Your logo consists of 3 colors, yet you’re being charged for a 4-color screen printing job. What? Why? Are decorating companies trying to pull a fast one on you? Though at first you may think otherwise, the answer is, no they are not.
You may be wondering, what and where is that fourth color coming from? That mysterious fourth color is actually what decorating manufacturers call an under base, white under base, or a flash. An under base is a necessary technique used in the screen printing industry.
An easy comparison to make about the purpose of under base ink is to that of painting a wall. If you have a dark colored wall and you want to paint another color over it, you must first paint the wall white so that the color you are looking for will show. Once the white paint (ink) is layered over the dark wall (garment), any color can be placed over the under base.
The base is usually white ink that is used on dark colored t-shirts for designs or logos that call for bright, vibrant colors. Though white is the most common color when dealing with an under base, it isn’t the only option. Depending on the color that the customer is looking for, decorating companies will use various colors as an under base. For example, a pink under base may be used when trying to achieve a skin tone look and grays are often used for printing on polyester fabrics.
It’s important to note that not every design or logo that is printed on a dark colored t-shirt needs an under base. It depends on how the customer wants the end product to look. It is possible to print red over a black t-shirt, however, the red will not be bright, but in some cases that is exactly the way that the customer wants the design to look!
Certain ink colors are more transparent and require an under base on mid-tone colored shirt. For example, when using royal blue ink, if an under base is not used, the shirt color will change the tone of the ink. Some inks are more opaque and don’t require the use of white under bases on mid-tone shirts. Pinks, for example, print perfectly fine on a gold shirt color with no white below.
Talk to your screen printer on how they use white under bases and see if they can avoid it for any of the colors in the design you wish to print. If you are flexible with the exact pantone color, you may be able to get a much nicer feeling print with only a minor change to your design.