Vector artwork is strongly encouraged for the highest print quality. All fonts need to be converted to outlines or the font file(s) must be included with artwork. If you have questions regarding the print readiness of your artwork, please contact your graphic designer or our client reps.
Layered or channel-separated files should be provided for multi-color designs. High-resolution bmp, png, or jpgs can be used as a last resort for 1-color images.
If you’re not sure about the quality of your artwork, please send it over and we will be happy to take a look and let you know if we can work with it.
Microsoft programs and phone apps are not professional design applications, those files will require additional design work to make them print quality. Saving a low-resolution file into one of the formats listed above will not give us a vector or hi-resolution file. If the original file was not created in a professional design program, there is no good way to convert it to a professional quality design.
To eliminate our pre-press design costs, we urge you to create to the following screen print specifications before submitting your artwork. Creating print-ready artwork on your own is actually quite simple with professional design applications and knowledge. However, we’ve also worked with designers that have hired us because they have trouble getting it right.
There are a handful of design applications out there and people all have their preferences, but we can only recommend 2 for creating print quality graphics. The two biggest design programs are Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Both of these applications have their strengths, depending on what kind of illustration you’re working on, however they have one very large, fundamental difference.
Illustrator can utilize pixel-based graphics from Photoshop, but cannot edit them with the same ease. Instead, Illustrator creates vector graphics. These are graphics that are NOT resolution-dependent—like pixels—and instead are comprised of points and lines that connect in a variety of ways to create line art. This line art can then be filled with, or outlined with color. Since most screen printing utilizes spot colors, vector graphics are the ideal source file type.
Vector graphics are extremely versatile and very simple to manipulate. Their size can be changed without any concern about pixelization or loss of detail. Vector is definitely the preferred method for creating artwork for screen printing, as it also gives us crisp linework and edges, resulting in more precise images on screen and ultimately better printed garments. Common file types for vector-based graphics are .ai, .eps, .svg, and some—but not all–.pdf files.
Photoshop deals with a pixel-based type of graphic. These images are comprised of hundreds of thousands of small, colored dots (aka pixels) that create a graphic. This is where the term DPI—dots per inch—comes from. The higher the DPI, the more dots per inch, and the more detail you’ll be able to obtain. Think of it in terms of video resolution: The higher the resolution number (480, 720, 1080) the better the image quality. These are the types of graphics you view on your computer screen every day while browsing the web. Commonly seen pixel-based graphic types are .jpg, .gif, and .png formats. None of these file formats are ideal for screen-printing as they are all compressed, typically low-resolution versions of pixel-based artwork. Most jpg, gif and png files need some pre-press work to make them print quality.
With design graphics, all images intended to be printed must be created at print size or larger—not increased afterwards—and at an original resolution of 300 DPI or higher. Anything less will result in lower quality printing. Raster graphics must be saved as an uncompressed file type, such as a .psd or .tiff with compression disabled. All colors should be saved in separate independent layers. Any file with artwork flattened or multiple colors within single layers will need prepress work done to make it printable.
Picking the right ink colors for your design is important to the success of your design. Please take some time to choose your ink colors wisely. We have a full list of our house ink colors available with more information on the
We love it when our customers have professionally-designed, quality, high-resolution or vector t-shirt artwork! We work with freelance designers, design firms, advertising agencies, and large marketing departments because our creative customers know that we take the time to understand their projects and we care about the details. They also know that we’re super reliable and we will meet their deadline and quality expectations. If you are in the beginning stages of creating your t-shirt design and you have some creative skills, good ideas, and access to professional graphic design programs, it can be helpful to contact us early in your design process. That way, we can optimize your design ideas specific to our screen printing capabilities and we can benefit together. While our print capabilities are expansive, there are also ways in which we can help minimize time and costs.
Many customers also come to us with artwork that is less than ideal. While we can print from low-quality images taken from your website, it’s important to understand that anything designed for a website is far from print quality. For instance, if you want your logo to go from a 1″ web graphic to a 10” wide t-shirt print, you do not want to use a web graphic. Your printed garments can only be as good as your original artwork. If you provide us with poor artwork, it will take some adjustments to make it print-ready and sometimes those adjustments mean re-drawing your artwork into a professional design program. Our standard design rate is $75/hr, but we discount our apparel design rate to just $50/hr for apparel designs, when coupled with an screen print order. Please let us know how we can help with your project.