Screen Print Artwork Guide

  • Richard Robinson
  • 6th August 2015

For some of our customers the artwork submission can be a difficult process, and understandably so as there are a plethora of file types and potential variables to get your head around. 

Artwork files generally fall into 2 categories, vector and non-vector. A vector graphic is a piece of artwork constructed of lines and fills, usually created using Abode Illustrator or Corel Draw. These types of files are ideal for us as they can be scaled up infinitely without losing any quality. Dedicated colours can also be assigned to specific parts of the artwork making the colour matching process very easy!

Non-vector files often called rasters (not to be confused with Rastas) or bitmaps are any image that is made up of pixels, for example photographs or full colour images. Adobe Photoshop and even Microsoft Paint work specifically with these types of files. Depending on their compression non-vector files will eventually look pixelated if they are blown up too far beyond their original size. The most common problem I encounter with customer's artwork is low resolution of non-vector files. Company logos often get squashed down in size so they can be easily emailed or placed in a document, and depending on the image will not look great when blown back up to print size. 

The easiest way to tell whether you have a vector or non-vector image in front of you is to zoom in. If any curves/circles remain perfect then you are looking at a vector. If the curves eventually turn into individual pixels then the image is a non-vector. This doesn't mean to say that all non-vector images are bad, they just need to be decent enough quality for us to screen print. 

For a more concise explanation of this please go here.

To avoid using a poor quality image for print the best thing to do is to send me all the variations of your logos and I will pick the best one! It is often the file that the customer cannot open which is the original piece of artwork that holds the best quality.

If you don't know your .ai's from your .jpg's or all of this is too boring for you to bare then don't worry, we are here to help. Just send us your logo and instructions and we will put your design together for you. Every order gets 15 minutes free artwork time which is usually more than enough. If you require something more specific then we can help with that too, we may charge for the time it takes but we will always agree this with you before hand.

Here's my top 10 tips on artwork submission. Some may be more relevant than others depending on your artwork:

1. Expand everything! - If you've completed your complex Illustrator graphic be sure to expand all the objects and save it as a copy to ensure it appears in the same way when opened on someone elses computer. Illustrator will often replace any missing fonts which will drastically change the appearance, usually for the worse!

2. Use Layers - Put each colour on a different layer so they can be easily distinguished from one another

3. Use Groups - Group all objects of the same colour together, so when you click on it, everything is hilighted all at once. This ensures tiny details are not missed.

4. Apply Pantone Swatches - Apply a Pantone swatch to each layer so we can easily tell exactly what colours you would like printing. We mix our inks using the Pantone Coated (C) matching system.

5. 300dpi - This is the reccommended pixel density required to give a clear image when screen printing. If the dpi (dots per inch) is any lower there is a risk of pixelation.

6. Avoid tiny text - its important that all text prints properly so avoid using very small fonts and make text bold where possible.

7. Avoid very fine lines - as hairlines will be lost in the screen making process.

8. Use Solid Colours - We can only print solid colours so avoid use of gradients and opacity as this does not screen print.

9. Number of Colours - We can only screen print a maximum of 5 colours. If your design exceeds this we will use our full colour digital method instead.

10. Print Area - Set your document to be the same size as the maximum print area. This helps us determine the size you would like your print

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