Category Archives: design resources

How to take your T-Shirt Artwork from Good to Great

This post is by one of our guest authors, Blake from You Design It. Read more about Blake at the end of his article.

Have you ever spent countless hours creating a masterpiece for t-shirt printing only to receive bad news back from the printer? You have probably heard something to the effect of “the resolution is bad” or “we can’t separate the colors” or even the silly response of “we can print this but it’s not going to look good”. Now why would you want someone to print something, if it isn’t going to look good?

We want to take this opportunity to identify some of the problem areas in a t-shirt design, and how much better the artwork can look for print. We’re actually going to do this with a real world example of a very advanced t-shirt design that was submitted to us and how it looked once we cleaned it up. With the money spent on custom T-shirts, I think we can all agree that the design needs to look the very best it can.

First let’s begin with the original image that was submitted to us for print:

At first glance it looks great and we were very impressed with the artist’s skills. Once we took a little closer look, we noticed that there were a few rough edges and some shading that would not translate well into t-shirt printing. Here are three closer images on areas that needed some improvement because of the usage of glows, shading, and an overall lower resolution.

Need Improvements

Need Improvements

Need Improvements

The way we solve these problem areas is by converting the jpeg or raster image into a vector format. This is a process that needs to be explained in a different/longer blog post because of the complexity. For now though, we just want to help with the awareness in identifying areas needing improvement.

Here is the final artwork after being converted to a vector format:

Cleaned up Version

And here are those three close-up images with much cleaner lines, less shading, and more solid colors.

Cleaned up Version

Cleaned up Version

Cleaned up Version

Ultimately, printing the t-shirts from a vector format made them go from good to the very best they could be. Don’t just settle for good after you have put so much into your project.

*Disclaimer: T-shirts can be printed from raster images in 4-color process for screen printing or they can be printed digitally. This post is intended for specific situations and does not cover all t-shirt design scenarios.

About Blake Poutra at You Design It
You Design It
Blake Poutra has been in the t-shirt printing industry for 10 years and learns new tips and techniques every day. He works for You Design It where they print thousands of t-shirts a day and he rides an electric scooter to work. 🙂 [editor’s note: lucky bastard!]

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