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In this detailed tutorial you will learn how to plan, create and prepare a vector image and make a two color Gocco Print. If you've ever wanted to take your vector illustration further, or own a Print Gocco and want to know the best way to use it with a Vector Illustration, then this is the perfect tutorial for you!
Step 1: The Idea
Start off by finding your idea. I know I want to make a print with a pretty lady in it, with lots of hair, so I start by sketching lots of thumbnails to decide my layout. Next, you can sketch our idea out in more detail. I make several different sketches, one for every element of my image. The sketches don't have to be precise as you wont be using them to create line work, just as guidelines for our artwork.
Step 2: Finalizing your Design
I now have a sketch with branches and leaves, a sketch with her head, and another sketch with more elaborate hair curls and swirls. Scan in all the parts of your image and layer them together in Photoshop in a new file the size of your Print Gocco (mine is a PG-5, which can print at 105mm x147mm) save your file as a Tiff.
Step 3: Creating the Vector Artwork
Open a file of the same size in Illustrator. Choose File > Place and then select the Tiff. you have just saved. Tick the 'Template' checkbox at the bottom left. This means that you can use the Control + Y shortcut to show Outlines and still see our template image. Next use the Pen Tool (P) to create your vector artwork by tracing the shapes made by the sketch. Try to use as few anchor points as possible, and put them on the straightest parts of your paths, not on the curliest.
Step 4: Compound Paths
I have created shapes within the hair for this part of the image. I want these parts to be 'holes' in the ink when I print my screen, so I need to make them 'holes' in the hair in Illustrator.
Do this by selecting the hair, and then selecting all the shapes, or holes, in the hair. With all that selected, right click on the canvas and select Make Compound path from the drop-down menu. If some of your shapes are still black, rather than being a hole in the hair, open the Attributes tab and make sure that 'Use Even - Odd Fill Rule' is selected. This means that rather than having a solid shape pretending to be a gap in the hair, you actually have a gap in the hair, so that when you prepare the image for print by turning everything to black, the gap will persist.
Step 5: Colors
Once you have created all the shapes needed for the image using the Pen Tool it's time to decide how many colors you want to use, and on which parts of the image. Make a small palette of colors by drawing a few squares above the top of your design. Make each one a different color based on the card and inks that you have, and that you think will work you'll with the image. Use the Eyedropper tool ( I ) to apply these colors to the image until you have a look that will work for your print. Remember to limit your colors to roughly the amount of screens you want to use.
Step 6: Separation
As a Gocco print is pressed and not pulled, you can use more than one color on each screen, so long as there is a big enough gap to put a foam separator between each color If there isn't a big enough gap, then you need to use a second screen for the second color, and so on. I decide here that I want the girl and the branches to be all one color, and the leaves to be orange and white, so I select all the shapes that make up the girl and the branches and press Control + G to group them together. Then I do the same for the leaves.
Step 7: Ready for Print
To know where to cut the image once it is printed out you need a guideline. So first you draw a rectangle the size of our document (105mm x 147mm for a PG-5 Print Gocco). Give it a black stroke of 0.25pts, and tick the Dashed Line checkbox, with the dash being 2pts.
Next select your girl and branches group, together with the dashed line that you've just created, copy it, and then paste it beside your original image outside of the Artboard. We need to change this from the colors you you're playing with earlier into black now, so it can print properly.
Use the Compound Path technique discussed earlier to make sure that any 'holes' in the shapes are see-through, and are not filled in black. Add the dashed rectangle to the group and then repeat for what will be our second screen, the leaves. Select both of these groups, copy, create a new A4 document in Illustrator then paste them both in, and arrange them in the middle of the page.
Step 8: Make your Printout
You now have an A4 document in Illustrator with two black images, one for each of our screens. To transfer the image you have made to the Print Gocco screens you need a carbon print out. This means either a laser jet printout or a photocopy of an inkjet printout. If you have a black and white laser jet printer then all you need to do is print it out. If you do not, print it out on an inkjet printer and then make a photocopy. Once printed, cut out each image along the dotted lines you created to surround them.
