Category Archives: t-shirt printing

Your First Printing Experience: How to Prepare

your-first-printing-experience

This article assumes that you (the reader) have already started your company, have designs that you would like to print and have found a printer to work with. It is intended to walk you through the process of your first print and bring up any “did you knows”. Enjoy!

  1. Prepare your files for print.
  2. Select your printing method.
  3. PRINT!

Prepare Your Files for Print

As a clothing company the first thing you should know is designing for print (4-color process) and designing for t-shirts are two different worlds. Make sure you or your designer make it as easy as possible for your printer to print your shirt without compromising your design. This will not only make it easier for you in the long run but it will give you a better product for your customers because you did not make last minute changes during the process.

As a designer and company owner, I am very familiar with how to make my life and my screen printers life a lot easier. Make sure you convert all of your text to outlines, use Pantone colors, create your artwork to size (exactly, not bigger or smaller), use vector artwork when possible and expand all stroked lines to at least 0.5 points.

What do you need to know before talking with your printer?

  • Where the print is going.
  • How many colors are used.
  • The Pantone color codes for all colors used.
  • The type of printing method you are using.
  • Are you using specialty inks?
  • How many units you are printing.
  • The type of ink you are using.

Where the print is going.
The easiest way I have found to indicate where the print will be is to create a line sheet. This will show if you have multiple print locations and if the designs will go over seams (neck, waist etc.).

How many colors are used.
Your line sheet should also indicate the number of colors used. You can do with by creating a shape and filling it with that color. This will be a helpful visual indicator later on. If you are using multiple colors and halftones please check to make sure your printer can printer halftones and ask how it would be be prepared for them depending on the printing method used. If you do not know what halftones are, that is a topic for another time.

line-sheet-1

line-sheet-2

The Pantone color codes for all colors used.
Where do you find these you may ask? You or your designer should be using a Pantone swatch book. If you are not, buy one! Most design programs such as Adobe Photoshop come with the Pantone libraries built in. You or your designer can use the color picker tool to sample a color from your design. Once you have done that, double click on the foreground color in your tools pallet. When the menu pops up simply click the color libraries button and use the Pantone Solid Coated library (3-4 digit pantone # followed by a C). This color will be the one you tell your printer to use when printing. If this is confusing to you, you can probably find a more in depth tutorial online or ask your designer.

color-libraries

The type of printing method used.
The standard type of T-shirt printing is screen printing, most often used with plastisol ink or water based ink. Simply put, plastisol has a thicker feel on the shirt and water based soaks into the shirt giving it a very soft hand. There is a brief explanation of different printing methods in the section below.

screen-print-1

screen-print-2

Are you using specialty inks or applications?
Before, most chosen designs were printed with plastisol inks, some with a chino additive and a few with water based or discharge inks. But now, designers can now use up to 8 colors, specify super glow, puff, high density, suede, UV color change, shimmer, metallic clear, glitter, blister, flock, vinyl, foils, embroider, gradients, simulated process and even belt printing. See the printing method section below for more info.

Select Your Printing Method

The process of screen printing can seem intimidating the first time you approach it with no past experience. Make sure the screen printer you have chosen is very friendly as your printer can prove to be an invaluable asset in your first venture and moving forward.

When I did my first print my screen printer taught me how to keep the small detail during print, choose my inks correctly based on the shirt and when inks would work best for the look I was going for. After you become familiar with your screen printer and how they work, the process of printing can become seamless. There are many printing methods with their pros ad cons. I will inform you of the methods but ultimately it is your choice.

Printing method types.
There is a brief explanation of different printing methods used below. All pros and cons were gathered by a collective effort at T-Shirt Forums

Screening Printing – Creating screens pressed up against cloth to place paint onto shirts one color per screen. Pros: cost effective, high quality, professional, durability. Cons: each color requires a separate screen, messy, need to print many shirts at once with the same design to be feasible.

