What is the best computer file format to send to a silk screen printer ?
The Simplest answer is….. Any that can be viewed with out
specific software! Let me explain….. If you create your “artwork” in a program like Microsoft
Publisher, Word or Megasystems Monkeypics and the screen printer does
not have that software, then they will not be able to open it. Use a
common graphics file format like jpeg, gif, png etc. Here is more
Many people know that Personal computers are great for creating graphics, photographs and artwork, and want to use their PC to create a custom image
themselves, expecting that it can just be reproduced onto t-shirts and
other products. Please be aware that the personal computer is just a
tool used by artist and designers to create Professional graphics. And
that most of the graphics you see on your computer and the internet are
designed specifically for the computer monitor and NOT any other form
of reproduction. this is due to many factors.
So, What am I saying?… Keep in mind that even seasoned Graphic
designers rarely understand the limitations and file structures
used for the silk screen printing process. So Unless you are
inexperienced knowledgeable computer graphic designer, anything
you do will most likely need to be re-created for Quality tee shirt
“Does that mean I can’t or shouldn’t create my own art for t
Absolutely not….. Just
don’t expect that a printer can take any file and reproduce it. I’m
telling you this because many people spend thousands of hours on a file
only to find out it is only good for viewing on a computer monitor.
Most real graphics can only be viewed with the appropriate High end
expensive Computer graphics software like Adobe Illustrator. then they
are saved to a jpeg format so the client can see them. This is
something to keep in mind because many clients get these jpeg (
Previews) from a professional and then assume that it can be sent off
for professional printing.
” What about photographs I have that I want printed
onto t-shirt, hoodies and other apparel or garment?”
The easy quick answer to this without getting into to much techno babble is… … ….. ………
Ok, Maybe there is none with out a little understanding of Digital imaging
Digital photography and photographs digitized to be on a computer
are comprised of many small squares of information called Pixels The more pixels
per square inch, the smaller the pixel is. What’s this mean? Well, the
smaller the pixel, the more the resolution or the finer the detail.
Please see Wikiinfo.
Now, with this in mind please remember that most digital cameras are
designed to produce a 6X4 print. Thats pretty small for the front of
even a small child’s t-shirt. However, the screen printing process for
textiles in the imprinted apparel industry uses a much lower resolution
the say offset printing for cards and magazines. These means we can
enlarge the photo some with out it getting to Pixelated or Blurry.
It is also good to know that jpegs ( Joint Photographer Expert
Group) files are also Pixel based images. This means that if you
computer file is High enough resolution it might be used. Keeping in
mind that the color structure is always RGB or CMYK. Let me
explain. RGB or red, green blue refers to the three colors of the
light emitting diodes of you monitor.More Wiki
These may have very bright colors that only a neon ink can
get close to reproducing. and the file is ONLY for computer
monitors , cell phones or TV’s etc.
Cmyk refers to the four colors used like those in your bubble jet
printer. ( Cyan-Blue, Magneta-Red, Yellow and K for Black) these are
the four primary colors and between them can miz to create orange,
green, purple and brown. Then with a percentage of ink or inks they
create tints and tones like Pink, gray and teal. see wiki.CMYK
Having said that, Understand that while screen printing can do
four color process printing, it is difficult and expensive to do an so
usually reserved for large quantity’s of shirts with the same image.
Also the screen print inks ( Plastisol) have a
reduced Gamut.. See Wiki on color gamut
and are subject to color fading with time and laundering.
Most screen print art files use Spot color. This is where every
color produces a separated film for each color of ink. and each
individual color is printed onto the garment.
I hope this has answers you basic questions about having
your artwork printed onto apparel and sportswear with the screen print
process. In my next blog I will cover computer file formats for Direct
Digital printing on apparel. This uses a Bubble jet printer to print
directly onto the garment. As well as heat transfers.
I will do another blog entry for graphic designers who understand
the two types of computer graphics……
Vector also called Postscript&
Raster also calledBit-map.
include such topics as Spot color, tertiary color, duo tone, halftone,
traps, chokes, underlays, dot gain, moire patters, butt registration,
flamingo printing, mezzo tint, tints VS. tones, negative positive
images and much more