How do I create the correct print data for a T-shirt print?


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It is often difficult for laypeople to meet all the requirements for the correct print data . On the one hand you have a file, such as a logo, lettering or a graphic you created yourself. On the other hand, a T-shirt that should be printed as brilliantly as possible with this motif. Customers’ expectations regarding the print data provided and high-quality printing often do not go hand in hand. In this article we explain very simply what we need to consider when creating print data for shirt printing in Dallas.

The brilliance of the print result always depends primarily on the conditions of a print file.

Since no general statements can be made on this topic, one must first differentiate in the type of printing. Depending on how the print gets onto the T-shirt, very different requirements are placed on the file or the motif . At JazzyShirt we first differentiate between “ plot printing ” and “ digital printing ”.

Choose the right file format

Before we look at the individual requirements for print data, it makes sense to first know the differences between some file formats. A distinction must be made between rasterized ( pixel graphics ) and vectorized ( vector graphics ) image files.

Rasterized image files such as GIF, JPG, BMP or PNG


Rasterized image files contain “fixed” image information that is limited to the saved image format. This means that the smaller the resolution of an image file, the less image information is anchored in the file itself. If a print file only has a low resolution, it can only be printed on the T-shirt in a very small format without there being any loss of quality in the print result.

Note : Image files with low resolutions should not be enlarged as this will cause them to lose quality. Image files consist of a limited number of pixels. The number of pixels is also significantly smaller in an image file with a lower resolution. The result would be a “fuzzy” and “pixelated” print result.

As a result, it is advisable to provide the print data in as high a resolution as possible . Because you can always make them smaller, but you can never enlarge them. But choosing the right file format is also essential. In this case, you should avoid file formats such as “GIF” . This format, which can store a maximum of 256 colors, is reserved for compressed graphics for the web.

You can’t go wrong with using JPG, PNG or BMP as long as the resolution is sufficiently large. However, care should also be taken to ensure that these file formats are not saved unnecessarily compressed in an image editing program, as they also lose image information and quality.

Vectorized image files such as AI, EPS, PDF, SVG or CDR

Vectorized image files are not made up of pixels like rasterized graphics. They are created using so-called paths and are therefore completely flexible in their resolution. This means that you can enlarge them without them becoming “pixelated” or “fuzzy”. However, vector-based file formats, with regard to T-shirt printing, are exclusively reserved for monochrome areas. They are therefore often used when printing logos, lettering or graphics with a maximum of 1 to 3 colors.

Note : Although rasterized image files can be saved in one of these file formats, they retain their properties. This means that a JPG or PNG file is not simply a vectorized graphic when saved in AI or EPS format!

Vectorized image files can be created, for example, with programs such as “ Adobe Illustrator ” or “ Inkscape”.

What requirements apply for plot printing?

When we refine a T-shirt with the so-called “plot print”, we first have to decide which type we will choose. You can choose between flex printing and flock printing. They differ in appearance and feel, but have the same requirements for the print data.

We need vector graphics for plot printing

In the plot printing process, we use so-called transfer films to immortalize a print motif on the textile fibers. With this method, the selection of colors is therefore limited to the films available. If the print file is created in vector paths, a special cutting machine can cut out the motif along the curves. Excess film residues are removed by hand (weeding), so that in the end only the required lettering or motif remains.

The following file formats are supported

File formats such as AI, EPS, PDF, SVG or CDR can be easily uploaded via the T-Shirt Designer and placed on the T-Shirt. The colored components are automatically replaced with the next similar foil colors. However, these can also be changed later using the color selection.

Note : With vector graphics it is important to pay attention to components that are too delicate . For example, if a line becomes too thin, the cutting machine reaches its limits. Parts of the film that are too thin would simply tear off and not adhere very well to the textile fibers. For this reason, components that are too delicate should be avoided.

The vector graphics checklist

Our checklist gives you a quick overview of the most important factors that are crucial for correct print data in the plotting printing process.

  • The subject is laid out in curves/paths
  • The created curves/paths are closed
  • The file is saved in AI, EPS, PDF, SVG or CDR format
  • The motif does not have any lines that are too delicate/thin
  • The motif to be printed has a maximum of 3 different colors
  • The areas have no color gradients

What requirements apply for digital printing?

In contrast to vector graphics, pixel graphics also allow the representation of gradients and many image details . Depending on the type of fabric and the color, two types of digital printing are used. Here we use digital transfer printing for white fabrics and digital direct printing for colored fabrics .


For digital printing, we need pixel graphics

Depending on the chosen motif and product, we print the motif or photo directly on the fabric or on a barely noticeable film. The extent to which the motif can be enlarged also depends on the print data and its resolution. If the T-shirt designer determines that a graphic is too large in relation to its resolution, the motif cannot be printed. In this case, it must be reduced in size again or another file with a higher resolution must be uploaded instead.

The following file formats are supported

The file formats such as JPG, PNG or GIF can be uploaded to the T-Shirt Designer and placed on the desired T-Shirt. The required printing process is automatically set depending on the fabric and color.

But vector graphics can also be used in digital printing. Here vector graphics are rasterized in the required resolution and can also be printed using this process if desired.

The Pixel Graphics Checklist

Our checklist gives you a quick overview of the most important factors that are crucial for correct print data in digital printing.

  • Use an image file with a sufficiently high resolution (between 150 and 300 dpi)
  • Graphics that are to be printed without a background must first be isolated and uploaded as a transparent PNG file
  • The file is saved in JPG, PNG or GIF format

Determine the subject size and position

You can determine the size and position of the motif yourself. This is possible in the T-Shirt Designer by scaling or moving the motif. We strictly adhere to this requirement. This means we can guarantee the print will be exactly the way each customer wants it, with minimal deviations.

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