftone or color blending screen printing, is a specialized process that goes beyond the traditional boundaries of solid colors in screen printing. It allows for reproducing smooth color gradients and continuous-tone images, creating prints with depth, complexity, and visual appeal.

In case you didn’t know, screen printing is a method where ink is pushed through a mesh screen onto a substrate (such as a custom t-shirt) to create a desired image or design. 

Unlike traditional screen printing, which relies on solid ink blocks or stencils, gradient screen printing employs a halftone pattern. This pattern breaks down the continuous-tone image into tiny dots or lines of varying size and density. Different shades, tones, and gradients are achieved by manipulating the size and thickness of these dots or lines.

The Process

A halftone image is prepared using specialized software or techniques to embark on a gradient screen printing journey. This image, consisting of the halftone pattern, is transferred onto a screen with a fine mesh. The screen is coated with a photosensitive emulsion and exposed to UV light through the halftone image, creating a stencil with tiny holes corresponding to the dots or lines in the pattern.

Once the screen is prepared, it is carefully positioned on the substrate to be printed. Ink is applied to the screen, and a squeegee spreads the ink across the stencil. As the squeegee moves across the screen, it forces the ink through the holes in the stencil and onto the substrate, creating the desired gradient effect.

Artistic Possibilities

Gradient screen printing opens up a world of artistic possibilities. Its ability to reproduce intricate gradients and continuous-tone images makes it ideal for replicating photographs, complex illustrations, and multicolored designs. Artists and designers can experiment with various dot sizes, densities, and angles to achieve different visual effects, creating unique and visually captivating prints.

Furthermore, gradient screen printing allows for color blending, enabling artists to merge different ink colors to create smooth transitions seamlessly. By overlapping different halftone patterns or utilizing the "wet-on-wet" technique, where colors are printed while the previous color is still wet, stunning blends and gradients can be achieved, adding depth and richness to the final print.


The applications of gradient screen printing are vast and diverse. From apparel printing, where vibrant gradients can enhance clothing designs, to promotional items that demand eye-catching visuals, this technique offers endless possibilities. Posters, art prints, and other forms of visual communication also benefit from gradient screen printing, as it adds depth and sophistication to the artwork.

black shirt with blue to purple printing

Have we “wowed” you yet?

Gradient screen printing is a captivating technique that elevates the art of printing to new heights. Its ability to reproduce gradients and continuous-tone images uniquely brings depth, complexity, and visual appeal to prints.

By experimenting with halftone patterns, dot sizes, densities, and color blending, artists and designers can unlock a new realm of creativity. So, embrace the possibilities of gradient screen printing and let your imagination soar as you create prints that mesmerize and captivate viewers with their stunning visual impact.

Let us reintroduce ourselves. Real Thread has been in the custom apparel business for over a decade, and we’ve brought so many amazing designs to life via gradient screen printing.

We don't expect "wow" to happen by accident; instead, we know it results from intentional work and high standards. We are unwilling to accept from ourselves and each other anything other than an excellent customer experience, excellent execution, and an excellent product.

Contact our team if you want to dive deeper into specifics regarding bringing your gradient screen printing designs to life. They're pros with this stuff and want to ensure you have a 6-Star Experience.

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