Screen printing / color seperations diagram of Defender marquee

After my post yesterday on “Artwork Bleed for Screen Printing Reproduction Arcade Artwork” I got some awesome feedback from industry experts like Rich at This Old Game, and Brian at Oleszak Creative. As I still grasp at understand some of the ideas in screening arcade game marquees, I thought it might be best to draw up a little illustration to show how I am picturing how a typical marquee would be printed in an exploded view.

Putting accuracy of the artwork found on Local Arcade aside (view my breakdown of the Midway Pac-man sideart artwork inaccuracies), I went out and grabbed the Defender marquee for demonstration purposes.

Defender marquee vector file at Local Arcade – (http://www.localarcade.com/arcade_art/r29.search.htm).

Assuming the colors in this file are correct, and taking each color of Defender marquee artwork and separating them into layers, I would have six layers total, a black, a blue, a yellow, and orange and a red.

Separations Reproduction Defender Marquee Screen Prints

As you can see from the illustration above, this is my understanding and how I picture the screen printing order, with the black being printed first (to trap all of the other colors below it, and to hide the bleed) , the blue second, the orange third, the yellow fourth and the finally the red with a white sealing coat over the back. In the illustration, I have shown the Defender artwork in a fashion so you would be able to recognize it, but in reality, the films would be printed in reverse, and if you looked straight down at the marquee, you would also see the printing in reverse. In fact, the Defender marquee artwork might looks something like this;

Reversed Black Defender Marquee Artwork

Plus, this isn’t a really good illustration to show bleed amounts, but I wanted to check to make sure I had the bigger screen printing concepts correct. (I don’t know the detailed history of my games enough to know if the Williams Defender marquee was on glass, or plexi. Probably glass.)

Some good resources that are written simply and helped me get a better understanding on this topic.

Worth a note, I am not starting from scratch on my experience and knowledge base on this topic. I silk screened a couple of shirts way back in 8th grade. How much that counts, not a lot. But it does give me some familiarity with inks, and frames for the screens. But we never “burned” our films, and we never messed with more than one color or registration. These are the areas where I am shaky. A quick (10 minute) search didn’t bring up any visual tutorials on bleeds in screen printing. I didn’t think there would be resources specifically for arcade reproduction artwork screen printing, but thought there would be something else. I must not have searched with the right terms.

So, I need feedback. Is my thinking wrong? Is there a white sealing layer, and what is that actually called? Do you have any good links, or even better yet, and great visual image based tutorials on screen printing that focus specifically on multiple colors, registrations, and bleeds? Leave a comment.

Want a copy of the Illustrator (CS) file I worked on above? Download it here (.zip – 2MB). Edit it and send it back to me if you want, show me where I am wrong. (I just whipped this up quickly, not wanting to spend hours doing accurate separations for artwork I never intended to have printed, so remember this file is for illustrative purposes to help me understand screen printing and films.)

Here are some similar arcade posts

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Yep, basically your file is right on. It’s also possible that the red print ontop of the yellow will generate your orange saving a screen/setup.

The one big difference to point out of this type of screening versues tshirts as in the videos. On tshirts all colors are printed 1 right after the other on the same shirt before its removed from the press. Inks heated/dryied between each. But on reg. substrate prints-plex, vinyl, glass, metals, etc. only 1 color is printed and the piece is set aside to dry. Then will later be re-aligned on the press for the next color and screen setup.

I’ll be priniting a Galaixan marquee soon as well as the Moon Patrol Bezel for Noiselandarcade. Perhaps Ill setup and shoot some vid clips to post up.

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Hehe.. i was gonna make the exact same comment about Orange but you beat me to it rich 🙂

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If you take some videos of the Galaxian marquee printing, that would be great, but you don’t have to. We just want you to crank out the work, and leave that sort of thing to me:) Except, I can’t be there…best I could do would be post something for you with some photos, so any photos you want to send me of the screen printing process is great.

I realized that screen printing different colors is different from material to material, but I have no knowledge of the specific finishing processes of each.