Heat Press/INKJET/LASER Transfers – Print transparent inks using a computer onto a special piece of paper. Use heat to adhere the ink and paper onto the cloth. Pros: easy to print multi colors and complex designs, does not require different colors to be applied separately, great for small orders, easily customize different shirts. Cons: heavy feel of transfer, the cloth is the brightest part of the design: works well on white shirts, but doesn’t work on dark shirts, cracks, fades away easily.

Heat Press/Plastisol Transfers – Where you have plastisol ink printed onto transfer paper so it can easily be added to the garment via a heat press.

Vinyl Graphics – Use a machine to cut out designs on special solid color sheets of vinyl. Use heat to adhere cut vinyl to adhere vinyl to paper. Pros: high quality, durability, easily customize different shirts, great for small orders. Cons: have to separate and cut out each color independently, doesn’t work well for designs with complex patterns or designs that show a lot of background of the shirt inside the design.

Direct to Garment – Print inks directly onto cloth. Pros: reduces steps, patterns doesn’t have heavy feel like screen printing, great for small orders, easily customize different shirts. Cons: the cloth is the brightest part of the design: works well on white shirts. There is more of a challenge to the DTG operator to get dark prints to come out correctly, but it can be done.

Dye Sublimation – Dye sub is great for full color designs on white or light colored garments. It has no feel to the design but is a little trickier to master than inkjet heat transfers. Also, it tends to be a bit more expensive. You can also use this process on non textile products such as mugs, mousepads, tile, puzzles, coasters, key chains, etc. Dye sub is used only on man made fabrics like polyester (with various results on blends and pre-treated fabrics). You cannot print on 100% cotton t-shirts with dye sub.

Specialty ink application list.
I have gathered the below information from Threadless.

Super glow is what it sounds like… glow-in-the-dark ink, on steroids. It is very transparent and looks “water-color-ish”. Super glow is really cool on light color shirts because it has a tonal clear effect that glows. It’s great if you want to play around with the idea of hidden messages or design elements. Keep in mind that it’s not 100% transparent, so elements in super glow will show up slightly even when not glowing.

Puff is a rounded, raised ink that’s best when used with organic shapes and lines. Hard edges and angles are often softened or lost when printed with puff. It can hold some detail, however the finer the detail or smaller the line, the less it “puffs”. Puff isn’t effective for large fill areas due to its heaviness, and the area won’t appear as puffed.

High density ink is raised, square stacked ink. It’s much better than puff for elements that have hard edges or angles. Similar to puff, areas of fine detail or with elements that come to a point don’t translate well. It’s also not recommended for fill areas, as the center of the fill tends to “sink”. Essentially, high density ink would be used if you don’t want the “rounded, raised” look of puff, but wanted a “squared, raised” look. High density ink also can be printed in “clear”, which produces a darkened, tonal effect on a tee. Pretty neat stuff!

Suede ink isn’t actually suede, but a raised ink with a fuzzy nap reminiscent of suede leather. It’s pretty fun to play with texture and raised design elements as it softens geometric shapes. There needs to be a certain thickness (1/8″ – 1/4″ at least) to any line work so the nap is visible – otherwise it looks like puff. Not good with really large fills or super fine detail.

UV Color Change. To begin with, UV Color Change ink doesn’t work on dark tees at all. If you’re still interested in using it… read on! With this ink, colors disappear indoors but appear when exposed to any ultraviolet light. The colors achieved are bright but tend to lack vividness of regular inks due to their translucent nature. Color remains true on light colored tees such as white, cream or silver. The ink will appear on other light shirt colors, but is unpredictable. In other words, the shirt color affects the color of the ink.

Shimmer is basically sparkly, metallic ink. It’s available in silver, bronze, black and gold. We’ve previously experimented with special formulas for a
pinkish-red shimmer and a bluish-aqua shimmer, but the results ended up looking like grayed-out, non-sparkly versions of the color. It does not hold super-fine detail well and starts to look flat grey in
areas of finer detail.

