Plastisol ink textures to create a cracked vintage print effec

Have you ever noticed your old t-shirts have that random cracking over the design? I totally love that effect. Most of the inks on those vintage t-shirts are printed with plastisol.

What is Plastisol?

Good question. Plastisol is an ink type used for screen printing onto textiles. When I say textiles, I mean t-shirts, or at least that's all I'm interested in. As the name suggests, plastisol inks are not water-soluble. It's made primarily of two ingredients: a PVC (polyvinyl chloride) resin and a plasticizer. When a design is screen-printed, it won't dry on its own. It has to be cured with heat. The biggest advantage of plastisol ink, as far as I'm concerned, is that it lasts for a long time. However, the irony of that statement is that it tends to crack.

Cracking Textures

These days, more and more printers are printing with water-soluble inks that just don't crack in the same way—if at all. I'm addicted to crack! The very way plastisol cracks is what I love. It’s random, it’s vintage and it just looks totally badass. That is why I've created this photoshop texture pack.

Creating the Plastisol Ink Textures

I created all these textures myself. I bought a special type of plastisol ink that cracks really easily. So I bought a bunch of really cheap black t-shirts and got busy printing large slabs of white plastisol.

Some I put down just a thin layer of plastisol ink, others I put down an obscene amount of ink. I've never printed Plastisol period. So this was a massive learning experience.

I Found a Cure

Now when I purchased my screen printing setup, it was with the intention of printing water-based inks. Water-based inks do not need to be cured. Plastisol, however, does. It needs to be cured at a temperature of around 300 degrees (ish).

Every print shop will have a professional dryer called a flash dryer. I could have spent £150 on a flash dryer, but being the tight arse I am I used a paint stripper heat gun. You heard me right, I cured my ink with a paint stripper, and it worked like a charm.

Now I would never recommend this for a real t-shirt that you want to wear—but for photoshop textures, sure, no worries.

After the Cure

After I cured them I pulled the fabric to stretch it. It makes the ink crack real good in the direction you apply force. Next, I put all the material in my washing machine to speed up the aging process.

Then I dried them out and repeated the wash. You might say this is a bit of an oddball way to create a texture. To be honest, you are right. But I had the kit and I like to experiment. It's fun to get your hands dirty while also trying to learn a new skill. What you see in this texture pack are those printing experiments.

Plastisol Construction Kit

Cracked plastisol ink textures

So here it is, a single Photoshop file that contains 20 cracked and distorted plastisol textures and 15 plastisol brush presets. Everything is done using layer presets, and smart objects.

All you need to do is edit the smart object and add your own design. You can then use the brushes to add extra texture to your work. The texture presets range from very light plastisol ink cracking to really distorted, cracked and flakey ink. It's perfect for flat illustrator artwork, making it look really different.

Oh and I forgot to mention that there are also 5 actions to roughen up your artwork edges. Sometimes designs taken from illustrator look too clean, too crisp. So that's what the edge actions are for, they break up those perfect lines. The construction kit includes

  • 15 brushes to add extra random texture
  • 10 additional background textures
  • 5 edge distressed actions
  • Ability to change the background color
  • Full instructions included
  • High-resolution textures 4496 x 3150 at 300dpi
  • Nearly 1GB of texture goodness

Check out Plastisol Ink Textures in my store.