The 6 Secrets You Will Never Know about Screenprint Artwork

Artwork Secret 1

All artwork entering the art department for clean-up and print preparation MUST have an order number. This eliminates any confusion about who is writing the order and makes it much easier to reference the art if any changes need to be made or for future reorders. If a customer is providing art for a pricing quote on art charges before placing an order, please ensure this is clear when giving it to the art department.

Artwork Secret 2

The definition of “camera ready” art is different for the screenprint process than with embroidery. The first step art must go through in this process is to make a “positive” of the art. This can be achieved by printing onto clear vellum on the laser printer or by shooting art with a camera in a darkroom and developing a positive. Positives are then used to bum the screens through which the screenprint ink will be printed. Printing art onto vellums is less expensive than using a darkroom camera and requires much less setup time, so this is the preferred method whenever possible.

Seattle has some of the top-notch print screenprint companies in the Northwest, like Northwest Custom Apparel

Artwork Secret 3

A good-looking logo on a t-shirt is only as good-looking as the art printed on a positive. JPEGs are not camera-ready artwork. Within embroidery, JPEGs work fine as a reference to be digitized from but do not work very well for screenprinting. The JPEG format was created to compress digital pictures so they could be easily transmitted over the Internet for the primary purpose of on-screen viewing. While the resolution of JPEGs is perfect for computer monitors, it leaves blurry colors and choppy edges when printed. When the art department receives a JPEG, it must be redrawn and reformatted, which will end up being charged 75.00 dollars an hour. There is an exception if the JPEG is provided at a very high resolution (see paragraph below). The easiest way to eliminate this extra work is to ask customers to provide artwork best suited for printing.

Artwork Secret 4

Which formats are best for printing? Ideally, screenprint art will have crisp edges, black at its maximum opacity, and precise color separations (if more than one color). The formats that work best for this are CorelDRAW (CDR) and Adobe Illustrator (AI and EPS). We use PCs, so Mac files cannot be accepted unless converted to a usable PC format. All fonts should be converted to curves. We can also accept high-resolution .tif files as long as the art is provided in the desired printing size and at a resolution of at least 300 dots per inch (dpi). High-resolution GIF and JPEG files can also be accepted, but only if they are at a resolution of 300 dpi.

Artwork Secret 5

Ad slicks are the best non-digital format we can accept. Ad slicks are professionally printed logos on high-quality white backing. If a customer does not have a digital file, ad slicks are the next best thing (if they have them available). Also, high-quality laser prints work well. The key factor is that the customer’s art has very opaque ink and clearly
defined edges. These make for clear scans converted to computer files, thus creating better positives.

Artwork Secret 6

Color separations are best provided in the. AI, EPS, or. CDR formats. Any other format will require our time to separate the colors and prepare them for printing. Another option is to provide pre-separated art in multiple TIFs ( or similar format), with a separate file for each color to be printed. We are capable of spot printing up to 6 separate colors. We cannot do process printing, which blends colors and is used for printing photographs and other graphics with many different colors.


About Erik Mickelson

Erik Mickelson is the author of Northwest Custom Apparel's blogs. Erik has been with Northwest Custom Apparel since 1996 after graduating from Washington State University and is the founder of the Apparel Graphic Academy. Trained by the custom graphic apparel industry's best, Mark Venit, Erik brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Embroidery Adventure blog. As they say, 'Experience is the best teacher.' We are proud to have Erik as part of our team!

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