Artwork specifications

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If you’re savvy with digital artwork technical terms, this page is made for you. If it’s Greek to you, just get in touch with us and we can help!

File types

We can make use of a large variety of files, but we can produce the best results with vector-based art and high-resolution graphics in the following formats:

  • Adobe Illustrator (.ai files)
  • Encapsulated PostScript (.eps files) – if the content is vector-based
  • PDF (.pdf files) – if the content is vector-based

For direct-to-garment (DTG), digital transfers, and other full-color methods, these file types also work great:

  • Photoshop (.psd files)
  • PNG (.png files)

It’s best if your raster (PSD, PNG, etc) files have a transparent background. Ideally your file should be at least 300 dpi at the size you want us to print (i.e., 3000px wide if you want it to print well at 10in wide).

In some cases JPG, GIF, PNG are ok. We can sometimes even work with your Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx) or Powerpoint (.ppt, .pptx) files, but they are not specifically graphics programs, and art fees may apply if we need to work with those file types.

We can make do with various low-res images and clip art, but please understand that they will not look nearly as good as either of the above on your finished product. We may need to re-create all or part of your file, which may involve art fees.

Text

On vector files, please convert all text to outlines. (In Adobe Illustrator, select the text go to Type->Create Outlines). Super small text may not print clearly. In most cases, we recommend just removing Copyright and circle R symbols.

Colors and calibration

We need to know (exactly) what colors to print on your shirts, so please use Pantone Solid Coated colors (ie, PMS 186c).

That shade of red you love on your monitor looks different (darker or lighter, more pink or orange, etc) on our monitors, and different still on each of our printers. CMYK, RGB, and web hex colors are not universal – what they look like depends on the device (monitor, printer, etc) producing them.

So, we don’t use HEX, RGB, or CMYK to specify colors. We use the Pantone matching system (PMS), specifically the Solid Coated colors (the numbers will have a little “c” after them). If you choose that shade of red you love from an actual color book printed by Pantone, we’ll match that red on your screen printed garments. (Note: this doesn’t apply to digital methods like transfers and direct-to-garment (DTG) printing, or even embroidery thread colors).

Beware: if you pick the Pantone color by viewing it on screen, we can’t match that. Why? Because your monitor looks different from our monitor, and it’s not color accurate. If color matching is absolutely critical, stop by one of our stores to select the colors you want us to print, or use your own Pantone-printed swatch books. (Another idea is to ask your local copy shop if you can look at their Pantone Solid Coated books.)

To sum up the color question: for screen printed t-shirts, we need Pantone Solid colors to be specified.

For transfers, stickers, dye sublimation, or DTG, we’ll be printing these digitally, so we simply cannot guarantee color accuracy or matching. For a reasonable fee, we can do some color testing to get closer to your desired target – ask about details when you place your order.

File / image size

This depends on the process we’re using – show us your art and we’ll help you figure it out.

As a rule of thumb, 10in wide is a good looking size for chest art on adult shirts. Only printing women’s shirts? We recommend starting with 8.5in wide as a guide. Backs can typically go 1in wider, or more, and look great.

For standard screen printing, 14in x 16in is the maximum print size. However, in some cases, we may need to reduce this slightly, based on the nature of your design (or the smaller sizes of shirts you order).

Oversize printing may be available depending on the project. It’s also possible for us to do transfers with multiple presses at larger sizes, but only for suitable artwork. Let us know if you have a very large print in mind, and we’ll walk you through options (and things to watch out for).

For most image transfers and vinyl transfers, the limit is just under 16in x 20in (which is huge, by the way).

For embroidery, sizes go up to 11.5in x 16 in.

Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing can usually go up to 15in x 17in (which is huge on a chest).

Please give us a call if you’re interested in a large print and we’ll work with you to try to find the right solution.

We usually specify art size in terms of the width of the design. One exception is individual names/numbers.

Placement

The best way to get placement (on a garment, for example) figured out is to stop by one of our stores. If necessary, we can make an approximate virtual mockup for you that we can discuss over email, but nothing beats standing in front of a mirror here in the store, holding up a printout of your art at the size we’re planning on printing.

We produce hundreds of thousands of shirts every year. If you ask us to put your design in a standard location (center chest, left chest, etc), and we’ll do it like we always do it, which is to say, we make it look normal, adjusting based on shirt size/style and the nature of the design.

If you want something unusual or specific, we can do that, but be warned: we find that our customers who specify placement (i.e., “exactly 3.25 inches down from the bottom of the neck seam”) are more likely to regret that choice than customers who say “center chest, standard placement, please”.

Copyright

You are responsible for making sure you have the rights to reprint any copyrighted material. We will never knowingly print a copyrighted or trademarked design. By placing an order, you are attesting that you have the rights to print all artwork in question.

Check our FAQ page for answers to the most frequently asked questions, and as usual, if you have any questions, feel free to contact us.