This is Sean. He prints your posters that you buy on Nakatomi. This photo was by Jimmy Kim. I haven’t seen Jimmy in a while. Not quite sure what happened to him. This photo may be a clue.

We haven’t done a process thread in a while, but we thought that on the occasion of printing Josh Budich’s 10 color “Samurai with a Magic Sword” print, we should document it.

We print everything by hand here (for now) at Nakatomi.  No machines here!  Other than Sean there up above.  Possibly.

This is what the finished piece is supposed to look like!  Let’s see if we can hit it!

We’re shooting for an edition of 100 on natural 100lb Cougar paper, and 20 on Curious brand metallic 110lb ‘Ice Silver’ paper. Let’s get going!

 The first two colors Josh had set up on the print were split fountains- meaning a blend in the inks.  A lot of people wonder how ‘Split Fountains’ are printed.  That’s it right there above.  You mix the ink on the actual screen, and squeegie it on to the paper.  It requires the patience of a hunter, the steady hand of an assassin, and the attention to detail you have to have in life to get away with multiple murders.  Sean’s really good at this for some reason.  The split fountain above is just for the TINY part at the top of the print that includes JUST the cherry blossom plants!  Man, Josh is crazy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Here you see the two split fountains printed on a sheet of the natural paper.  Look at that blend!  Josh sends his files in layered Illustrator files, with each color on it’s own layer. I have my guys add the color notes and Pantone numbers in the crop area so that there’s no questions as to what color gets printed with what screen.  It also helps in case more than one person is working on a print job, so that all the info carries over to the next guy. Sean usually works on a job alone though. Always alone.  Watching.

Here’s Sean setting up to “burn” a screen. What you see in the bottom left of the picture is our home-made exposure unit.  On it, you see the actual ‘film’ of the color separation.  That particular one is for the 1st split fountain. We burn our screens for about 12 minutes and get really nice results.  Don’t worry- the screens don’t scream when you burn them.  Not like some things.  Ha ha.

Speaking of burning- Flesh is the next color down!  You’ll see in the picture above that the flesh color is on the belly of the dragon, and Jack’s sandal. But you know it’s not like that in the final print, right? That’s because Josh had us print with two transparent blacks in order to darken up those areas and other colors, as you’ll see below.

Here’s the grey color that is mostly the body of the dragon and Jack’s robe.   We printed the brown earlier up there at the top as well.  We’re about three days into the print job at this point. One day burning screens and mixing colors, and about 3 colors a day- looks like we’re 5 colors in at this point. Man, a whole lot can change in 3 days, eh? So much can change in 3 days, it can get to where a man doesn’t even recognize himself, or the things he’s done. 

Here we are with the blue, orange and red layers down!  You’ll see none of these colors really interact with each other-they’re just spot colors next to each other.  Next up comes the transparent blacks to add in all the depth and modelling you see in the final piece!

Almost there! Another day, another 2 colors down. The darker transparent black lays in shadow layers and the pattern on the Samurai’s sleeves.  This totally changes the look of the previous colors that got laid down.  You’ll see how the lighter black in the sandal separates the flesh tone out from the foot, and the darker trans black pushes the color of the dragon’s belly back to an almost brown.  The ink’s still a little wet here, hence the gloss in the pic.  One more to go!

While we’re printing, we rack our prints on our print racks to dry.  The spacers keep them from touching and the air circulating.  We also have a couple shop fans to speed up the drying.  With two racks going, the first rack is almost always dry by the time the second one fills up.  On especially humid days, it could take a while for the ink to dry and you’re left waiting for it to finish before you stack ’em up, while also hoping the ink doesn’t dry in your screen.  All that waiting is a killer in the shop, as idle hands can find themselves around a throat in no time. No time at all.


We printed the final black line art with a little bit of gloss to make it pop against the matte ink in the other inks!  All that extra paper gets taken to our cutter ‘friend’ in town that everyone uses for uh…cutting and stuff.  It’s always fun to peek in his dumpster as you get to see the poster scraps and fun colors that get left behind from everyone else’s ‘jobs’. 

Check out this detail shot below!

Man, Sean absolutely Killed this print job.  Killed it. Killed a lot of things.

Josh Budich’s “The Samurai with the Magic Sword” regular and metallic edition are up for sale in the Nakatomi store right now, right HERE.

Make sure you also check out the Blog post right below for Josh’s process, from concept sketches to pencils, inks, and colors!

-alex fugazi

Ps- sorry about all the big pictures!  Hope it didn’t bog down anyone’s browser. It’s just evidence of our commitment to bringing you into the process of screen printing! And in no way is it evidence of anything else. At all.