NEW Design Guidelines for Artists!

NEW 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 lately about our 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: Forget about it (sort of)! Yes. Sometimes. And we don’t know why but now we’re hungry.

Still need clarification? We’ve come up with a handy-dandy acronym to help explain (and help your REMEMBER) the new guidelines:

S.L.A.T.E.

S is for Sizing

  • All art files should now be formatted as a 15” x 18” canvas at 300 DPI.
  • Keep all art within that frame. Anything extending beyond it will not be printed.
  • Size and place the art files within the 15 x18 frame. As shown in the image below, the top of that frame sits approximately 3 centimeters (1.25 inches) below the neckline. This is the highest we are able to print.

L is for Layers

We test print every design we sell. And we frequently need to make adjustments to the colors within a design to achieve the highest possible print quality. Files with color-separated layers allow us to make these adjustments quickly and with greater precision. As such:

  • All art files should still contain color-separated layers.
  • If your design uses background gradients or halftones, please place them on a separate layer, even if they are the same color as another element in the design. This gives us a greater level of flexibility when troubleshooting printing issues.
  • To avoid confusion, it is best if the last layer of your file is filled and labeled with the appropriate tee color.

A is for Artwork

We’re no longer imposing/enforcing the 6 -color limit. Let the rejoicing begin! However, as a caution: if you use an excessive number of colors, it may limit the range of non-shirt products that we’re able to print your design on. We recommend somewhere between 6 and 12, but you’re free to add as many as you like.

Also, good prints require good contrast! A design that looks great on your illuminated screen, may turn out looking flat or a little washed out once it’s printed if there isn’t enough contrast in the design. So it’s always a good idea to use a little more contrast between colors than you think you might need, especially between colors that are very similar.

T is for Transparencies

DTG printers have a notoriously difficult time with partially-transparent pixels. This is because they can’t print with partially-transparent ink, and they lay down a white base beneath everything they print (except pure black). The result is that any partially-transparent portions of your design that are printed directly on the shirt will end up looking like a muddy, hazy mess.

For example, the design below uses semi-transparent pixels to fade parts of the artwork into the black shirt. This looks great on screen, but the DTG printers are unable to accomplish the same effect and end up producing fuzzy gray blobs, instead.

If you want to achieve this type of faded or partially see-through effect on a part of your design that will be printed directly onto the shirt, you will need to use halftones. We’ve found that halftones of 30 LPI or larger tend to work best.

But halftones are only necessary when the partially transparent pixels are being printed directly on the shirt. It typically isn’t an issue if you want to use partial transparencies to create shading effects or something similar, as long as the transparency is on top of a solid color (see the example below).

E is for Export

We use Photoshop to create all of the print files and sales images for everything we sell. This means every file we receive must first be converted to a PSD before we can use it. If you use a program other than Photoshop, you can save us a little time and effort by exporting your artwork as a PSD before sending it to us.

To export from Illustrator, select File > Export > Export As… In the dialog box, select “Photoshop” from the dropdown menu, check “Use Artboards,” and select “Export.” In the next dialogue box, select “Write Layers” (make sure both edibility boxes underneath are also checked), and select “None” from the anti-alining dropdown.

If you use a different design program, most are still able to export to the PSD format. If you encounter any issues, hit up the forums for advice. And if ever in doubt, sending the original art file in the program you used to create it is always a safe place to start.

Summary: You’ll do GREAT if you remember S.L.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

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.