Optimize your apparel designs for digital direct-to-garment printing.
This channel will likely need to be boosted in the most saturated areas of primary and secondary colors, but it will have a good start as an underbase. The final process is to selectively fade areas back if they show underneath the top colors in a digital proof. You can check this by viewing the image channels and then turning the additional white channel on and making it a contrasting color, like bright green, so that it’s a clear indicator where the underbase may be likely to spread out past the top printed colors.
A final note is that not all colors may be underbased correctly by using the Lightness channel method or a printer’s RIP software, so it is a worthwhile investment to create a color-reference guide for your printer. One way to do this is to use a reference of Pantone colors captured as an RGB image and then imported into Photoshop (Figure 5). This guide can then be digitally printed onto a black shirt using several underbase settings to determine which colors need more of an underbase and which can be left alone. The other advantage of this guide is that it can help with color matching when a customer requests a specific color and there is some uncertainty whether the supplied file will provide the right hue after being processed and printed onto the shirt.
An ironic twist of digital printing vs. screen printing is that designs that are perfect for simple screen prints tend to make the hardest digital prints and vice versa. A simple design with several large areas of solid colors will show any inconsistencies in banding, registration, and ink coverage on a digital printer—not to mention that these are also the most expensive prints to execute digitally. To combat this issue on an artistic level isn’t that hard if you have a couple designs ready and can show a client how the art can be modified for a digital print.
Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to the magazine.