Metallic Clear. This ink is really cool when printed on top of any ink color. It can be printed on its own also and produces a darkened tonal effect with sparkles on some shirt colors.

Glitter ink has a fairly dense concentration of tiny glitter flakes. It’s available in a range of basic “crayon colors”. We don’t recommend it for tiny details. When it’s printed over another ink, or directly onto a tee, the underlying color can slightly show through the glitter.

Blister. Think puff with dimples. This is super cool, especially when it’s “stacked up” for some great sculptured texture. You want to have a decent fill area or line thickness to allow ink to texture up. Keep in mind that it does tend to get heavy on a shirt, so large fill areas could end up being uncomfortable to wear.

Gradients and gradient blends tend to print with a banding effect similar to how it appears in an Illustrator file. Even if you transfer the file to Photoshop, gradients create a troublesome issue to
overcome, so it’s best to create nice smooth gradients in Photoshop. Gradients can be achieved by using half-tones as well. The lightest halftone that can be printed is about 10%. Sometimes we can accept less than a 10% half-tone, but it really depends on the individual artwork. If need be, we can simulate “process” (CMYK) to achieve very fine gradients or images with high tonal quality such as stylized photography or photo-realistic elements.

Embroidery. In addition to the inks and heat applications you can also now spruce up your designs with a good old fashioned needle and thread.

Belt printing was really popular back in the 70’s and has been making a comeback lately. A belt printer uses huge screens that cover the entire front and back of the garment. It’s great for all-over pattern printing, but can be used in many other creative ways. Belt printing works best on designs with a limited color palette that don’t require tight registration. One thing to keep in mind when designing for a belt printed tee is that the colors used in your design should never touch each other because registration is never exact. For this reason, one-color designs are recommended. Also, the same design will vary slightly from shirt to shirt when belt printing is used, due to the shirt size and how it’s placed on the printer. These characteristics give each individual belt printed shirt a unique look.

PRINT!

Congratulations, you did everything right, your printer hasn’t kicked you out for being a rookie and your going to print! Make sure when you order your shirts you have a few extras for each color so that you can run some samples before going to print. This is needed especially when using discharge as a printing method because the color result varies on the shirt color. You don’t want dozens or even hundreds of shirts misprinted.

Most printers use one of their own sample shirts before printing but the result can also vary based on manufacturer. When you bring your garments to the printer it would probably be a good idea to have them separated first (if you are local) instead of shipping direct. This will avoid confusion later. I personally separate my garments by sex>design>color>size.

Once you have the design ready, and the files and shirts at the printer, you are ready to go!

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About Robert Hartland

Besides running his fashion and lifestyle blog, he also owns Envee Apparel – Artistic Men’s and Women’s T-Shirts. Please send him an email if you have any questions or just want to say thanks.

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How to Choose a Screen Printer

press

Selecting a screen printer to handle your clothing line can often be a tough decision. You want a good price, but you also want good quality. Should you go local so you can see the shop and preview your shirts being printed? Or can you chance going through a printer in another state to get a better deal?

Make the wrong decision and you could be holding a very big box of less than stellar quality prints, or worse yet, shirts that are printed incorrectly.

Usually the best way to find a good printer is through the recommendation of someone who’s used them before. If you don’t have that, this article should help you ask the right questions and know what to beware of when doing your research.

Generally, avoid companies who can’t print more than 6 colors per design (even if your current designs don’t have more than that)

Why? Much of the screen printing industry is still operating out of garages and small shops. If a screen printer can only do 4-6 colors, they either only have manual presses (which usually have more inconsistencies printed over the course of a run than an automatic due to differences in pressure) or they have a very small automatic press.

You also want room to grow and experiment with your art. Even if your first design is only 4 colors, why get established with a printer who can’t handle more?

Look for companies with in-house art departments.

It may seem like it doesn’t matter one way or another, but it really does! Companies who invest in an in-house art department are the ones that are producing films/screen on site and generally have more overall familiarity with the entire production process.

