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Creating Artwork for DTG

(April 2014) posted on Tue May 07, 2013

Optimize your apparel designs for digital direct-to-garment printing.


By Thomas Trimingham

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The reason that costs are important to nail down before the art-adjustment process can start is that there are some orders that are not possible to fill at a profit, depending upon the cost vs. the amount of work that may need to be done. The challenge with creating art for DTG printing is that the lower volume of a T-shirt order may simply not support extensive manipulation of the artwork to make the design look good on the shirt.

Even if the client is willing to pay extra costs to manipulate the artwork and make it work on a dozen shirts, it may not be a good investment if the art will take hours to adjust. This will take time away from higher volume (and more profitable) work.

A way of dealing with this is to have a couple of the basic art processes spelled out, and then draw a hard line on what you and your art department are willing to invest on each job. Clients may have to settle for a quicker art process than they originally wanted, but it’s a win/win if the printer is making a profit on every digital job.

Border issues with artwork supplied for digital printing
A common challenge in artwork for DTG printing is that an image has edges that are not defined and the customer wants it printed on shirt colors that differ from the background in the original image (Figure 1). In these cases, as previously mentioned, a decision has to be made as to how much art investment will be put into the design to extract it from the background. Otherwise, the image would have to be printed as a big square, which is an equally unappealing solution because of the high cost of ink coverage.

There are several quick ways to define a border on an image, but they can vary depending upon the complexity and blending in the edges of the original image. Adobe Photoshop has great tools for extracting the detailed parts of images quickly and creating borders around simple and complex images. You’ll have to work to develop the necessary skills, but, in the end, there is no better tool for prepping images for digital printing.


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