While taking in the orders for custom t-shirt prints, the most difficult factor we sometimes have to work with is the file type submitted with low resolution. It is one of the biggest obstacles in the production of successful high-quality print. More work is needed to prepare them for printing and occasionally needs to be completely recreated.
In this article, we will discuss the two primary file types you should be aware of, and among them, we will take time to pick the winner.
Which file format is best for printing?
Vectors and bitmaps are the two major used picture file types (or rasters). By a wide margin, the prevalent document type is a vector file. With not many exemptions, it will consistently convey the best conceivable outcome. Bitmap documents can be helpful and surprisingly needed in certain circumstances, like photographic pictures. But, for their usability, they should be of high resolution and little to not compressed at all. This is to achieve the best outcomes after the print. The fundamental element to work with bitmaps is that it's the quality of the file rather than the file format.
What are the Vector Files and Bitmap Files?
A mathematical vector is defined rather than a bitmap graph consisting of a pixel grid. The lines and the form of the graphic components are defined by each point and the way they relate to each other. The colors, gradients, typography, and effects are other data components. The main function of vector files is that they are infinitely scalable, which makes them so important for printing. In other words, without compromising image quality, you may enlarge the file as much as you wish.
Vector Vs Bitmap
A further good aspect of vector graphics is that they are far less than bitmap graphics in file sizes.
You have to save the data for the pixels you see in the bitmap file, whether it is black, white, or different gray colors describing its boundaries. Instead, the vector data file just has to hold the data for the neighboring points and fill color for each of those points. As the bitmap picture increases in size, the graphic edges become increasingly fuzzy or pixelated. In addition, the file size itself increases since the amount of pixel data that it has to hold increases exponentially with the image size.
We could only make a long boring mathematical lullaby be this short to make you stop yawning halfway. Hang on there, all the important small titty-bitty stuff is coming right away. Don't fall asleep on this article yet though I know this isn't the most exciting stuff you are reading today.
We will head towards what file formats to submit for custom t-shirt printing only after there is some light needed to be shed on resolution and compression. Because they are both important components of the quality image.
What does resolution mean?
In essence, an image resolution shows the level of detail that it can contain, which is highly essential for printing. The more details the greater the resolution. In particular, the number of pixels measured in pixels in inch (PPI) or dots per inch is given to graphical files (dpi). And better, the more pixels. The online pictures usually measure 72 dpi, which represents the resolution of most computers on the screen, but is much less than the printing solution.
What is Compression?
Compressed images are the process by which an image file is encoded or converted to take up less space than the initial file. Compression means that we acquire lower file sizes to facilitate storage, sending, sharing, and posting online.
Two major compression kinds exist: lossy and lossless. The quality of the images will be reduced to different degrees, you may have predicted. Lossless leaves the quality maintained while the file size is still reduced. You usually want to store your compressed picture files, such as TIFF or PNG, with little to no loss. While JPG and JPEG formats too can do the same, high levels of compression of the image can make it go useless.
Image file Formats
Here, you can see JPG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, RAW, PSD are basic bitmap or raster images file formats whereas PDF, EPS, AI, and SVG are vector images file types.
The three most typical vector files for printing are as follows:
PDF (.pdf) One of the most common forms of files, and for good reason, which stands for Portable Document Format. It is developed to be standardized so that almost any operating system may be accessed or seen. PDFs can also contain “rich media '' such as GIFs, 3-dimensional objects, and video clips but bad news, technology isn't there yet! We can't print GIFs and Clips on our clothes. Just Yet! Who knows? Someday maybe?
EPS (.eps) which means Encapsulated PostScript. It is an automatically confident format, therefore it is ready for action. It is a safe format. Several programs, including Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign, can save EPS files, even CorelDRAW, not MS OFFICE, but that's all right! Anyway, we don't need it!
AI (.ai) is the native file type of Adobe Illustrator. We adore this since this is the main vector graphic program. A free application named Inkscape appears good if you are in the market of a competent vector manufacturer, but do not have the cash for Adobe Illustrator.