They also probably have been successful enough to afford artists to begin with and likely have a strong commitment to quality art and results. Plus, if there’s a mistake on one of the films, or a screen needs to be re-shot, they can do it immediately instead of waiting on an external partner.

ink

Make sure the company will provide jpg/pdf proofs prior to printing.

Why? Even though you may send quality art to the screen printer, there’s frequently pre-press changes they need to make to your work before it’s ready to go. This is where a lot of mistakes are made. Receiving a proof from their end allows you to double check sizing, colors and confirm everything is still correct.

Watch for hidden charges.

It’s not unusual to see separate charges for films, screens or Pantone color matching. But it’s a good idea to ask if these costs are included in the per shirt price, or charged separately. If you’re comparing prices of two screen printers, make sure you take these into account.

Look for companies who have actual photos of shirts they’ve printed on their site. Bonus points if you can see details.

Why? It’s one thing to see examples of the designs a company has printed, but quite another to see photos of actual shirts they’ve printed. Especially if you’re considering a non-local printer, this may be your best opportunity to evaluate their quality before trusting them with your own design.

Find companies who are passionately committed to quality control.

Why? There’s a lot that can happen to a shirt, even in the best run shop. Shirts are generally hand loaded onto the press, and sometimes prints can wind up a little off-center or poorly aligned. Blowouts (where ink comes through the screen when it shouldn’t) happen all the time, and sometimes in the middle of an otherwise perfect run. These can be minor (outside of the design where they can be “blown out” after printing) or major (white dots that show up on the red part of your print); good shops will make it so you never even see them.

You want a printer who will catch any issues on the way off of press and clean them up or replace the shirts before they even get to you.

Look for companies who have capabilities targeted towards designer prints.

Printers who can handle oversized prints, don’t blink when you say the words “halftones” or “pantone color matching”, offer foil, and have a wide range of specialty inks like glitter, puff and gel have clearly printed more than local school and church shirts.

These are the types of companies who have probably dealt with clothing lines and artists before, and have a good grasp of the special needs of designers who are perfectionists.

Got some other good advice for people who are trying to select a screen printer? Post a comment and help some folks out!

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On-Demand T-Shirt Printing Review – Part 5

Zazzle Review – Better late than never, right folks? Well it’s a few days late, but here’s the final part of our 5 part review of On Demand T-Shirt printers. If you missed any of the previous articles, you can get links to them all by clicking here.

Zazzle
www.zazzle.com

I think everyone has heard of Zazzle; they are the Pepsi to Cafepress’ Coke. I can understand why. This site is designed mainly it seems for people who want to create their own product and not so much for sellers, while it is offered.

The link to access the selling side of things is way at the bottom and says ‘Publish Products’. Wow, why not give it a button at the top so people can more easily find it?

Anyway, I would have to say that the Zazzle interface is the most unintuitive of all the interfaces that I’ve used. During one part of the process I thought to myself, “Ok, my design is ready so I can push the little button that was at the bottom to sell the design and I clicked on a button to select the tee type and the button disappeared completely.

I then went to the main page and lost my design only to find it as an unfinished design. Once I went back in, I was able to click the button and get the thing up and running.

I have to say that setting up a shop on Zazzle is only enjoyable if you enjoy pain. And while I like a little roleplay as much as the next guy, the repeated spankings from their interface got a little old. Getting back to the site, they have lots of shirt colors and they also have the ability for folks to add their designs to the site and make money off of them. Not so unique now huh Spreadshirt?

These guys do digital printing only, no flex, flock, or screen printing here. The file formats that they allow for designs are JPGs and PNGs. Once you accept that you’ve been a Baaaad boy and work your way through their interface, you can customize your gallery (note that they do not call it a shop so pain must be a part of the gallery experience).

You have a Comment Wall where people can talk about your designs and you with them. A cool idea, though I’m suprised that the quotes don’t consist of “ZOMGWTF HOW DID U FIGUR OUT HOW 2SETUP UR SITE?”.

