There are a number of different ways to create authentic looking, distressed styled artwork that’s suitable for digital Direct To Garment printing. My name is Chloe, I’m a Graphic Designer here at Icon Printing and I’m going to show you what I think is the easiest way to create this artwork effect. I shall be using Adobe Photoshop for this tutorial, this is a great way of making your custom t-shirt printing designs unique.


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 – or on 0207 183 8431



This is a quick tutorial on how to save your artwork ready for DTG (direct to garment) printing.

Here are a few pointers to remember:

When creating a .PNG file to be DTG printed, make sure your artworks colour mode is set to RGB – otherwise it will not save as a .PNG file.

The best file type to create a print from is either an Illustrator .ai or .eps file (a vector file) or a high resolution .jpg file – that is at least 300 dpi and saved at 100% of the intended print size.
For more information on DTG printing in general, take a look here.
So, this is how you save a 300 dpi image in Photoshop as a transparent PNG for DTG printing.

To make things a little easier, we’ve made you a lovely PNG template – click here to download and follow the instructions.

Now create your artwork. If you’re using a logo you’ve made, a photo you’ve taken or even an illustration you’ve created, make sure it’s not sitting on a white background (unless you want it to), as this will print. For example…

How to save a PNG file

Once you’ve created your artwork, it’s time to save it. You can maintain the transparency on the file, as we’re able to print full alpha, but remember any transparent areas will show the colour of whatever shirt you chose to print onto.

Having used our downloadable template, your file will already come up as a .png so just rename it and hit save. Don’t worry about the layers warning that may come up, your file will still save fine. A small PNG options window will then pop up, just tick the NONE option and you’re done.

How to save a PNG file

Any questions on direct to garment printing? Give us a ring!

0207 183 8431

This is a very quick and easy step-by-step tutorial on one of the most essential requirements to sending artwork to print.

Here at Icon Printing, we often have to manually edit artwork because text has come through to us as an ‘active’ typeface. This basically means it is still editable, and if we don’t have the typeface you’ve used on our system it will convert to a default font and your design will all of a sudden look very different!

Converting type to outlines – also known as “expanding” it, essentially means you are turning it into a graphic. Once this quick process has been done to all your type, you will no longer be able to edit it and neither will we – which is just what you want.

Step 1.

Firstly, always try to remember to make a copy of your design to convert, don’t alter the original – that way you always have something to edit, should you wish.

Step 2.

Once you have your (copied version) artwork ready to go, select the text. At this moment in time your text is still editable and a box will appear around it – like shown below:


converting text to outlines image 1

Step 3.

Your text is now ready to convert.

Using the top menu bar, go to: TYPE > CREATE OUTLINES


converting text to outlines image 2

Your selection will now look like this:

converting text to outlines image 3

Each letter is now its own graphic/vector. You can move them, alter their size, shape and colour – but you can no longer type into this selection or change the letters or wording.

You’re done! This is now ready to send through to us. Don’t forget to to this to every item of type, including glyphs (posh word for additional letter forms or marks available within a typeface) and you should have no problems!