DIY printing job for postcards
October 18, 2010 3:49 PM   Subscribe

I want to print a series of postcards, and my aim is to have them at least look kinda hand-made. (I don't really want to go through the whole process of learning screenprinting.)

There are several dozen images, and I want to print a dozen or two of each. Is there a cool way to do this myself? Barring that, is there a certain type of paper/ink/process I can seek out from a printer to give them a sort of DIY look? The images are low-resolution and I think if they had a reduced color or alternative/cheap ink they would look rad.

Additionally, is there a shop you'd recommend in Chicago?

(These are funny/artsy images to be used on postcards to send to friends, for gifts, and possibly for sale in craft stores.)
posted by ism to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How intricate/detailed are the images? You could carve it into a linoleum or rubber print block (available at any art store, Blick is likely the cheapest), ink up, and make as many copies as you want. We successfully did it in art class in middle school (and my class was full of morons), so there's not much of a learning curve as long as you're able to carve it into your block.
posted by phunniemee at 3:55 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

This might not work if you want colors, but I love the look of acetone transfers (they look sort of like rubber stamps or rough newsprint - and you can add color yourself if you're comfortable going over the image with watercolors or something).

You can use it to reproduce anything printed out by a laserjet printer or a copy machine (though you'll probably want to use a fresh copy for each).
posted by bubukaba at 3:55 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

bubukaba's suggestion is a good one. I used acetone transfer for a couple of projects back in high school--it's really easy and produces really neat results. Just keep in mind everything will transfer in reverse and it has to be printed with toner. It's a great idea.
posted by phunniemee at 4:00 PM on October 18, 2010

Would it be inappropriate to say that basic screenprinting is not that difficult? Certainly easier than linoleum printing, IME. Also much less easy to injure oneself (no sharp chisels/gouges needed to carve the block).

When we did it, we got one of these kits (would link to the Speedball website, but it's Flash — ptui). Finding enough room to hang things up to dry without smearing, once they'd been printed, was the most challenging part of the process.
posted by Lexica at 4:30 PM on October 18, 2010

thanks for the answers so far, keep 'em coming. these all sound cool. i'm also interested in just certain types of paper, ink and finish (?) that i could specify if i get them printed at a professional printer too.

they're digital images with at least a few colors necessary. basically they're lo-res video stills. so i don't think screen/block techniques would work too well unless i drastically simplified the images (which, maybe i'll look into). the print block/stamp idea had occurred to me too... maybe i should try reducing a few of the images down into something that would be doable on that level. acetone is a nice look too. i could hand-paint a select few colors onto them.
posted by ism at 5:06 PM on October 18, 2010

If you can separate any of them into two or more layers (like in Photoshop), very slightly offsetting the layers will give something a hand-printed look.
posted by interrobang at 5:44 PM on October 18, 2010

You can use photoshop to seperate them into a few layers, then upload those images to a stampmaker, and have them mail you back rubber stamps for each layer, then you use those to print your cards.

Or, you could cut out stencils from card and use spray paint - similar to screen-printing, but lower quality, so it will emphasis the hand-made aspect.

Or, you could print onto recycled card using a home or office printer, then cut one of them up to make the inverse of stencils, put that shape between a card an a flat surface and rub it to fake the imprint of a press.

If you don't have a home printer, and it's not a big run, depending on how much time you have at hand, it might be more effective to buy a color inkjet and mess around with it yourself, as that way you can play with cardstock and colour until you get the look you're after.

Or a mix of the above.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:41 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you are only doing a dozen of the design then do screen printing, but don't bother with the whole photo emulsion and exposing part. I agree that basic screen printing is easy, but exposing a screen is not something most people get right the first couple of times.

Cut your stencil by hand, tape it to the bottom of a screen, and squeegee your way through a couple of prints.
posted by bradbane at 7:18 PM on October 18, 2010

thanks, all! i will probably try a few different things.
posted by ism at 8:41 AM on October 19, 2010

How about printing them out on a color printer, at home or Kinkos and then tracing over the black lines by hand with a black marker or pencil?
posted by sarajane at 1:40 PM on October 19, 2010

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