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One very popular item we often find ourselves customising, is the trusty tote bag. We are based in Shoreditch, east London – and in this area you can’t walk two minutes down the road without seeing one dash past you. Londoners love them. That’s why they make such great promotional items, merch and give-aways. For high volume orders, getting your tote bags screen printed would be your best bet and they will last super well. For more of a promotional ‘hand out’ bag, totes that are digitally Direct to Garment printed are a fantastic option.

 

Here’s an example of a DTG printed canvas tote…

digital Direct to Garment Printed canvas Tote bag

 

We printed these natural canvas tote bags the other week for the Courtauld Institute Of Art, they were designed by Bullet Creative. These were digitally Direct to Garment printed and as you can see, this particular print technique has handled reproducing this “painting style” image really well. Even though canvas tote bags often do have a slight texture to them, DTG printing can still adhere to this particular surface very nicely, with the full colour artwork not suffering at all.

If you have any questions about any of our printing techniques, drop us a line at: sales@iconprinting.com or give us a ring on 0207 183 8431. For more info on Digital Direct to Garment printing on t-shirts and tote bags take a look at our website.

 

Here are a few important pointers on what not to do when creating your artwork. By following these guidelines it will maximise the quality of your screen printed garment.

1. Web Images

Using images from the web can be handy, but note that most of the time these images are very small and set to only 72 dpi (very low image quality). Web designers use the lowest resolution and size possible so that their pages load fast while keeping the images looking good. Due to this, the image downloaded is designed to look good at the relatively small size it appears on screen and not printed out here in the real world. When it comes to screen printing, these forms of photo images should be avoided altogether – but vector based images are absolutely fine.

 

screen print 1

As shown above, many internet images are very pixelated and blurred.

2. Details

Try to avoid very small negative spaces as they can fill in or “bleed”. Ink is a fluid and therefore spreads a little bit by nature. So a very small negative space (such as the words “Screen Printing” – shown in the image below) can be filled in by the ink that surrounds it pretty easily. However, there is no hard and fast rule for avoiding bleed on small type/detailing, so every piece of artwork will be evaluated on a case by case basis. However, a good general guideline is to use fonts at or above 12 points and lines or outlines stroke size larger than 0.3 pt.

 

screen print 2

The fine or “light” version of this typeface is not a good choice, the hairline box detail also wouldn’t print.

3. Illustrator Effects

Illustrator has some cool effect options, but you’ve got to be careful when using them – especially when creating artwork for screen printing. Try to avoid drop shadow or gradient effects. These often look good (at first glance) and add dimension, but they complicate your file by mixing image types and this type of effect doesn’t translate to the screen successfully. If you do want a slight shaded area effect or gradient within your design or logo, it will need to be made up of a series of very small dots (when viewed close-up) that from a distance, create the look of a gradient or difference in tone. It is more time consuming, but the outcome is a much better print.

 

screen print 3

4. Transparencies

In Illustrator, when two shapes overlap and the one on top has opacity set lower than 100%, the color of the shape below it will affect its color. For example (see below), when the circle on the bottom is red and the one on top is blue with 50% opacity, the overlapping portion is violet. But when it comes down to printing, it almost never works out like that due to unpredictable ink transparencies and intermingling pigments. If you’ve got a red + blue = violet type scenario, use a spot color violet instead of transparencies.

 

screen print 4

5. Problem Colours

Inks have varying degrees of transparency. A few color ranges are very transparent and do not look good when printed on a particular colour under base – whether that’s another ink layer or your actual garment colour. This can leave areas looking splotchy, washed out and generally poor. Darker blues tend to be one of these and, unless you’re printing on to white garments, avoid using them. Another one to look out for, is bright fluorescent inks, they too are very transparent and tend to lighten up and lose brightness when printed on an under base.

If you have any questions about your artwork, we are here to help! Drop us an email or just give us a ring –

sales@iconprinting.com or on 0207 183 8431