Screen Printing on a Canvas | 9 Easy Steps (2024)

Can you screen print on a canvas? Yes, you can! Screen printing is a great way to create custom artwork or designs on canvas. It’s simple to do and can be a fun activity for your creative friends. 

The process for screen printing on canvas is similar to that for other substrates like nylon and hats, but there are some differences to keep in mind. Canvas is a thicker and more absorbent material than paper or fabric, so the ink may need to be modified to ensure good coverage and adhesion. 

The tension of the canvas needs to be adjusted to fix the stencil in place during the printing process. Overall, it is doable but needs a bit more attention to detail to have a good outcome. This article will show you how to screen print on a canvas step-by-step.

How to screen Print on Canvas

Step 1: Arrange the Following Supplies

Here is a list of some of the supplies that may be required for screen printing on canvas;

Canvas: This is the blank that you will be printing on. You can purchase a pre-stretched canvas or stretch your own from the nearby store.

Ink: You will need screen printing ink that is suitable for use on canvas. Canvas is typically more absorbent than other substrates, so you may need to use ink with a higher viscosity or add a retarder to slow the drying time.

Screens: These are the stencils used to create the design on the canvas. The screens are made of a mesh material, with the stencil on top of the mesh.

Squeegee: It is the tool to push the ink through the stencil and onto the canvas.

Ink spatulas or Scoops: It is used to scoop the ink and transfer it to the screen.

Emulsion remover or dehazer : It is used to remove the stencil film or photo emulsion after the print.

Lightbox or UV exposure unit: It is used to expose the stencil onto the screen before the print.

Spray adhesive or stencil tape: used to hold the stencil film or photo emulsion on the screen.

Cleaning solution: used to clean the screens, squeegees, and other tools after the print

Pallet knives or spatulas: used to smooth out the ink on the screen or to clean off the ink from the screen

Scissors or blade: used to cut stencil film or photo emulsion.

Exposure calculator or light meter: used to measure the light intensity during the stencil exposure process.

Note that these are the basic supplies; some more advanced or specialized processes may require additional materials or equipment.

Read more: Screen Printing on wood

Step 2: Prepare Your Screen

Once you have arranged all the necessary supplies, it’s time to prepare your screen. To do this, you must attach the screen-printing mesh to the screen-printing frame. Then stretch the mesh tightly and evenly across the frame.

Step 3: Create Your Design

Now, it’s time to create your design. You can do this by using any online software such as Canva pro or adobe Photoshop. Then transfer it to the screen by printing the design paper. Once your design is transferred to the screen, it’s time to set up your screen-printing station.

Step 4: Set Up Your Screen-Printing Station

To set up your screen printing station, you will need to position the screens on a flat surface, ensuring they are level and secure. Next, you will need to place your canvas directly underneath the screen, ensuring it is in the exact spot you want your design to appear.

Step 5: Apply the Ink

Once your station is set up, you’re ready to apply the ink. To do this, you will need to use your screen printing squeegee to spread the ink across the mesh of your screen. 

It’s essential to apply the ink evenly and in a single, continuous motion to ensure a quality print.

Step 6: Print the Design

Once the ink has been evenly applied, you can begin to print your design onto the canvas. To do this, you will need to place the screen directly on top of the canvas and then pull the squeegee across the mesh firmly and continuously.

Step 7: Clean Up

When your design has been screen printed onto the canvas, it’s time to clean up your screen printing station. Now, carefully remove the screen from the canvas and clean up any excess ink that may have been left behind.

Step 8: Repeat the Process for Additional Colors

Repeat the process for each color in the design, cleaning the screen and adjusting the stencil alignment between each print.

Step 9: Finish the Print

once you finish all the colors, inspect the print and make any necessary adjustments. The canvas print is now ready to be displayed or sold.

With these seven simple steps, you can easily create custom screen-printed canvas art. Screen printing is an easy and affordable way to add a personal touch to any artwork. So go ahead and get creative and have fun with this unique and innovative technique!

Can You Screen Print on Canvas Bags?

Yes, it is possible to screen print on canvas bags. Canvas bags are a popular substrate for screen printing because they are durable, versatile, and have a similar texture to canvas. The process for screen printing on canvas bags is identical to that for canvas but with a few additional considerations.

Size and shape of the bag: size and shape of the bag may impact the alignment of the stencil and overall design.

Seams and edges: The seams and advantages of the bag may need to be masked off or covered to prevent ink from bleeding onto unwanted areas.

Ink: The ink used for canvas bags should be suitable for fabric use and flexible and durable.

Cure: The ink should be cured properly to make it resistant to wear and tear, fading, or cracking.

Cleaning the bag: It is essential to clean the bag before printing, as any dirt or dust on the bag can affect the quality of the print.

Overall, screen printing on canvas bags is more complex than on flat canvas, but you can achieve great results with the right equipment, techniques, and attention to detail.

Quick Tips For Screen Printing On Canvas

Here are some suggestions for screen printing on canvas:

Use the correct ink: Use an ink suitable for use on canvas. Canvas is typically more absorbent than other substrates, so you may need to use ink with a higher viscosity or add a retarder to slow the drying time.

Use a high-quality stencil: Use a high-quality stencil that is appropriately registered and aligned to ensure that the design is printed accurately.

Use a good quality squeegee: Use a good quality squeegee that is the right size and shape for your design and has a sharp edge for a clean print.

Dry the ink thoroughly: Allow the ink to dry completely before removing the stencil. This can be done by using a heat press or letting it dry naturally.

Clean the screen between colors: Clean the screen between colors to remove any remaining ink or stencil residue and to prevent any unwanted stains from mixing.

Use a test print: Make a test print on scrap canvas before starting on the final piece to ensure that the colors, registration, and overall design look good.

Protect the print: Once the print is done, apply a clear coat or sealant to protect it and make it resistant to fading or cracking.

Following these tips can achieve high-quality, professional prints on canvas.


screen printing on canvas is a popular and versatile method that allows for the creation of high-quality, professional-looking prints. The process involves creating a stencil, applying ink to the stencil, and using a squeegee to push the ink through the stencil and onto the canvas. 

It’s essential to use suitable ink and stencil and to take the necessary steps to properly align and register the design. Drying the ink thoroughly and cleaning the screen between colors is vital. 

With a bit of practice and proper experimentation, screen printing on canvas can be a fun and rewarding business.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best ink to use for screen printing on canvas?

Indigo ink.
It is suitable for canvas as it doesn’t fade or crack with time. Such Water-based inks are a popular choice because they are easy to clean up and are less toxic than solvent-based inks.

What type of stencil should I use for screen printing on canvas?

For screen printing on canvas, you can use the hand-cut stencil. They will help to ensure that your design is printed accurately.

How do I prepare the canvas for screen printing?

Clean it thoroughly.
Before screen printing on canvas, it is essential to clean the canvas to remove any dust or debris. You may also need to stretch the canvas to eliminate wrinkles or other imperfections.

How do I cure the ink on canvas?

Let the canvas dry naturally.
To cure the ink on the canvas, you can use a heat press or let the canvas dry naturally. It’s essential to allow the ink to dry completely before removing the stencil.

Can I use a textile spray adhesive to hold the stencil in place?

Yes, you can use a textile spray adhesive to hold the stencil in place while screen printing on canvas. This helps ensure that the stencil stays in place and that the design is printed accurately.

What are the most common mistakes when screen printing on canvas?

Some of the most common mistakes when screen printing on canvas include using the wrong type of ink, misalignment of the stencil, not allowing the ink to dry completely, and not cleaning the screen between colors.

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