We often are asked “how do I know if my art will look great when printed with DTG?” With this blog we will help you prepare art for the best DTG printing results.
If you are a graphic designer or plan to continue working with images we highly recommend Adobe Photoshop. They do offer a cloud based subscription for $19.99. Learn more here: Adobe Cloud.
If you are not familiar with graphic design we highly recommend reaching out to a designer to assist you or if you already have your design saved we can do the last few finishing touches at $40 per hour (art in ‘good’ shape usually only takes 5-15 minutes to prep for print).
Our max printing area is 12” wide x 15” tall for men’s garments. Most people do not want to cover the WHOLE front of a shirt so we suggest taking a piece of computer paper (8.5” wide x 11” tall) and holding it to your chest. That way you can get an idea of how large you want the art printed. (If you are planning on printing on women’s t-shirts or other small items such as youth, toddler and infant styles we will need to scale the art down.)
12” wide generally looks like the design is wrapping around your chest into your arm pits. No matter what size you choose the height of the art plus the hang point (the space starting at the bottom of the collar to the top of the art) cannot exceed 15”. MOST importantly, the resolution should be at LEAST 300 dpi for a clean crisp image. If you save a photograph from the internet it most likely will be at 72 dpi which will print blurry or jagged so we recommend creating your own images and text in Photoshop or Illustrator.
Transparency is key!
Whatever file you send us, we will print. We always suggest creating and saving your art files with a transparent background so the shirt can show through when it is supposed to (See Image C). If you merge your design and a white or black background appears, UNDO! If you send us a file with a white background, it will print with a white rectangle behind your image which is normally NOT something our clients want to see.
Another big thing to be aware of is the dreaded anti-aliasing! Photo editor programs such as Photoshop try to make your design look nice on screen by adding blurry edges to make things look smooth to your eye. This unfortunately is BAD for our DTG machines. Our machines detect anywhere there is pixel information and lay down a layer of white during the first pass and then a layer of color after that. Many times this means a thin white line poking around the edges of your art. We can help you remove these blurry edges or you can watch our helpful training video here on how to remove it:
If you create your art in Illustrator there is a much simpler way to avoid this when you are importing the design into Photoshop:
If your design has elements that you want to blend into nothing (or into the color of the shirt) such as stars in space, you will still need to make these solid or our machines will do it for you. We recommend merging the design elements into the color of the garment so you can still have that effect and then delete the background.
In this instance I wanted to print these red orbs on a black shirt so I added a black background and merged them together. Then selected the black to delete the solid areas and you are left with this. If you are printing this design on other colors besides black, then you will need to make a version for each color garment.
Preferred File Format
When placing an order for DTG printing we recommend saving your files in PNG format. This means you need to change your color mode to RGB and save with NO interlacing. The art should already be at the size you want it to print (as discussed earlier) and then go to File > Save As (NOT save for web) and use the Format drop down to find PNG. This will merge your layers and keep the file at a manageable size without losing quality.
How to get that bright color you want
Digital design and printing can be a little tricky when trying to predict colors. A purple you chose from your screen may look very different compared to when I open the file and look on my screen and will even be different when printed on cotton! Many times colors look darker when printed than what you see on your screen so we suggest you lighten photographs before sending them to us. To avoid disappointment with colors, we have created a SWATCH set of 100 colors to help you predict the final output and it correlates with a digital swatch that you can download for free and load into your Adobe Photoshop. We have chosen the blackest black (RGB: 0,0,0) the brightest red and whitest white along with 97 other popular colors ranging from orange through grey. If you are planning on printing a LARGE order (more than 10 pieces) we recommend ordering a sample print first on a scrap garment and request a set of swatches be sent along with your test print. Many times the garment color or material content will affect the colors in the print. We do NOT recommend printing on garments less than 80% cotton.
These are just a FEW of the ways to ensure that your art prints out the way you want it to look. If you have any questions please reach out to us by telephone or email.