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How to Setup a File for Printing

Accepted File Types #

We accept the following File Types:

  • Illustrator (.AI)
  • Vector (.EPS)
  • Photoshop (.PSD)
  • PDF
  • JPEG
  • TIFF

We do prefer .AI or .EPS files first because Vector images can be scaled without affecting quality. PSD and PDF files are also great to work with as long as they are created at the correct DPI. We do suggest staying away from JPEG if possible because they don’t separate as cleanly which can lead to printing issues that we cannot control. We do our best to avoid them but we can only do so much.

All Fonts Converted to Outlines #

This is a very commonly overlooked issue. When you’re designing on your computer, the fonts you use in your design pull from the font files on your system. Once the file is removed from your system and sent to us, it tries to find that font on our system. If we don’t have it, it substitutes a system font, destroying your design. To keep you from having to send in font files with your design files, please take one of the following steps:

  • Illustrator (.AI / .EPS)
    • If you are creating your file in Adobe Illustrator, you will need to choose “Create Outlines” on all your text. This allows us to open the file without requiring the font. Click Type from the main menu then select “Create Outlines”.
  • Photoshop (.PSD)
    • If you are creating your file in Adobe Photoshop, you will need to rasterize your type. Much like Illustrator, go to Type from the main menu then select “Rasterize Type Layer” while you have the text layer selected in the Layers panel.

So Many Colors #

There are two important things to remember when it comes to colors: 1. Just because it exists on your screen does not mean it can be effectively replicated when printed. Your design apps allow for millions of different colors driven by either CMYK values or RGB values.

Unless we are process printing which isn’t an option on all garments, we are going to have to assign a Pantone value to that color. While there is a wide array of Pantone colors, there aren’t nearly as many as you can create in Photoshop, Illustrator, or Affinity.

It isn’t an exact match, but we do the best we can to make them as close as possible. To avoid shock or surprise, if you have specific colors you would like us to use, you will need to provide the Pantone color values. The best place to find legitimate Pantone products is at pantone.com.

The second problem: If you don’t provide the Pantone color values, colors can look different on your monitor than they do on ours. It depends on how your monitor is calibrated. Does it sound like we’re making that up? I promise we’re not, swear! You can find out more about monitor calibration and how to address it here: https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/how-to-calibrate-your-monitor/.

Why Vector Files are Preferred #

Unlike pixel-based raster images, vector graphics are based on mathematical formulas that define geometric primitives such as polygons, lines, curves, circles and rectangles. Because vector graphics are composed of true geometric primitives, they are best used to represent more structured images, like line art graphics with flat, uniform colors. Most created images (as opposed to natural images) meet these specifications, including logos, letterhead, and fonts.

Inherently, vector-based graphics are more malleable than raster images — thus, they are much more versatile, flexible and easy to use. The most obvious advantage of vector images over raster graphics is that vector images are quickly and perfectly scalable. There is no upper or lower limit for sizing vector images. Just as the rules of mathematics apply identically to computations involving two-digit numbers or two-hundred-digit numbers, the formulas that govern the rendering of vector images apply identically to graphics of any size.

Further, unlike raster graphics, vector images are not resolution-dependent. Vector images have no fixed intrinsic resolution, rather they display at the resolution capability of whatever output device (monitor, printer) is rendering them. Also, because vector graphics need not memorize the contents of millions of tiny pixels, these files tend to be considerably smaller than their raster counterparts. Overall, vector graphics are more efficient and versatile. Common vector formats include AI, EPS, SVG, and sometimes PDF.

But Raster is Still OK Too #

Raster graphics are best used for non-line art images; specifically digitized photographs, scanned artwork or detailed graphics. Non-line art images are best represented in raster form because these typically include subtle chromatic gradations, undefined lines and shapes, and complex composition.

However, because raster images are pixel-based, they suffer a malady called image degradation. Just like photographic images that get blurry and imprecise when blown up, a raster image gets jagged and rough. Why? Ultimately, when you look close enough, you can begin to see the individual pixels that comprise the image. Hence, your raster-based logo, magnified to 1000, becomes bitmapped before you know it. Although raster images can be scaled down more easily, smaller versions often appear less crisp or “softer” than the original.

To maximize the quality of a raster image, you must keep in mind that the raster format is resolution-specific — meaning that raster images are defined and displayed at one specific resolution. Resolution in raster graphics is measured in dpi, or dots per inch. The higher the dpi, the better the resolution. Remember also that the resolution you actually observe on any output device is not a function of the file’s own internal specifications, but the output capacity of the device itself. Thus, high-resolution images should only be used if your equipment has the capability to display them at high resolution.

Better resolution, however, comes at a price. Just as raster files are significantly larger than comparable vector files, high-resolution raster files are significantly larger than low-resolution raster files. Overall, as compared to vector graphics, raster graphics are less economical, slower to display and print, less versatile and more unwieldy to work with. Remember though that some images, like photographs, are still best displayed in raster format. Common raster formats include TIFF, JPEG, GIF, PCX and BMP files. Despite its shortcomings, raster format is still the Web standard — within a few years, however, vector graphics will likely surpass raster graphics in both prevalence and popularity.