|Inside of shirt with one coat of screen printing paint on lettering and one coat of acrylic on star.|
So I thought I'd try using screen printing paint and compare. I used Simply Screen water-based screen printing paint by Plaid ($2.99/ 2 oz at the craft store). Obviously the paint cost more than acrylic paint, but this was a reasonably cheap screen printing paint.
I started out by making a freezer paper stencil with letters and a star. I decided to use the screen printing paint on the lettering and acrylic on the star. I used the same dab it on technique and the screen printing paint actually did worse than the acrylic paint. Hmmm, that wasn't supposed to happen. So I did some research and discovered there is a different technique to using screen printing paint.
To use screen printing paint, place a bead of paint on the stencil above the area to be painted. Get a flat edged spatula (or an old credit card) and drag a thick coat of paint over the stencil (top picture). My technique was lacking so I used my fingers to fill in a few spots. Let it dry for a full 24 hours before removing the stencil (middle picture). One coat of screen printing paint properly applied does look much better than one coat of acrylic paint. It looked so good that I decided to paint over the star with acrylic paint, but first I took a picture of the inside of the shirt to show how much bleed through the acrylic paint (one coat) did versus the screen printing paint.
Verdict - for light colored designs on dark backgrounds I'm definitely using screen printing paint. For dark designs on light backgrounds I'll probably stick with acrylic paint because one or two coats works just fine and is cheaper than screen printing paint (especially since I already have a stash of acrylic paint).