The Best Way to Easily Align Films on a Screen Without a Template  |

Aligning film transparencies is a vital part of the pre-production process. If your films aren’t all in line, your print may appear off-center, crooked, or misplaced. Nobody wants that (unless it’s intentional). There’s one sure-fire method to make sure your films are lined up. In the video, Ronald Peters shows you how to align your film transparencies perfectly with just a T-square.


Depending on the screen you’re using (20”x24” or 16”x20”), measure the width of the frame on the T-shirt side and mark where the center is. If you’re doing a left chest print, make a mark 3 to 3.5 inches to the right of the center line. Your screens will be flipped around for printing, so marking the right side will mean you will print on the left side once you’re on press.

A ruler marking the center line and a line for a left chest print on a screen


Now, flip your T-square so it runs vertically down the center of the screen. Take your film positive and place it on the screen under the T-square. Use the T-square to keep the straight center line. You’ll want to make sure that your top registration mark is a couple inches from the top of the screen so you’ll have room to print. It should be the same spot above your design so it’s always the same distance down. 

Make sure to mark your T-square where you want your registration marks to be every time. This way you’ll be consistent and repeatable. By marking this on the T-square itself, you’ll always have that measurement.

A t square running vertically down the center of a screen with a film underneath

Pro Tip: A good practice is to place your registration marks about an inch above your design. This leaves room for your tape to cover up your registration marks without touching your design.

Once your film positive is centered, tape it down to the screen. That’s all you need to do! You’re ready to burn some screens.


Hands tape a film to a screen

If you follow these steps, your registration mark will always fall in the same spot on your screen and—by extension—the design will always fall in the same place on your screen. Creating consistency in your workflow will make your entire screen prep process more reliable.

Dark roomDarkroomFilm positivesFilmsPrinting filmScreen printing education