Screenprinting Color Guidelines

Screenprinting uses pre-defined or “Spot” colors. Spot colors are exact color formulas that cannot be changed by adjusting variables like contrast, brightness, hue, tint or saturation.

For the most accurate screenprinting, design your work using Pantone™ (PMS) SOLID COATED (C) color palettes. You’ll notice that Pantone has a number of codes ending with the letter “C”. DO NOT use Un-Coated (U) palette colors, as they are not for printing.

Many popular graphic software programs including Adobe Photoshop™, Adobe Illustrator™, CorelDraw™, and Corel Photo-Paint™ have Pantone™ colors built-in. Other programs such as Microsoft Word™, Excel™, Publisher™ and PowerPoint™ create graphics only using RGB colors.

Advanced software programs come equiped with HELP guides to show you how to properly use Color Management Tools. Alternatively, give us a call and we will be glad to help.

Click here to see all available screen printing colors.

Image Quality – Avoid Graphic Cheats

Many novice users of graphic software do not understand how to properly create artwork objects or how to edit or delete parts of them using tools in most software packages. A graphic cheat is an error prone solution to hide objects or colors which “you think” will not be printed or embroidered, but then unexpectedly show up anyway. This is the wrong way to edit artwork for screen printing or embroidery!

A graphic cheat takes a shape, square, rectangle, circle or line, and then coloring that shape to be the same color as the background or some other color in order to attempt to hide a portion of the design that you do not want to be seen. This may be fine for one dimensional photo editing or JPG or BMP images to be displayed on a website, but for screen printing or embroidery, it creates a mess, errors and odd results.

Embroidery and graphic design software works by using vector information to create objects, shapes and layers. These objects are built into a file and are part of the design. Attempting to put an object over an object just creates more objects and layering errors. You cannot simultaneously have foregrounds as backgrounds and backgrounds as foregrounds. You cannot have a color or background which is supposed to be “transparent”, used as a color to hide something else! “Transparent” means you can see through it! You cannot have objects which are both visible and invisible at the same time.

This creates conflicts and logic errors during production and unintended results. Embroidery software sees every object and attempts to setup stitching regardless of its position in your layering scheme. The same applies for screen printing software, which uses separate screens to layer up each of the colors in your design. The more you cheat using a colored object to hide another object in graphic software, the more layering errors you create when different colored screens are created. What you thought was hidden really isn’t!

DO NOT use graphic cheats! It creates improper print or embroidery results. If you are creating your own design, artwork or logo, learn how to use the editing tools which are easy to use regardless if you use Photoshop, Illustrator, Corel or any other high end graphic design software.

Properly creating an object and editing it to remove invisible or hidden objects is the proper way to create artwork and avoids unforeseen errors! When you supply your own design, artwork or logo files, we do not take responsibility for these types of errors.

Understanding DTG™ Printing and INK COLORS

DTG™ (Direct-to-Garment) printing offers UNLIMITED COLORS using Precision Controlled Computer Equipment to apply High Quality Textile Pigment Ink directly to garments or fabrics. The method used by DTG™ to print colors is referred to as four-color process printing because it uses four primary ink colors called CMYK.

If your artwork has fine lines, details, subtle color, shade, or contrast variations, it’s best to go with Digital Printing. It offers extremely high resolution printing at over 720 DPI with unlimited colors and effects.

Screenprinting uses Pre-defined or “Spot” colors, which must be clearly defined and identified as such. Most professional graphic artists will always provide artwork AND a detailed color assignment list along with their artwork. Spot colors are exact color formulas which cannot be changed by adjusting variables such as contrast, brightness, hue, tint or saturation. The most accurate colors will result if your artwork, logos or images are ORIGINALLY designed using Pantone™ SOLID COATED (C) color palettes, they have number codes ending with the letter “C”.

DO NOT use Un-Coated (U) palette colors they are not for printing. Why are “spot” color assignments so important? They guarantee that a color choice is accurately printed as chosen by the artist or their client!

Custom DTG Printing Do’s and Don’ts

DO NOT create designs for DTG printing using RGB Colors! All you will get is poor print color results. Proper DTG color printing will result if your designs are created using Pantone™ CMYK PROCESS color palettes. Pantone™ CMYK process colors are created using ink versus RGB colors which are created using light. RGB colors cannot be accurately printed with ink, which may produce odd color results or shifts especially with blues, yellows and greens.

Every computer monitor has different settings which alter the color hue, brightness and contrast of images. All computer monitors display colors using light generated RGB colors, while shirt printing uses ink Pantone or CMYK colors. CMYK process colors cannot be accurately previewed on an RGB computer monitor, since CMYK colors only exist in ink and not light. WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) is not true for previewing an ink print on a RGB monitor. Yes, it’s a dilemma, but one we cannot control.

DO NOT use automatic color conversion tools to change from one color mode to another! For example, the most common error is auto-converting RGB to CMYK. Blues will shift with a tint towards magenta or purple, yellows tint towards lime or green, reds become darker or tint towards brown.
DO NOT use images posted on the internet, they are always in RGB colors and have extremely poor resolution, typically 72 or 90 DPI. Images copied from the internet always produce extremely poor printing and odd color results. Make sure you only select Pantone Process Color Palettes as listed without changing variables such as brightness, contrast, hue, tint or other variables.

DO NOT use graphic software to increase a low-resolution image to something higher, the result will be a larger, fuzzier version of what you started with, you cannot magically take something with poor resolution and make it better.

DO NOT add colored transparency layers over top of other colors, all you will get is unusual print results, including but not limited to darkened colors, unusual colors or weird color shifts. Color layers on top of color layers change color values to something you may not want. Any changes from the pre-assigned color values may create unexpected results, since there is no such thing as brightness or contrast in ink.

Many popular graphic software programs including Adobe Photoshop™, Adobe Illustrator™, CorelDraw™, Corel Photo-Paint™ have Pantone™ Colors built-in. There are HELP guides to show you how to properly use Color Management Tools or give us a call, we will be glad to help. Common programs such as Microsoft Word™, Excel™, Publisher™ and PowerPoint™ create graphics, BUT those programs only produce files using RGB colors!

Send Original Artwork, Photos, Clipart at 300 DPI, at the true size you want printed. Resolution of any image is very important for high quality printing results. Please make sure that all background colors are set to transparent. Do not send artwork with backgrounds representing the shirt color! Make sure that any Bitmap Images including cut and paste images have clean edges, otherwise, white halos, shadows or color blemishes (where stray pixels of colors exist) may be printed especially on dark or colored fabrics.

We do not take responsibility for your artwork or color choices, nor do we guarantee that you will receive printed products with anything other than the colors you provide to us. We print files that you send with the color assignments provided. We DO NOT color correct your files.