Here are the three of the top bitmap/raster file types for printing:
JPEG (.jpg) is to encode pictures, short for Joint Photographic Experts Group. It is at the present default picture format and is also the most prevalent. It is great for rich gradients and colors. JPEG uses compression, therefore every time you save it, one downside is a loss of data. More about compression. It is preferable to save it as a PSD or TIFF to minimize loss if you deal with a huge photoshop file.
TIFF (.tiff), which stands for a targeted images file format, has been created as the format of an interchange between the scanner and the printer. Over the years, photographers and graphic designers have made it quite popular because of its superb compression. Image files are generally bigger than JPEGs, but the compromise is worth keeping. TIFF files allow vector paths and layers (outlines, clipping masks, fonts, etc).
PSD is just a document from Photoshop. It is the native format of Adobe for its standard application of industry graphics. For decades now Photoshop has been above the rest head and shoulders. When you're looking for something similar free, Photopea performs most of what Photoshop can do. It is a wonderful online application accessible.
Not all these file formats are necessary for t-shirt printing. Vector always has superiority against raster images. Though we have already covered the part where we can work with bitmap or raster images and conditions for that.
We are not here today to go through and about all the file types. So we are going to dive straight into the matter of priority.
What image file format for the t-shirt print? Yes, yes, we are getting there. In fact, now!
Before getting right into that, let's take a moment to talk about the ideal file size or resolution that is. We typically ask for at least 300 dpi full-size picture files uploaded. The full-size portion is important; we often obtain better quality files, but the actual size of the image is a fraction of the size that we print. Thus your file should be at least 300 PPI at the time of 12′′w x 14′′h if your image is for a full back print.
But only because we ask for at least 300 DPI, doesn't mean that a large file size like 500-700 dpi is better. No, that's not it. As stated earlier, the actual size of the image is a fraction of the size it is printed. Just don't overdo it is all we say or underdo it by no means.
The maximum T-shirt size area is 12x16" however we advise you to use any template you may discover in advance to make yourself a better idea. If you want the highest printing quality, your print file must also be at least 300 DPI. However, it also depends on the size of the shirt.
Finally, coming to answer the question, your t-shirt design for the best should be submitted in vector format. This is most likely an AI, PDF, or EPS file.
Which among AI, PDF, or EPS?
Every format works, but if you're uncertain, pick a PDF because it's the most adaptable one. You will get a file in one or more of these forms from your designer, depending on the program or software they are using for the design, such as Adobe Illustrator or InDesign, etc. Next time you create your own, you will need one of these.
Furthermore, if your printer has unique colors, you may require particular color codes. Make sure you have the color codes of Pantone or CMYK so that all looks how you prefer.
If you want to rather work with raster images, thanks to their high-quality resolutions, the most approved print formats are PNG and JPEG. Although PNG and JPEG are acceptable formats, we suggest that you send your embroidery files in EPS format. This one is easier to print and is more considerate to the material or garment.
T-Shirts have a distinct texture and feel when printed, and many printed logos seem somewhat different depending on the materials used. That is something you should always keep in your mind. And this is why before submitting your cloth material for printing, take a minute to thoroughly understand their type.
In between the two raster images, is PNG or JPEG of higher quality?
The quality of PNG is superior. Although JPEG is a decent format on its own, it utilizes lossy compression, which means that if you change it, you will lose some crucial information. PNGs, on the other hand, are often heavier than JPEGs, so consider the size of your photos before submitting them for printing.
How many pixels does a T-shirt design require?
The recommended resolution is 200 DPI with a maximum of 4000 × 4000 pixels since it does not exceed 10MB and is quicker to load.
That's it! That's it for today!
Whew, we tried to make it short and less boring, I promise. But if you think there is more information missing and you want help with designs and custom t-shirt prints, please reach out.
Happy Designing Folks!