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What's The Deal With Transparent Backgrounds?


You may have noticed that many designs on TeePublic aren’t rectangular; they’re the shape and size of the design, and nothing else. That means that those designs have transparent backgrounds.

Still scratching your head in confusion? Don’t worry! Here’s a guide to everything transparent.

What is Transparency?

“Transparency” refers to the process of adding an overlay in Photoshop, whose end result is making a design’s colors less vibrant and sharp. We suggest keeping your transparency at 40% or greater (ideally 100%) to avoid any issues at the printer.

What are Transparent Backgrounds?

A “transparent background” refers to the negative space that’s created when the background is erased from a design. It’s represented in Photoshop by that checkerboard pattern you see in the GIF below.

Transparent backgrounds are especially useful for hand-drawn and scanned artwork, or for images that were created with a white or color background that you want to print on a garment without using a lot of extra ink.


Why Do We Suggest Using Transparent Backgrounds?

We suggest that artists use transparent backgrounds on their designs wherever possible for ease of use across all products and colorways. For example, how your design is represented on a black t-shirt may be very different than how it appears on a bright pink phone case, though you think the design would look great on both.

So why not keep it simple? Knock out those backgrounds!

How Can I Knock Out Backgrounds?

Now that you know what transparent backgrounds are and why we care about them, you might be wondering how to get rid of your own pesky backgrounds. Wonder no more: Here’s our guide to knocking out backgrounds!

When aren’t transparent backgrounds a good idea?

Say you’ve got an incredible design (like "Neon Lights" by greenishsapphire) that has an incredibly intricate background; you spent hours crafting it because you knew the background would be an important part of the piece. In that case, keep the background! Knocking out the background would make it look unmoored from the layer of dimension and beauty that you've created.

In that case, keep your design as is for posting on either all or some products in your TeePublic shop. Easy!


There you have it! We hope that you learned more about transparency, transparent backgrounds, and why we suggest what we do. If you have any other questions about this, though, feel free to reach out to [email protected].

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