On a control panel overlay, it almost appears if there is a clear coat over the control surface, where the players hands are. When you lay down the first film to print, is in reversed, on the back side of some sort of clear polycarbonate? And then the colors are layered up and finished off with some sort of double sided 3M?

And, on the comment about the orange color specifically for the Defender marquee separations illustration, how would you know whether or not you could achieve that Orange with the Red and the Yellow going in? At that point do you have to do a couple of experiments to know? Do you know looking at the color of the original and from your years of printing experience that you can achieve a certain mix? How does that work.

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Hey Jeff,

I’ve never silk screened either but I want to try it. I have a Defender, and the marquee is on plexi. I think you are right about how CPOs are usually done from what I’ve heard.

Here’s a few links I’ve saved about silkscreening:

I found this site – SmartFlix.com – that lets you rent training DVDs. They have a whole section on screen printing:

I haven’t rented any yet, but they look pretty good.

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Not sure I understand the clear coat? your above demo works for cpos as well, done the same way 2 corrections your “white screen” would just be a solid Black fill. and 2 the 3m double sided adhesive layer would follow after the white. I dont think any polycarbonate cpos were surface clearcoated. if they appear shiny Id venture to guess its from hands rubbing on it for 20+years polishing it.
On the orange difficult to match exactly. as you have lesss control of it.

you can custom mix your yellow and red to match what you need but with the orange there are to many factors when screening the other 2 colors that would change its effect like ink thickness, mesh counts, etc. Color Tests either way are always best. cause you might just get lucky. I generally just match and print orange separately.

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I wasn’t thinking correctly originally.

So, the polycarbonate material, do you have website links of websites that sell that in raw sheets? I would be interested to see photos of what that looks like when you get it at your print shop. Do you have links to somewhere online that has photos, or photos of it yourself?

What size panels do you get that you start printing on? Do you have to cut them to approximate size before working on them? Or do you screen on one bigger sheet and then cut to size? What is the thickness, 3/16″?

Thanks for correcting me on how the screened inks stacked up. I noticed that the yellow would be really punched out of the red if you were going to mix the two to get the orange, and the black would be last followed with 3M double sided tape…interesting.

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Something better than this website;


Maybe some bigger photos of the raw polycarbonate material, singular in showing each type, for arcade marquee printing.

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Thanks for all of the great content links…

You sure do have a passion for the restoration of arcade games. I don’t think I feel strongly about doing screen printing to try to learn it myself. Would rather be really good at a couple of things and not draw myself too thin learning a bunch of stuff. Unless, I was going to use it a lot, and why learn screen printing when guys like Rich and Darin are already doing a lot of great stuff:)

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Hey Jeff,

You’re welcome and thanks. I am addicted to this hobby…maybe unhealthily so. 🙂

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I used a printing service to make a custom arcade marquee from a photo; what I ordered was called a “lightbox panel” used for such backlit purposes as movie ads at theaters, etc. I just uploaded a photo and chose the dimensions; it works great as marquee if you don’t need the detail of screen printing. Results: http://www.powerfunk.org/marquee.jpg

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Thanks for the reply to the diagram of how a marquee is screen printed.

Your marquee looks photographic, and very large. Looks like it fits your game nicely. I know there are a good number of shops out there that will print custom marquees for you, from your local sign shop possibly, to probably the most recognized name online, mamemarquees.com. I have only heard very good things about them.

Where did you order yours from?

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Another nice post. Thanks for the info gentlemen.

Jumped the gun and emailed Jeff a question in relation to the ‘red’ and ‘yellow’ color separations in the Defender marquee example and how they interact with each other.

If I bothered to continue reading ALL of the comments .. I would have had my answer! Idiot!

Thanks again.

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Do you have a website like Zorg where you post a list of what you have started / completed?

I know you mentioned wanting to help him out…and that you are coming back to old personal projects, but it would be cool to see a list of some sort (He says as he doesn't have a text list himself on his site ) 🙂

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