Designing for DTG
Welcome to TeePublic, a community of the world’s best designers with actual humans curating and personally processing each of your designs. Since we use fancy, new, state of the art printing tech, we figured we would let you know just how it’s done.
We print every shirt using DTG (direct to garment) printers. This works just like an inkjet printer (a big, very expensive one!).
We could go the usual route and screen print your designs, but screens can be expensive, (especially for a low print run) and demand an inventory position and limited colors. With DTG printing we can print as few as 1 shirt at a time. This eliminates inventory entirely and you, as the designer, can work risk free! DTG printing is also more versatile; your designs aren’t limited by color or transparency.
We have a team of designers here at Teepublic that look over each and every design to make sure it will print beautifully. Here are a few things that our designers look out for and some things you should keep in mind to help this process go as smoothly as possible:
We print using hi-res PNG files. The recommend resolution is 150 DPI or above, with dimensions set to 1500 x1995px or larger. Of course, the larger the better. We accept RGB files which we then convert to CMYK using our own color profiles.
DTG printers use a standard CMYK color model. This means printing with a mix of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks. Magenta tends to get a little obscured (remember, it's a new technology). Because of this, reds and deep blues in some designs tend to vary slightly. Our in-house designers color correct each design to fix this issue.
Here are some test prints to give you an idea of what this issue looks like, and some recommended CMYK colors to help prevent it:
Since DTG printers use the CMYK color model, there are no fluorescent inks. “Fluorescent” or “neon-like” colors in your design may print a little more muddled than expected. Here is an example of what “fluorescent” colors print like, and some recommended color options that will print as “neon” as possible:
Light color inks on dark colored shirts are printed with an underbase. An underbase is a white layer of ink that the design sits on top of. This is very similar to laying down a primer or a base coat before painting a wall.
Halftones are used in screen printing to create a gradient effect using tiny dots or lines. This is not necessary in DTG printing, but can still look pretty cool in some designs. If halftone dots are too small, too high frequency or just plain messy, the underbase might show through. This added white value around the halftone washes out some bright colors in the design. To prevent this we recommend a halftone frequency of 25 LPI or lower.
Unlike screen printing, DTG printing allows for transparencies. Sometimes on dark colored shirts printed with an underbase the transparency appears gray, or washed out. This is because the transparent color is mixing with the transparent white underbase. To prevent this, avoid transparent bright colors. Since the quality of transparencies are so variable in DTG printing, we recommend converting your transparencies to a halftone set at 25 LPI or lower (see above).
In screen printing it is a common practice to use the shirt color as part of the design. This is usually done to reduce the amount of colors in a print. While this is also possible in DTG printing, it is not necessary. We can print as many colors as you want at no extra cost.
If you decide to create a knockout, keep in mind that you have the ability to offer your design on multiple garment colors. Make sure to only have your art available on the colors that work best with the design.