Creating Print Ready Art Files

Posted by:
Tom Bell
January 1, 1970

Printing on fabric can become a profitable online business with t-shirts, hoodies, and other apparel. In order to get your product out there, you first need to find the right designs and have them printed to sell through Viralstyle. When working with print on demand for fabric, there are certain requirements that are needed to get the artwork print-ready. Printing onto fabrics is different than printing on paper. This article will walk you through the do's and don'ts and give you a few practical tips for preparing your files for print.

Popular Methods of Printing

A popular method of printing on fabric is screen printing, which is a traditional method that uses mesh screens to print onto the product. It separates colors into different layers and prints them one layer at a time.

Another widely used method is DTG, or direct-to-garment printing. DTG uses a printer that injects ink directly onto the fabric. It's perfect for garments with elaborate details in the design.Sublimation, or all over printing, is the technique where printing is placed onto a special sheet of paper and transferred onto the garment. The ink is heated until it melts into the fabric, making the ink longer-lasting and preventing the “peeling” effect of a design on an older t-shirt.

Planning For Perfect Color Printing

Colors are an important element of printing on fabric. There are a few things to consider when choosing a design. Always save the image as CMYK, rather than RGB, as it is generally the preferred color model with printers. Use the Pantone Matching System so that the printer knows exactly which pantone code to use, ensuring that the colors match consistently. This can save a lot of time and effort.

When printing onto darker fabrics, a layer of white ink needs to serve as a base for the other colors, otherwise, the dark fabric absorbs the vibrancy of the colors, giving the fabric a slightly faded look. When choosing colors for printing on apparel, think about the color of the clothing you'll be printing on. Will the design be compatible and practical with the color of the garment?

Image via Flickr by AbdillahAbi

Resolution and Other Design Elements

It's recommended that you create or use a high-resolution image file of around 300 dpi. for JPEG and PNG files. If your chosen image doesn't have high-resolution, you can change it on software like Photoshop. Remember that changing the resolution also changes the physical size of the design.

The acceptable formats for print files are JPEG, PNG, and EPS which is the most preferred format and has no image resolution limit. The file size should not be over 10 MB. The dimensions of the artwork should have a minimum of 800 x 800 pixels and a maximum of 3000 x 3000 pixels. Always consider your design size and placement on the garment to ensure your image comes out looking great.

Other things to consider in your design are your use of design effects. Many of the Photoshop effects are not compatible with fabric printing techniques. Avoid using drop shadow effect, faded edges, glow effect, reduced opacity, and most filters. Using a transparent background is a good idea to prevent a white square from being printed around the image. If you're not familiar with design software, it may be better to hire a graphic designer to do the job for you.

Exporting Your File to the Printer

When using a  high-resolution JPEG file, which is best for photos and images without a transparent background, you can compress the digital image so that it is not too big to send. You don't want to compromise on your quality, so always check your image before sending. Don't assume that high-resolution automatically means high-quality.

PNG files can also be compressed and also require a higher resolution. One color, such as the background, can be transparent. You can also control the degree of transparency or opacity in the image.EPS is an extension for a graphics file format for vector-based images in Illustrator and is the preferred type for print files. It can hold both text and images. An EPS file usually contains a bitmap version of the image for easier viewing. There is also the advantage of having no resolution limit to this file format.

When you prepare your graphics for print, these tips will help you to come up with the best results. Most images will be designed on programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator. Prepare your files for print in a way that works for your printer, this ensures that they are not only delighted with the quality of the graphic files, but that you won't be consumed with making a load of amendments, saving you plenty of time and frustration.

Image via Flickr by Muffet