Anyway, other features for your gallery include, a fan club which lists people that love your designs (pretty useful actually), 20 different themes or your own custom one, you can decide which side to put your navigation on (in case you’re a lefty that wants to stick it to the man), and much more. While the site seems very social networking-esque, there isn’t much here for serious designers.

Pros

  • Some premium level features that the other guys don’t offer (comment wall and fan club among them)
  • Lots of shirt colors available
  • You can use your own design or someone else’s
  • Designers can make money here
  • I am in ur site social netwrkng wit ur ppls

Cons

  • Holy crap-tacular interfaces batman!
  • Some additional premium shop features would be nice (No Seriously, like an easy way to set one up)
  • Only Digital Printing here though you could make a nice coffee cup for grandma
  • Do I need to bold the first one and increase the font size or what?
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On-Demand T-Shirt Printing Review – Part 4

Where where you this week?! If you missed it, here’s part 1, 2 and 3.

Wordans
www.wordans.com

A relative newcomer to the online t-shirt printing scene, I’d heard good things of these guys and thought that I should give them a shot. Wordans is located in Quebec, Canada though I’m sure most Quebecians would like to drop that whole Canada part.

Account creation was fast and the only downside for me was that upon completion of the account creation, I was dumped to their main page instead of to their shop creation page. In a way I can understand why they did this, the login is for folks buying and selling, but I guess I had grown used to being dumped right into the shop creation. No biggie though. I found the shop creation link up top and moved on.

I went into the shirt creation interface (they refer to it as their Wordans Experience) and was immediately greeted with a sign of hope. I found Gildan shirts mentioned by name and an icon for American Apparel shirts. I love choice, have I ever mentioned that? Anyway, moving on. Tons of shirt colors. All of them I think (all of the ones available by the vendor that is).

Now on to the image upload. It is built into their Jimi Hendrix… er Wordans Experience as a tab at the top, nice. I had one problem with the Wordans Experience interface… I couldn’t upload images. I remembered seeing an ‘Upload Image’ button outside the interface so I went there instead.

Do you remember where I said that Spreadshirt had two unique features? Well apparently they are unique just like everybody else. Wordans has a very similar “choose your commission” kind of thing except that you decide how much you want to make from each sale in currency.

And that other unique feature, the ability for designers to make commissions when their designs are used and sold on other people’s products? They have that too and more designs appear to have been uploaded than what I saw in the Spreadshirt archives. Good news all around. Where was I? Oh yes, I was talking about image uploading.

Once I used the other ‘Upload Images’ button that I told you about, you are given three choices for your image uploads: PNGs, JPEGS, and GIFs. They recommend a minimum resolution of 1000×1000. You may be saying to yourself, “Great, another digital printing operation” and to that I would say, “Whoa boy” not this time.

They do digital printing, vinyl (flex and flock), and SCREEN PRINTING!!!! Yes folks actual screen printing is available on orders of 35+ shirts. But wait, there’s more. I read in their FAQ that they will also make design changes/improvements on screen printed designs for free with 50+ shirt orders. Niiiiice. And remember what I said about finding Gildan and American Apparel shirts? They also offer Bella (great ladies tees) or the brand of your choice.

I should also mention that their shop also includes being able to select a featured star product, eight templates or you can roll your own in advanced mode, you can add a link to your blog, to your flickr rss feeds, and lots more. In fact, they also have little snippets of code to allow you to integrate your store with your blog or facebook page. Talk about going above and beyond. The only downside from these guys is that their interface needs to be fixed (the upload images button). That would make this site perfect in my eyes.

Pros

  • They do it all, digital printing, flex and flock, and screen printing
  • Easy shop setup
  • More premium level features than the other guys offered
  • Every shirt color from every vendor is available
  • You can use your own design or someone else’s
  • HUGE library of uploaded designs to choose from
  • Designers can make money here

Cons

  • Image Upload button broken in the Wordans Experience
  • Some additional premium shop features would be nice (Just Kidding)
  • I can’t think of anything else *shrugs*

Stay tuned for our final installment tomorrow, we’re taking a look at Zazzle.

