I'm designing an image for a clothing company and this is my first art gig job ever since I graduated from my uni in May, and well I don't have any experience in getting an image print ready for screen printing. I have done old school screen printing where I did color separations by hand of using acetate and oil based markers, so I am familiar with that and understanding that each color should have its own layer.

Now working on AI, everything was going fine until I ran into a problem, everything that's WHITE is on 1 layer and everything that is BLACK is on 1 layer. The black layer is underneath the white layer, and I need to add black stroke lines for hair strands for the design (I quickly drew with the pencil tool hair strands to show how I want the final image to look like), but if I draw the hair strands using the BLACK color layer, the strands won't show, because it will be hidden behind the WHITE hair.

If I move the black layer above the white layer, the eyes and mouth are hidden behind the black skull face, but the black stroke hair strands are now showing on the WHITE hair. If I move the BLACK layer back to its original place, under the WHITE layer, the skulls face features show, but the black hair strands won't, it's hiding behind the WHITE hair. :(

enter image description here

My question is, can I make ANOTHER BLACK LAYER just for the hair strand strokes? Or do you know how to fix my issue?

And don't mind the grey circle it's not part of the design, I just put a colored background so that the white hair can be seen.

  • 1
    As it is, your question is pretty broad. I recommend you read up on Spot Colors, Overprints, Clipping Masks, and Transparency Masks. Nov 21, 2015 at 16:14

2 Answers 2


I think you should use first use pathfinder in Illustrator to delete the over-lapping faces (e.g. basic hair structure and face) and yes, you should definitely make an ANOTHER BLACK LAYER just for the hair strand strokes.

Working in layers is always beneficial

  • @Fashion.Artist Additionally, after using the technique suggested by Rishab.Ag, (and if your plan was to use screen printing with 1-color) make sure your colors are 100% density and all the same black. On your image, it's obvious you have different kind of black; the hairband appears dark gray. It doesn't matter if you use a 100% black only or a Pantone Black or any other Pantone! As long you use the same exact one everywhere; the printer will use the right ink, the 1-color of your design doesn't matter.
    – go-junta
    Dec 22, 2015 at 19:59
  • @go-junta thanks! But, I found out from my client the printing won't be done using screen printing, it will be done with digital printing. Jan 2, 2016 at 4:33
  • @go-junta but thank you for your advice, I'll keep that in mind for future designs for screen printing! :) Happy New Yrs! :) Jan 2, 2016 at 4:34

Layers within a file mean nothing where output is concerned. Layers have no bearing on output and are only a tool to better organize, edit, or create an image. When the file is output it's seen as colors, not layers. You can have 50000 layers all with a single black object on each of them. When you print the file, it prints as one black plate, or 1 color, and ignores the layer structure completely. You are free to have as many layers as you want. There's no correlation between number of layers and number of colors.

In short... there's no technical reason each color "needs to have its own layer". You can freely spread colors across any number of layers you want.

Just create 4 layers:

  • Black base
  • White base
  • Black on top of white areas
  • White on top of black areas

When the file is output it is still just black art. (Or, in other words, a single color plate)

With the above posted, there are methods to remove shapes from other shapes - Pathfinder, Shape Builder Tool, overprinting, transparency settings, compound paths, clipping or opacity masks. All of these methods can be used as well.

  • THANK YOU SO MUCH! I understand now :) I have another question, since the colors are black and white only, should I use spot colors? or no? Because right now it's in CMYK Nov 23, 2015 at 5:01

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