Staring Contest – Open Your Eyes to Screen Printing Color Opportunities

We creative types have all been there. You’re super excited to start designing the most beautiful wine label the world has ever. seen.

And then you feel it’s eyes on you, your blank canvas in the form of a bare glass bottle.

You’ve also made the savvy choice to go with screen printing but realize you’re working within a certain number of spot colors. Genius printing decision but is all this making you feel design or color inhibited?

Fear not, you already have your solution- and it’s in that inspiring glass bottle staring back at you.

The Glass.

Deadleaf. Antique Green. Flint.  These aren’t the names of the latest streaming documentary, they are the descriptors of glass bottle colors and they are your color friend.

Let’s take Deadleaf glass. It is yellow-green in hue, fresh & citrusy and looks amazing with a design overprinted in teal or blue green paints. Add a bright yellow or white paint and your design has an elevated aesthetic.

On the other hand, Antique Green glass is a lovely lush forest green color, rich and warm. Now let’s follow this bottle down the complementary color trail. Here you’ll find the paint colors that would overprint beautifully are pinks, purples and reds. Talk about making your design stand up and shout, “check out my use of the color wheel!”.

In less art nerd terms, your bottle will be unique among the sea of white paper labels that just hide the glass.

deadleaf green bottle with paint overprint
Dead leaf Green Bottle
Antique bottle with complementary color- paint overprint
Antique Green Bottle

The Wine.

Red, white, even orange, we love it. Wine is color . It comes in so many of them it opens up countless color opportunities. It’s the hue created from the wine inside the bottle that can affect your design in a bunch of cool ways. Try screen printing a halftone of 50% cream colored paint on top of a Rosé and you have a lovely warm peach tone. Reduce the paint down to 25% cream and the Rosé shows through more intensely, giving you an even darker nectarine-like hue. You’ve gained two new colors using just one spot color and gradient halftones. Nice work!

A dark Cabernet inside an Antique Green glass bottle looks dark and rich, nearly black. Use this dramatic black bottle for countless options: create your design with paints from the pastel palette, or even a glow paint, and they will jump off this dark bottle. Use the black as a backdrop for halftones, allowing more or less glass to show itself through the paint.

Why not halftone a light blue color onto this black surface? It will reveal increasingly darker hues of blue as the amount of paint over the bottle decreases and reveals more glass. In doing this you’ve created several colors using only one spot color blue.

Same thing for black and white or gray-scale design. Go for it! Half toning a design over the bottle, using white at 0% thru to 100% will give you the gradients you’re after.

Rose wine with cream colored paint, halftones of color
Rosé wine with cream halftones
Glass bottle with overprint of blue halftones
Antique glass with blue halftones
Bottle with screen printed halftones
Antique Bottle with Gray-scale halftones

The Coating.

Now let’s imagine we want to take that Antique Green bottle and give it a cold, après ski look. Also, technically known as a frosted or etched look. No problem! Utilizing a color coating, we can make the bottle frosty, and beyond.

Coatings range from the semi-transparent frosted look all the way up to dark moody colors, like opaque slate and metallic pewter. Lightly coated bottles will allow the product or glass to show through, creating unique colors like beach glass. Now that we’re all excited about coatings, let’s also be mindful of the color contrast of the bottle / the wine with our overprinted screen print design. Enter The Window.

The Window.

A window is created by developing design elements intended to be “knocked out” from the coating, creating a window to the bottle color underneath. For example, our frosty, après ski bottle could have a window, say of a skier, and where the glass shows through would just be a darker version of where the frost is. Almost like the frost has been wiped off in the shape of a skier. The bottle could then be overprinted with blue, yellow or any other spot color(s).

The contrast of a window against the frost can have a subtle impact, but why not try a bolder version and design for a Chardonnay in a clear bottle? Have it lightly coated with a pink color and incorporate a window into the design. Maybe in a pineapple shape? The mix of pink and the gold colored wine will make the bottle appear peachy – except where the pineapple window is. Because there it looks golden yellow, like the wine.

Just like that, you’ve introduced an additional peach color without using up your spot colors-and a fruity and delicious tropical theme is born!

Frosted glass bottle, window
Frosted look bottle with skier shaped window
Sprayed bottle, windows with screen printed overprint
Chardonnay with a light coating of pink and a pineapple window

Simply put, use one or all of these ways to allow the glass or wine color to show through your next screen-printed design.
And congratulations, you have just won the staring contest!

Bottle silhouettes sourced from Freepik.


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