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On-Demand T-Shirt Printing Review – Part 3

Jumping into the middle of things? Don’t miss part 1 and part 2.

SpreadShirt
www.spreadshirt.com

To my understanding, Spreadshirt has slowly been taking the world by storm though I don’t want to make too many such comments as they are a German based company.

Their site is nice.

While I haven’t felt the need to mention account creation in my reviews of the previous sites I must say something here. They ask for too much information. We haven’t even gotten to first base yet and you want to know all of my prior flings? Hold on now. If you are a web based business, why do you need to know where I live? This is the 21st century. I could be on any continent running a business. My address shouldn’t matter, but I digress.

Needless to say, the shop creation took a bit longer with these guys than with Cafepress or the ultra speedy Printfection. You do get some nice premium level features for your shop though including: eight shop themes and multiple language/currency support.

When it comes to shirts and colors, Spreadshirt has the most options I’ve seen so far. When choosing shirts, you get to encounter one of the two unique features that Spreadshirt has made their name on… personalized commission percentages.

Want to make 100% commission off of each shirt? No problem, though the price of the shirt does magically double for your customers when you do that… weird huh?

I mentioned that Spreadshirt had two unique features didn’t I? You wouldn’t call me a liar would you?

Seriously though, if you are a designer that has no want to sell shirts but simply wants to sell your designs, Spreadshirt is the place for you.

What does that mean for budding designers? It means that you can make money selling other peoples designs. For some reason that makes me feel dirty.

Going to shower now…

I’m back and feeling much better.

Ok, so besides the Open Source use of designs, what else makes Spreadshirt special? Well they do more than Digital Printing. Great right? Well maybe.

They use flex (aka Vinyl) and Flock (similar to Vinyl) and heat press them. What does this mean to you the budding designer? It means that if you don’t want to go down the Digital Printing path, you are limited to three color designs. Unless you want to use their writable flex (why god? why?) or specialty flex (glow-in-the-dark or glittery) where you only get one color.

If you are into vinyl (the safe word is banana) then this site may suit your needs, otherwise I would suggest that the serious designers move along.

Pros

  • They do more than just digital printing with the addition of flex and flock
  • Some Premium Level shop features come free-of-charge
  • Almost every shirt color imaginable
  • You don’t need to BYOD (Bring Your Own Design), they have lots to choose from
  • Lets you make money when other people sell your designs

Cons

  • Weird site navigation
  • Account creation requires too much information
  • Flex and Flock, while another option for designers, is not suited to designs with high color counts
  • The lack of shirt vendor choice makes me sad across all of the sites thus far

Stay tuned for tomorrow, when we take a look at Wordans!

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On-Demand T-Shirt Printing Review – Part 2

Missed part 1? Don’t worry, you can read it here!

Printfection

Printfection has only been around since 2006 but they have gained a loyal following of folks who have been printing tees ever since.

They give you all kinds of free features for your shops such as allowing custom logos for your shops, nine custom shop themes, and customer search capabilties. Did I mention that it was free? While their website was not the easiest on the eyes, it was and is very functional. Think Soviet era design meets Apple simplicty here.

The setup of a shop took even less time than Cafepress if you can believe that. I was able to create a shop in about a minute. And where did I find the Upload Image button? Under the ‘My Images’ sidebar menu… nice huh?

Once I got there I was presented with the following file format options for design uploads: PNG, JPEG, GIF, and BMP. There goes my Digital Printing Only Alarm again. Serious designers, you may want to hold out for one of the other sites in this review.

Once the images were uploaded I was given tons of garment choices and colors. Much better but again not enough for my personal liking. If I want American Apparel shirts for this design and Gildan for that one, I like to have that flexiblity. Our comrads at Printfection have a you don’t choose shirt in russian designed site, shirt choose you. Overall, not a bad experience. I gotta bust their chops on something right? Da!

