Tips, Tricks & Ideas For Extending Ink Resources

September 22, 2021

Tree printed using 3 Fluorescent colors and black
Colorful tree print detail shows the various colors created from using only fluorescent yellow, fluorescent magenta and fluorescent blue. Black was added for the trunk and branches

Your customer is asking for a multi-color design, but your ink supplier informs you that there are limited stocks of inks available. How can you meet your customer’s needs with the ink you have or can get? Here are some tips, tricks, and ideas.

First, manage your customer's expectations! Be up front about what materials are available and the current marketplace supply challenges you (and everyone) are facing. Give them a realistic turn-around time for their order to be completed.

Offer suggestions regarding design and colors:

  • Most ink suppliers have black and white inks. By using halftone designs, the color of the underlying shirt can be put to good use to create a subtle two-tone effect.


  • Consider using a "Split Fountain," a technique that is trending now. Apply two or more ink colors directly onto the screen and have the colors blend during printing. Each print will be unique.


  • Print the design using a clear ink to create a slightly darker tone of the underlying shirt color.


  • Create a full-color design using process or fluorescent colors. Regular process colors yield more natural tones, whereas fluorescent colors result in colors that pop. For the colorful tree design above, we used fluorescent colors instead of 4-process colors. Of course, either type of ink will work.


  • Offer distressed type designs and use soft-hand bases or reducers – a great way to extend ink.


  • Now is the time to use leftover special effects inks as well. Pick a small portion of the design to add a bit of glitter, puff, or HD to make the print stand out.

Experiment with what you have and have fun trying different techniques. You might be surprised what you can come up with!