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Creating Artwork for Direct-to-Garment Inkjet Printing

(March 2008) posted on Mon Mar 10, 2008

Reaping the benefits of digital imaging on apparel requires command of art preparation. This article describes how to set up garment graphics for inkjet printing and examines the variables associated with this method of decoration.

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By Thomas Trimingham

You should generate references on both light and dark shirts (the latter if your inkjet system offers a white option) so that you can estimate the final color that you will get from the digital file you’re printing. You can then use these printouts as a guide to compare the color values when you are preparing a digital file. Do the color values (CMYK numbers) match up to make a royal blue for the royal blue in the source image? If they don’t appear the same, then odds are you won’t be getting the color you wanted.

For color-sensitive jobs, it is very useful to make a hue set of colors for the colors that you want to hit. Say, for example, that you want to match a front print on a garment to the ringer color on the sleeve. The best way to go in this case would be to print out the closest example color that you have and then create several different versions with slightly varied hues or a selection of PMS colors that seem close. Print this file out on a test fabric or test shirt and you should be able to pick the closest color match.

The RIP you use can affect the gamut range. RIP software explains to the printing device how the pixels are to be set up and printed. The RIP software could be proprietary or a third-party solution, depending on your specific device. RIP settings can dramatically affect your colors. You should always check with the manufacturer and use the recommended settings first, then test some other settings at a later date. If you have continually poor color output that looks like the whole color table was shifted over or is low on gamut (too dark), you may have a problem with the RIP or incompatibility.


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