File formats for t-shirt printing

Best File Format For T-Shirt Printing

File formats for t-shirt printing

This post was updated in April 2024 with the most up-to-date information and advice from our expert print and embroidery team.

What file type should my artwork file be?

Preparing artwork for T-shirt printing can be a difficult task, particularly if you don’t have graphic design skills. The most common issue when a customer submits their artwork for custom garments is sending it in the wrong format. This usually ends up slowing down the order process as an order cannot be processed with incorrect artwork. When it comes to the best (or most suitable) file format for t-shirt printing, it’s normally dependent on the quantity required. The guide below, should provide you with all you need to know for orders both big and small.

Scroll below the flow chart after working out the required format, for information on how to get your artwork file print ready.

Preparing artwork for T-shirt printing – complete guidelines based on your order size

The type of artwork required for the most part depends on your order size, as this dictates the process that will be used.

For small orders (less than 50 products per design)

On an order of this size we’ll more than likely DTG Print your design.

File requirements for printing small orders

PNG, PSD or AI file with transparent background (if ordering online PNG format is preferred)

RGB colour settings

Minimum of 150dpi

Artwork sized to actual print dimensions (maximum print size 400x500mm)

The maximum print size on most womens garments is 250x300mm so please scale all artwork smaller if printing onto womens garments & mens.

Artwork in the colours you want it printed (don’t worry if it’s white on a white background we’ll find the design).

 

 

Additional design tips for small T-shirt printing orders:

Please avoid poor quality pixelated artworkfaded edgesdrop shadowsglows and transparencies. Any pixelation will come out worse when printed than it looks on screen. You’ll find our transparency guide here.

Anything in the file will be printed so ensure that the background is clean of any stray pixels.

Please note on this quantity Pantone matching isn’t possible – we’ll endeavour to print as close to your artwork colours as the process allows.

If all-over dye sublimation printing onto t-shirts, please get in touch for a template (only applicable where all-over printing is required).   Start My Order

For Large Orders

(For orders of 50+ products per design)

On an order of this size we’ll more than likely Screen Print your design, unless it’s a design with lots of shades or colours like a photograph.

File requirements for printing large orders

Adobe Illustrator file

CMYK or Pantone colour settings

Artwork sized to actual print dimensions (maximum print size 340mm x 480mm)

The maximum print size on most womens garments is 250x300mm so please scale all artwork smaller if printing onto womens garments & mens.

Artwork in the colours you want it printed (don’t worry if it’s white on a white background we’ll find the design).

 

Additional design tips for large T-shirt printing orders:

Ensure your artwork is in vector format. We only print using vector artwork when screen printing (Adobe Illustrator file). Read more about vector art here.

If your file is not in vector format, we can re-draw this for you, but do charge a small fee for this service. If you are unsure on whether your artwork is in vector format, head over to our vector guide here.

If all-over dye sublimation printing onto t-shirts, please get in touch for a template (only applicable where all-over printing is required).

Speak to a print expert

File resolution: what is the best DPI for T-shirt printing?

The minimum resolution recommended for printing is 150 dpi, the optimum being 300dpi. The higher the resolution, the more detail is held within the graphic.

Best resolution for T-Shirt printing infographic

The artwork should be submitted at the actual print size. This is important as the resolution may be correct but if the image size is small, when it is blown up to actual size it will still be pixelated.

Common design file types explained

PSD file format

PSD simply stands for ‘Photoshop Document’ and is a raster file. In simple terms, this means that the image is made up of pixels with information stored in each one relating to colour and location. If your file has layers, it is best to flatten the image before sending the artwork as the file sizes can be too large to send across.

AI File Format

An AI file is an Adobe Illustrator vector file. A vector image is made up of mathematical points that define the shape of the image rather than being made up of pixels. Arguably, this is the best file format  as it can be scaled to any size without becoming pixelated.

PNG stands for Portable Network Graphic. It is a popular file format designed to replace the well-known GIF format and for displaying images on the web. The main benefit of this file is that it is capable of supporting a transparent background and 16.4 million colours.

What is the best file format for printing?

In short, there is no ‘best’ file format, it’s simply a case of selecting the most suitable format for the order size and design being used. This guide should see you in good stead when printing with us; if you’re printing with another company, assuming they’re using the same high-quality processes as us, the file format requirements will likely be the same (or similar), however, it is always worth checking to be sure.

We provide digital mockups with all bulk orders, and for online orders, our product designer tool makes it easy to get your order as you want it. So whether it’s printed T-shirts, or tote bags you’re after, you can ensure you’re 100% happy with everything before anything goes to production. Unlike many printers a print expert will also check over your design files, to ensure they’re suitable for print, ensuring no nasty surprises when your products arrive.

If you’re still worried about file formats for printing, just get in touch with our team – we’re always happy to help!


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