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How to Prepare Artwork for T-Shirt Screen Printing


It may seem simple to prep artwork for screen printing, and it is, but there are a few key steps you should go through before sending it off the printer to ensure you are happy with the results and not left with a pile of shirts that don’t match your vision!

Screen Printing machine for T-shirts

Screen Printing machine for T-shirts

Decide the Size & Placement of Your Design

There are some standard sizes and placements that many printers recommend, but the best way to decide what works best for you is to create a real life mock up.  Print your design out in full color at a few different scales and see how it actually looks on the body.

Convey Specs to Your Printer

Once the size and placement is decided, you need to convey this information to your printer.  If you’re printing with artwork in a standard location at a standard size, this may not seem necessary, but it’s best to provide detailed layout instructions to your printer so they know exactly what to do and there is no margin for error.  Additionally, this creates a paper trail of your instructions so if anything comes back wrong, you have notes on how it was supposed to be.

nwFull Scale Artwork & Color Callouts

Specify the full scale size of your artwork to ensure it prints at the correct scale. It’s often wise to provide the printer with the artwork file at full scale so no changes are needed.  You’ll also want to make sure your printer knows what ink colors you want to use! Check with them to see what ink system they use that you can match. Otherwise, work with your printer and see what they can do to help you match your colors.

All of this may seem like overkill or too much work, but when you’re investing in product, you want to make sure it’s done right and you love the final result. Going through each of these steps will absolutely ensure your designs are executed correctly and you’re proud of the final product.


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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