NEW Design Guidelines for Artists! Updated!

UPDATED DESIGN GUIDELINES FOR ARTISTS

The industry has shifted. And so have we. It’s a new, exciting world of ‘Direct to Garment’ digital printing (DTG). And new times call for new design guidelines. We’ve received a lot of questions about our old 6-color limit, whether we still need color-separated files, about halftones vs. gradients, and why nacho cheese is so tasty. So here are our answers (minus the nachos) in a handy-dandy acronym to help you REMEMBER the new guidelines:

S.P.A.T.E.

S is for SIZING

  • Print-Ready PNG files should all be formatted as a 4500 x 5400 pixel canvas (15” x 18”) at 300 DPI. To avoid submission issues, the final file size should be 25 MBs or less.
  • All Design Mockup images should be sized at 600 x600 pixels, and should be smaller than 350 KB.
  • Design Thumbnails (Derby submissions only) should 186 x 186 pixels, and should also be smaller than 350 KB.

P is for PLACEMENT

  • When designing your shirt, keep all art within the 15 x18 printable window (see image below). Anything extending beyond that window will not be printed.
  • Size and place your artwork within the 15 x18 frame where you would like it to be printed. We’ll use your placement and sizing as a guide for the final production files, but may make some adjustments to improve the printability or wearability of the design.
    Please note that the top of the printable area sits approximately 3 centimeters (1.25 inches) below the neckline. This is the highest we are able to print.

A is for Artwork

We no longer impose a 6-color limit on your artwork. Yep! Our new color limit is NO LIMITS! Your designs can contain as many colors and gradients as you would like. Let the rejoicing begin!

However, if this new “sky is the limit” approach to colors is too ambiguous for you because you’re a person who likes to have a few parameters, then here’s our suggestion: we’ve found that in most designs, 6-12 colors should be more than enough. But feel free to ignore that advice.

Just be aware that using a large number of colors may limit the range of non-apparel products that we are able to print your design on in some instances (such as converting a design to a single color for etching on to tumblers).

T is for Transparencies

DTG printers have come a long way when it comes to printing partially-transparent artwork directly on a garment. But determining how transparent your artwork should is not an exact science. Yet.

For now, you can handle partial transparencies in your designs in one of two ways:

  • 1- Convert the partially transparent art into halftones. We’ve found that halftones of 30 LPI or larger tend to work best. Note: HTs that are 1 pixel or smaller will be choked back and will not be visible in the final print.
  • 2- Leave the partially transparent artwork in your design, but try to keep the opacity at 25% or higher. Basically, err on the side of LESS transparency that you think you might need.

To clarify, the above options are only necessary when the partially transparent pixels are being printed directly on the shirt. Transparencies or gradients that are used over a solid color (to add shading or highlights, for example), are not typically an issue.

E is for Export

Before you submit your art to Woot!, it must be converted to a 15 x 18" PNG at 300 DPI with a transparent background.

Most of the problems we encounter when processing art files are caused by the way a design has been exported. To avoid common mistakes or errors with your export settings, check out this tutorial for creating radical, correctly-formatted Print-Ready PNG files!

Summary: You’ll do GREAT if you remember S.P.A.T.E.!

Weigh in on the forums if you have any questions, and make sure you head over here to download and start using our updated design templates!

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And now you know. And knowing is half the battle!

 ~G.I. Joe
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Is there a preferred technical naming of color layers? Do you want hex colors or pantone?

Hey Parrotworks! Good question. It doesn’t matter what they are named - you can name what’s easiest for you - if that’s “blue,” “brown,” “green,” etc! The important thing is that each color is separated. Thanks!

On the submit page you still instruct illustrator users to leave gradients intact and that you’ll take care of the halftones. This may be confusing as you dont accept illustrator files.

Hey there, @mecos. Thanks for the question. And yes, we can see why that’s confusing. We’re currently working with our DEV team to give our submission pages a much-needed update. So stay tuned for that. In the meantime, if you’re a little shaky on how to create halftones in Illustrator, you can leave your gradients “as-is.” Just make sure they’re on their OWN layer before exporting your file to photoshop. We can still pitch in and help create the halftones with the PSD file. And if all else fails, we can still work with Illustrator files on a case-by-case basis. Hope that helps. Jus let us know if you have any more questions! :slight_smile:

Does this mean that all shirts are now DTG printed, or do you still screenprint new/top 20 shirts? My experience thus far with DTG shirts from Woot (or anywhere else) is that they’re fine until you wash them a few times and then the print rapidly degrades.

Hi there. All shirts are DTG. How long ago did you purchase? We updated our printers a couple years ago and the quality is much improved.

The last time I ordered a DTG shirt from Woot was in 2014 - the colors were dull compared to my screenprinted version and the design started flaking/cracking after a half-dozen washes. If the quality has improved since then, I’d be willing to give it another shot, since Woot has exclusives on a few of my favorite shirt designs, but I’ve bought DTG shirts from a couple of other sites and not been impressed with their durability either.

As a shirt artist, I will agree with TT. Some of the prints are downright exceptional. They have definitely made significant improvements, particularly in the last year or so. I’d give it another shot.

Hello. upload only allows 10MB. I know you prefer .psd files, I exported a photoshop pdf and compressed the file to 28MB. Anyone know how to get it under 10? Or upload a .png without layers? Thank you.

They don’t need your full design in all it’s printable glory, the final file can be emailed or shared via drop box when it comes to it.
Use a “save for web” function and save it out as a jpeg or png at 600px x 600px, 72 dpi

another question!

does the layout within the artboard matter? i ask because i’ve had several shirts where a focal element is supposed to be in the center, but in the final shirt, the overall art is centered, making the focal element off-center. and on some shirts, the design was way too close to the neck. so it seemed to me that you guys where just taking the overall artwork and printing it top center.

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How does this compare with the current submission? (just a flattened, transparent PNG?)

Also, in a more technical level, do solid, non-transparent color gradients need to be converted to halftone?

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Great question @pgallastegui! We’ve updated the guidelines to reflect the new submission process.

And to answer your questions:

  1. Yep! Your final Print-ready art file should be a flattened PNG file that is 4500 x 5400 pixels (15" x 18") at 300 DPI, with a transparent background.
  2. Solid, non-transparent color gradients DO NOT need to be half-toned.

Thanks and let us know if you have any more questions!

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