Pros

  • Super fast shop setup
  • Free Premium Level shop features
  • Easier to use interface than Cafepress
  • Lots of shirt colors

Cons

  • Only digitally printed shirts pass the Lenin statue on their way out of the factory
  • Again, not for folks that want to have 5 different lines of shirts that you will be selling to Marc Ecko
  • Need I say it again? You no choose shirt, shirt choose you.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at Spreadshirt.

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On-Demand T-Shirt Printing Review – Part 1

If you are reading this, then you have at least some interest in seeing your own t-shirt designs walking around on the hopefully washed masses.

And why not? People of every experience level are now getting into the act. From grandmothers to small children, everyone is getting their budding designs printed on quality cotton tees. What is keeping you from joining them? Well if you are like me, you are hard pressed to decide which of the many websites specializing in printing tees you should choose, to bring your killer designs to the world.

While I can’t promise that this article will change your indecisive mind, I can promise that I will do as much as I can to present the facts to you which will hopefully help in your decision making process.

To do an article like this one, one needs to have a scope.

Do we review sites like joejimbobstshirtemporium.com since he can print yer’ shirts in two shakes of a dog’s tail? Ummmm, not exactly. For this article we want to review web based t-shirt printing sites. If a website prints onto more than t-shirts, I won’t be mentioning it because this site is not called PopCultureMousepads.com or PopCultureCoffeeMugs.com, its PopCultureTees.com and as such we care about things you can wear more than things that clutter up your desk. I have also been a little more selective choosing to go with the most popular and most promising sites I could find.

Over the next five days, we will be comparing the following t-shirt printing sites: Cafepress, Printfection, Spreadshirt, Wordans, and Zazzle. And in honoring our current President, please enjoy the first part of our Online Shirtificator Review.

Cafepress

I would call Cafepress the grandfather of the online printers of t-shirts (and everything else). Having the kind of name that Cafepress has, they are able to charge for things and get away with it. They charge monthly for their premium package ($4.99 and up) for example which includes features like: Custom Page Headers, Category Listings on your page, Search functionality, Email Newsletter sign-ups for user notification of new stuffs, and a Featured Item area on your main page. Our review of a few of the other sites found that most if not all of these features are offered free at the other sites.

Cafepress offers fewer shirt colors as well since they are not solely focused on printing t-shirts. Their interface is fairly easy to use and setting up a shop can be done in about five minutes. I have to say that adding images to your shop is a little less than straight forward. I had to click around on several pages to find a link to upload images. Though a link was in the sidebar as a sub-topic, I found the words Media Basket to have been less effective in being where I wanted to be. How about something like “Your Images” or “Your Designs” or heck, even something like “Upload Images here dummy”? Those would have been more effective but hey, I guess I’m being nitpicky.

So, I arrived at the Image Upload area, aka the Media Basket and found that my image needed to be RGB and not CMYK. No biggie I guess, but that leads me to believe that they are not doing CMYK color separations. Can we say all digital printing? I new ya could. Ok, I understand that they are more geared towards the average Joe Shmoe designer but what about the rest of us? I like to have the option to have screen printing done for at least larger orders (25-30+).

Anyway, back to the image uploads. Cafepress supports different image formats like China supports human rights. With only four flavors to choose from (JPEG, PSD (Photoshop), PNG, and TIF. Sorry no vector based images for you.) you will just need to be aware of that and send HUGE images if you want good quality prints. Do I need to say anymore about Cafepress? Hmmm, I could but I won’t so here are the pros and cons of taking your design to Cafepress:

Pros

  • Easy shop setup
  • Easy to use interface
  • You can have multiple shops (one for church and one for your bar buddies)

Cons

  • Shirts are digitally printed no matter how many shirts are sold.
  • Not for serious t-shirt designers unless you just want to get shirts out there now, now, now.
  • Limited shirt colors
  • Unable to choose shirts from different vendors
  • Premium features will run you $4.99 and up per month

Check back tomorrow, when we post the second article in this series!

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