Step 9: Gather your Materials
We're now ready to turn start working with the Gocco. The first thing you need to do is pick out the card and inks you are going to use. You should have a good idea based on the color image you made in Illustrator earlier, but it's always best to test out the inks on the card first, as the colors can vary from those shown on the packaging, and when they dry on colored card. Also make sure you have two B6 Hi-Mesh Master screens, a blue filter, four flash bulbs (these should come with your Gocco Kit and can be bought from various online stores) and plenty of space to dry your prints in!
Step 10: Expose the Screen
Place a spare piece of card on the sticky pad in the center of the Print Gocco. Line it up with the sides of the pad, then place the first image from your printout ontop of it. This makes for a nice even transfer of your image into the screen. Place your blue filter on top of the screen, on the side that has the plastic flap that you can lift. Slide both into the Print Gocco making sure the blue filter is on the top. Screw the flash bulbs into the flash lid, then slot it into the top making sure it clicks down.
Next, press down firmly on the end of the Print Gocco bringing the contacts together. This is what makes the flash bulbs go off and exposes the screen.
WARNING: The flash is extremely bright. Do not look at the Print Gocco when you do this stage!
Open up your Print Gocco and remove the screen. The printout image may be stuck to the screen, if so, gently peel it off. Remove the flash lid and put to one side. Do not touch the bulbs! They'll be super hot and need to cool down.
Step 11: Add your Ink
Place the screen on a table with the printout lined up underneath it. This will make it nice and easy to see where to put the inks. You may want to add some scrap paper underneath to make sure you don't get any ink on your table. Peel back the film on the top of the screen. Take the color ink that you have chosen to fill this segment of your image, and squeeze a layer of it over all the places where your image is. It will spread out when you press it, so don't worry about being too thorough or accurate.
Step 12: Test
Take the ink loaded screen and slide it back into the Print Gocco. Take your printout once more and place it on the sticky pad in the middle and then press down the Gocco lid again. Lift up and your image will be printed onto the printout. There may be gaps that your ink has not filled, if so, remove the screen and touch up the missing spots with more ink. Keep testing until you're satisfied that you're making a nice smooth mark on the paper.
Step 13: Printing
Take your stack of art card and start printing for real. I find it best to keep a your area and a dry area to prevent inky mishaps, so keep your unprinted art cards on the left, your tubes of ink and test materials on the right, and put your printed cards into a drying rack out of the way.
If your sticky pad has too much grip you may find the card bends as you peel it off, in which case put a square of paper in the middle of the pad, with your art card on top of that to lessen its grip. If you find the sticky pad doesn't have enough hold, a quick clean should restore its grip.
Step 14: Keep it Consistent
After about 20 or so prints you might notice gaps in your ink again, at which point you will need to fill in the gaps with ink again. Keep printing for as long as you like, or until you run out of cards or drying space! If you want to keep the screen to use again, you can put the screen with the ink still on into a freezer bag and store it in the freezer.
Step 15: The Next Screen
The prints that you've made should only take about 30 minutes to dry. Check that they're nearly dry, and then expose the second screen in the same way as you exposed the first. Next, add the inks as before. I've decided that I want the leaves to be more than one color, but also that I don't want to separate the inks on the screen. This means that some of the inks might bleed into the others, and some leaves might not be the color originally intended. However, in this instance, the effect is desirable.
Step 16: The Second Layer
Once you're certain they're dry, take your art cards with the first image printed onto them and lay them onto the sticky pad as before. This time when you bring down the screen you'll print a second layer on top of the first and when you raise it again you get to see your completed design. Hopefully this came out just right, but if it might be slightly out of alignment.
Step 17: Registration
Some larger Print Goccos have registration tools, however if you're using a PG-5 like me you will have to rely on using your eye. If your pieces of card line up exactly with the edges of the sticky pad in the center of your Print Gocco you can use it to work out exactly how much to nudge your piece of card left, right, up or down to get the alignment exactly correct, by eye. In an image like this one, however, it doesn't matter too much how precisely the leaves land, and adds to making each print unique.
Continue printing and topping up any ink until all the cards are done. Leave them to dry for around 30 minutes, and then you have your very own edition of handmade Gocco prints.