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photograph set up for printing

1130 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  KevinTSM
When taking a photograph, how do you create it to the correct size and format when trying to print on a t-shirt?

I have just started the industry and my first three designs are way to small to put on a t-shirt... any advice is great!
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Since you are doing Photography, it all starts with your camera:

File size has to do with the pixel dimensions of the file. For example, a 12 mega pixel camera would have a pixel dimension of 3000 x 4000 pixels. 3000 multiplied by 4000 equals 12 million, that’s where 12 mega pixels comes from (mega = million). You can choose various file dimensions when you are setting up your camera to take pictures. If you just need small snaps of a party, then you wouldn’t need such big files, but if you are trying to put a design on a tee shirt, you'd need it to be at least the size of the print. Here are some typical file sizes to make certain sizes of prints:

  • 4×6 inch print: 800 x 1200 pixels
  • 5×7 inch print: 1000 x 1400 pixels
  • 8×10 inch print: 1600 x 2000 pixels
  • 11×14 inch print: 2200 x 2800 pixels
These dimensions above are for a 200 ppi file. I like to print at 300 ppi, but very few people will notice the difference, especially if your image is exposed properly and of good quality. That brings me to this – compression quality.

There is no standard way to describe compression. Camera manufacturers use all sorts of terms. Here are a few I’ve come across, but there are several more.

  • Normal – Fine – Superfine
  • Basic – Normal – Fine
  • Good – Better – Best
  • Canon uses these symbols. Smooth is best, stepped is worst quality.

Consult your camera manual to determine which is the best possible quality. My advice: Set your camera on the best possible quality and always leave it there. You can always change the file size, if you need to fit more photos on your memory card.

What the people making films for screen printing are looking for is a file size that is at the size you will be printing. Typically, for an adult unisex tee, the 11 x 14 at 200 dpi is sufficient. But it is always easier to downscale an image than it is to upscale an image. So going above and beyond the file size and compression is generally good practice. This gives some leeway for the persons making the films to adjust as needed.

As far as file format, your camera will not have a lot of choice. Most cameras use either jpg or RAW. For the most part, jpg is what you'll want. Cameras are unable to create vectored files. And since photographs (i.e. jpgs) will always be a raster image, the film maker will be using Photoshop or Corel to create each screen.

How the job will be done is different depending on the image and which substrate it is going on. Typically, dark garments use either Simulated Process or Index methods of creating screens. CMYK for light colored garments. That's not to say each are exclusive. Many light colored garments are printed in Simulated Process or Index. But CMYK is almost never printed on dark shirts.

Which brings us to an alternative. There is another method of printing on textiles called direct to garment (DTG) which bypasses screen creation all together. In this method, there is a modified inkjet printer that uses specially modified inks that load the garments directly into the printer - no screens needed!

Typically, DTG printing is for lower run counts. For example, you'd wouldn't want to run 600 shirts in a DTG machine because it would take a long time to print them all. But if you want to put a photograph on a shirt for a birthday party, DTG machines shine due to the lower cost.

Shirt color, run size, number of colors, cost, and time are factors that determine how the art is set up for screen printing.

Hopefully, I've been helpful
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What size print do you want to do on your shirt, out of interest.
I have printed many photgraphs in all types of conditions, I have had some so bad, with sunlight
flooding the print.
What i am trying to get across is that even if your pic is good resolution, there are many factors in DTG
printing that you will have to contend with, Although I have not seen a picture done on the new Brother GT3 that has 1200 DPI setting available.
With a little experience and some photshop practice you will shoot the problems.
There is nothing else that i can add after Kleans comprehensive and informative post.
Good luck.
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