The one thing that no course in the world can teach you is, what to imagine! But, once you have figured out those pictures in your head, all you need is vividness and a foolproof plan to get it printed on a T-shirt.

Here are a few elements of ‘How to’ prepare artwork for T-shirt printing that you would want to follow and avoid, to improve your productivity:

1. Use PMS colours

While most artists prefer working in RGB and CMYK modes; pros tend to use the PMS colours for its dual benefits.The PMS mode uses the most accurate colours when facing a silk screener. Thus, making colour separation a lot easier and precise for the printer.

On top of it, if your budget or design demands a halftone, then PMS is the best way to go. All you need to do is slide the colour scale from 100% down to the halftone value that matches your expectations.

2. Should you convert Text to Outlines?

Unusual designs often beg for unusual fonts. And it could take hours finding or maybe even forging that perfect style.But, all hell runs lose when you find that pinnacle font getting substituted during the design process.

This usually happens out for the following 2 reasons:

  • The embedded font files (TTF or OTF) could be corrupt and cause a misprint.
  • The computer with which you shared the final print PDF had fonts with similar names and substituted the embedded font with one of its own.


artwork for t-shirt printing, urban, streetwear


Even if that’s not always the case, the issues always persist with EPS or native file format. Instead of staying confused with which file-type you could or should use, it’s better to play safe by converting the texts to outlines. This will ensure that your fonts are always treated as images, and the printer’s computer will not attempt to autocorrect it via substitution.

3. Stick with Vectors

If preparing artwork for T-shirt printing is your everyday profession, then we would suggest you do it in vector, as much as possible. Of course, you could also be doing the same thing in raster format and try to elevate those pixels. But, designs created in vector format hold an edge over their raster counterparts. Vector designs turn out to be more detailed and make it a lot easier with colour separation.

Remember this rule of thumb, and you will have avoided multiple revisions in the future.

4. Elaborate Strokes

After following the steps stated above and following a PMS palette, the colour recognition software should not be giving you any more troubles. Still, there could be errors from the human end.

Since your printing guy could overlook the strokes incorporated by you, it is only fair to expand your strokes. You can do so by going to the ‘Object’ option and choose ‘Expand’. At times, especially when working on a great project, this tip could save you from a huge wreckage.

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If there’s one quality that could make your graphic design job more perfect is ‘not to assume things’.

5. Clarity on Specs

If there’s one quality that could make your graphic design job more perfect is ‘not to assume things’. And when we forward our designs to the printer, we are almost always assuming that the final product will match our vision. Since the design is your brainchild, how can you expect the printing guy to intuitively understand its details? Truth is, you cannot.

Hence, it is best to share your designs with the printer as a detailed layout of instructions. This will not only eradicate the chances of error but also help you document the process to ideal designing. Illustrator, PhotoShop or any preferred tool for the trade can be used to create such an instructional blueprint. Or, just sketch it out in a hard copy.

6. Design Artworks for Life-Size

Now that you have clarity of the design specs, here’s what comes next. If you’re preparing designs for humans, then your final artwork should be scaled to full-size. Please do not leave these final steps to the best judgment of your printer. And the reason why has already been explained in the previous point. Defend your project’s production by sharing the exact measures with the printer.

The size of your artwork can be reset under the Document Setup Menu. In case you aren’t sure about what size to use, then use your own clothes for measuring purposes. Just strap a ruler to the shirt you wear and use it to find the ideal proportions.


artwork for t-shirt printing, urban, girl with t-shirt


7. Colour Correction

After doing tons of reiteration and overthinking about what colours to put in your artwork for T-shirt printing; the last thing you want is miscommunication. Specify each colour used in the artwork, so that there is no second guessing to it. Not only that, you will also want to work with the printing guy on what ink system they use. In case their system utilizes Pantone, then a nice shade book on Pantone can help you land the exact design.

If there’s any gap between your design’s colour and the ones available with the print agency, you can still request them to help you match colours. The issue resolves more easily if the print is being done locally; where you could supervise the process. However, for distant printers, you can exchange swatch cards to match with your final design.

But, don’t let the pursuit of perfection get the best of your budget. Always try to limit the colour selections to a threshold value between the budget and print quality. Since each colour demands an additional screen and going multi-colour can escalate things more rapidly.

Note: Photoshop or Illustration? Find out what’s the best software for designing T-shirts here.

8. Trial and Errors

You know your designs and also understand the precautions to be taken while preparing artwork for T-shirt printing. Now it’s the time to get your hands dirty with some real-time productions. Try printing your designs in full-colour at a few different scales, and judge the looks of it on someone. You can also pin the printed artwork onto the respective areas of the cloth, as a cheaper alternative.

Doing so will give you the actual appearance of the final product, and help you dodge a misinterpretation of the design. You know, if the designs appear on the body parts that you didn’t intend to, things could get really awkward for the bearer of your fine designer clothing.

If you really think you are ready to rock the industry with mind-boggling designs and seek projects, then Designhill is the place to be. We receive artwork requirements from all over the world and turn it into a contest. And if your design wins, then there is an endless stream of prize money waiting for you.

Hoping to see you on the other side!

T-shirt Printing for Designers

Thanks to our five years of experience in the apparel-printing industry, we are able to offer a service catered towards the needs of designers and creative directors. Printsome’s apparel-printing services are perfect for streetwear collections, T-shirt lines and merchandise, among many other possibilities.

From the moment you get in touch, one of our ‘printing experts’ will answer all of your questions and find efficient solutions to your needs. It is our mission to help your career flourish. Thanks to high-quality garments and cutting-edge printing techniques, we can produce almost any design. Printing T-shirts has never been this easy.

Why worry about inventory or logistics when we can take care of that? We deal with the boring stuff so you have more time to do what you love. To find out more, simply visit our website.


Experts in making T-shirt printing an awesome experience. Custom clothing solutions for businesses, merchandising and print on demand.

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