A lot of graphics programs default to 72ppi, which is WAY TOO LOW.
300ppi is usually the sweet spot for most print work.
Triple check your spelling...Then check it again.
Typos get expensive when you have to reprint a bunch of shirts.
Story time: I went to a school with "Heights" in the name. I have no idea how many times it's been spelled "Hieghts" over the years, but 15+ years after I was there I continue to hear new horror stories from people associated with the district. Check your spelling.
Create your art on transparent layers whenever possible!
This has its own section below.
Big images can be reduced. Small images CANNOT be enlarged cleanly.
No matter what you've seen on TV, there's no "enhance" in real life.
It's always better to create the art larger than you currently think necessary. You never know when you'll want it bigger.
Vector graphics are awesome!
They let you ignore the previous tip. They can be resized cleanly at any time, but they do have their own issues and limitations though.
Save multiple versions
Always keep backups of your large original graphics. Don’t delete or save over them. You never know when you’ll need the original again.
Please DO NOT flatten your layers! See the section on Transparency & Photoshop Layers.
Other Acceptable File Formats .TIF .EPS (Good for vector art generated in software other than Illustrator)** .BMP .PNG (Use 24-bit png instead of 8-bit)* .JPG (Use highest quality setting)* .PDF (Not usually good for Screen Printing)**
*Small graphics from websites will not print well. **Raster images embedded in EPS & PDF files are often highly compressed and/or low resolution versions of the art and don't print well.
Convert Text to Vector Outlines or Shapes
Include font files when you send the art
Convert Text to Raster Image
RGB (Red Green Blue):
Preferred mode. Red, green, and blue light combine to make the colors on your computer screen. It has the widest color range and gives us more wiggle room to prepare the art for printing. Our color separating software is designed to work with RGB.
Greyscale (White, Black, and all the Grey in between):
Great for simple one-color designs!
CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black):
These are the four standard ink colors used for most printing industries. (It's also how your average desktop printer works.) It has a limited color range because the four ink colors become muddy and dull as they mix.
Yes, we’re backwards from most printing industries. Instead of requiring CMYK, we prefer RGB.
1) Shirts are rarely printed in CMYK inks.
In CMYK printing: To make a dark green, tiny overlapping dots of cyan, yellow, and black create the illusion of the dark green.
In screen printing: We mix a custom shade of green and print it as one solid color. We even have a crazy mixing system that starts with 18 different base colors. (Personally, I like "Electric Purple".)
2) Our software is calibrated to work with RGB art.
******************** This really does help us provide a better product, contributes to a faster turn around time on your order, and reduces possible art editing charges. ********************
Transparent art layers are your friends!
Even if you don't use Photoshop, most decent modern software should have some kind of way to create art separate from the background layer and output an image with a transparent background.
One of the trickiest parts of preparing art for screen printing is eliminating background colors that aren’t supposed to be printed. (Usually white or black.) Eliminating the background is much much easier when art is created separate from the background layer to begin with.
Always try to preserve as much original detail as possible. Don't merge or flatten any layers that you don't have to.
Here's An Example Project:
The images below show a simple shirt design and different versions of art files.
The finished shirt...
All layers are intact. The only potential problem is that the text layer hasn’t been converted to shapes.
The art layers have been merged together but are kept separate from the solid white background color.
If you use a program other than Photoshop, you may have to create a file similar to this one to save into a format we can use.
MORE DIFFICULT TO SEPARATE
Flattened... The art layers have been merged with the white background layer. This makes it harder to cleanly separate the design colors from the background.