Screen Printing - April/May 2013 - (Page 12)
e xpe r t a p pa r e l
Creating artwork for Dtg
Find out how to optimize your apparel designs
for digital direct-to-garment printing.
igital printers designed for producing quality graphics
on T-shirts have reached a new level in quality and ease of
use. But this newer decoration method still has its own challenges. There are particular styles of artwork that fit well with
the digital process; however, many decorators quickly find out
that clients don’t always provide artwork that is easy to
deal with and make friendly for digital printers. Most
of the time, a few simple adjustments to the artwork can be
made so that the work meets the approval of the client and
If you are designing your own artwork for a digital
printer, or if you are buying art from a freelance supplier, it’s
important to spell out certain issues and qualities in the art
so that the final design is easy to produce and profitable. The
most common challenges that can crop up with artwork for
digital printing are design-border issues, underbase concerns,
consistency with solid colors, and converting the artwork to
work best with digital imaging.
Costs and labor
It is best to get a clear idea of costs before you start tackling
figure 1 poorly defined images and background-contrast issues are common challenges
in Dtg printing.
Thomas Trimingham has worked in the screen-printing industry for
more than 15 years as an artist, art director, industry consultant, and head of R&D for some of the
nation’s largest screen printers. He is an awardwinning illustrator, designer, and author of more
than 45 articles on graphics for screen printing.
He can be reached at email@example.com.
art issues with the digital printer. The inks can be very expensive, so any scrap—especially with the tendency for orders of
digitally printed shirts being smaller in volume—can quickly
turn an order from a profit to a loss. A good way to finalize
your cost is to track consumables against the square inches of
coverage in the designs that have been printed, remembering
to add a multiplier for a white underbase. Of course, some designs have more saturated colors than others, but if you have a
variety of designs and then average it, you can at least then get
a measurable number.
The next important factor is the labor involved in shirt
prep (pretreatment or heat pressing) and then the curing of the
design. A final factor that can be difficult to estimate, but necessary with digital printing is a certain amount of cost added
for routine and unexpected machine maintenance. Some
garment printers will help with the estimation of ink used, and
this is great, but the real costs are often hidden in the labor
and extra steps, including pre-testing the design.
The reason that costs are important to nail down before
the art-adjustment process can start is that there are some
orders that are impossible to fill at a profit, depending upon
figure 2 to test color performance, use a garment reference in the graphic’s
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Screen Printing - April/May 2013
Screen Printing - April/may 2013
Keeping Pace With Digital
Creating Artwork for DTG
Perspectives on UV LED Curing
Form and Function: Digitally Decorated Textiles
Diving Into Digital Workflows
Screen Printing - April/May 2013