DTG printing DTG / CMYK / sRGB

Hi Folks,


how you´re preparing your printing files for the Threadless tees?
Interesting for me are just regular and premium tees, let´s say in black, grey and white,
so nothing very specific I guess.


Every portal and print on demand service, Threadless, Merch Amazon, Spreadshirt, Printful etc. etc. have their own fully different specific requirements in regards to the printing files and fully different suggestions for technical workflows. Some require 240ppi. Some embed colors. Some 25% more physical resolution of the printing file for the same product. Some suggest to work with CMYK color palettes in a sRGB working file to match up (xd). Some suggest to work in 600 ppi and convert later down. Some suggest not to upload anything higher than 180 ppi.
And because that´s not enough chaos, most blogging Tee artists seem to have a lot of very subjective points of view in terms of working in CMYK vs. RGB, and all the points below.


However, the more I analyse the matter the dumper I get, right now, dump as a stump.
I´m hoping to get some impressions creating this post... don`t get me wrong, I don´t expect "instructions".. some Light Rays would be just fine:-)


THE QUESTIONS:


Let´s assume you`re creating a T-shirt design just for Threadless (not for Merch Amazon etc.):


PNG Resampling Options:



  • how do you export your PNG´s in terms of Resampling?




Workflow in CMYK vs. (s)RGB:



  • do you create your T-Shirt designs primary in RGB or CMYK?


If CMYK:




  • after you´ve converted your finished artwork to sRGB, do you export
    the sRGB PNG´s with an embed color profile or without?




  • which levels, contrasts, hue & saturation, and another corrections do
    you boost before converting to RGB?




  • which sRGB IEC? there are some different...




If RGB:



  • how do you match CMYK colors in your RGB masterfile? a physical color palette in your hand?..
    or do you place a chart into the... RGB color space.... to match it up "as closest as possible"?




White Underbase:



  • Do you create an own white underbase for black T-shirts each time?

  • which methode / workflow? (there are some different..)

  • do you inform Threadless about this in any way, so that they can put
    their own registration "off" for the underbase?

  • How you´re arranging your files - if the same design is intended for
    white and black T-shirts?
    1 x with underbase for black, and the another 1 for the white tees without?
    (so practically 2 design files for uploading... and unfortunetely 2x products than)

  • What about an underbase for "grey" T-shirts? let´s say RGB 127,127,127 and RGB 128,128,128?




Antialiasing:



  • Do you turn off Antialiasing of your fonts / text contents? (even if you later vectorize them)

  • Do you create your designs just with 300 ppi or do you create them with 480-600 ppi and convert them later down to 300 after your artwork is finished?




Big thanks and Regards

Watch this
agrimony
agrimony profile pic Alumni

i usually have working files in cmyk, and used (s)RGB when exporting

i dont embed color profiles, not sure what the default IEC is, I assume the Adobe profile?

typically I just export to the highest quality PNG I can.

If designing for white vs black, I generally make 2 files. annoying yes but unfortunately no choice right now.. I don't usually custom an underbase unless im working with opacity layers (super annoying)

also i hardly work with fonts so no help for you there. i guess i would just play around with anti aliasing options to see what looks best. IIRC anti aliasing on looks better?

Also I always work in 300 dpi and keep it that way. unless you are blowing it up into a banner or duvet print, you don't lose that much resolution. thankfully most of my designs are vector based so no difference to me.

childlife

Threadless uses RGB and at 300 dpi. If you want more specific answers, try checking out the FAQ section of Threadless. There you will find many articles that can address some of your questions in more depth. That helped start me out, and I am not tech savvy at all. Good luck and hopefully a staff member will comment on any other questions that are not answered in the FAQ section.

Manupix
agrimony said:

i dont embed color profiles, not sure what the default IEC is, I assume the Adobe profile?

@agrimony The only thing I'm near certain of is, ALWAYS embed a profile. If you don't, client/printer's default profile will apply and if different from yours, wide mismatch ensues.

Milder mismatch may still happen when different profiles are used but at least the system on the receiving end knows what it's supposed to do with your files.

agrimony
agrimony profile pic Alumni
Manupix said:
agrimony said:

i dont embed color profiles, not sure what the default IEC is, I assume the Adobe profile?

@agrimony The only thing I'm near certain of is, ALWAYS embed a profile. If you don't, client/printer's default profile will apply and if different from yours, wide mismatch ensues.

Milder mismatch may still happen when different profiles are used but at least the system on the receiving end knows what it's supposed to do with your files.

good point. I'm not sure how to embed color profiles when saving as PNG. Not sure if this is a bug in my old adobe PS CS4. I know by default it uses sRGB IEC61966, but if I save as a PNG it does not seem able to have the embed option checked.

Any idea?

HotDye

Yeah, you´re both right.

I didn´t find any statements in regards to the embed color profile matter on all these Threadless pages. And I know the FAQ section of Threadless like my own pocket in the meanwhile.

Amazon Merch requires embed colors, and I don´t think it´s by accident.

I know it at least from sending Skateboard designs over to a printing service, you´ve always to attach also the CMYK values for each color used in the design. So guessing you´re exporting in RGB, you would need to type the representing CMYK values manually into a CMYK chart of the printing service. That way you can avoid embed colors I guess, but such options aren´t available at Threadless, and also not at Merch or Spreadshirt etc.

Unfortunetely I still work with an old Photoshop and Illu CC 2014, and as Agrimony mentioned, there is no option to save a PNG with 300 ppi and embed colors. The only option to save it with embed colors is the Save For Web or Export, but it reduces the exported PNG by default to 72 ppi, and unfortunetely you can´t override it.

So I guess embed colors is the way if a portal doesn´t care about sending the right CMYK values over, but in order to do so, we need a newer Photoshop version.

@Manupix which CC you´re working with? are you able to save a PNG with 300 ppi and with embed colors from there?

Manupix

I'm stuck with my trusty 2005 CS2. Out-oldtiming you both!

Not sure why you want to embed a color space in each file separartely, for me it's a PS setting once and for all (Edit/Colors or Shft+Ctrl+K), all image files are treated accordingly to the options there.

During my first few months I had it set on 'don't manage color' just because I had no idea what to do, and it wasn't pretty D: so I decided to learn the basics. I understood the general principles but was never sure what to do with unusual cases. Haven't worked pro for years now and I'm not up-to-date, if I ever was.

I don't know why png wouldn't have an embedded profile if PS is set to include them. However png doesn't support CMYK, but it does support RGB profiles. To be fair I mostly use png with indexed-color mode, and I'm not sure if color spaces apply to that mode. Png is also notorious for the way browsers interact with it (not well). It's complicated ;)

For full-color images I mostly use psd, tiff and jpeg.

I never use save for web. In CS2 it results in toggling PS to ImageReady, which I only used for animating pixel-art.

HotDye

it could be probably easier to work in CMYK indeed, knowing the CMYK profile Threadless requires according to their printing service (and if required, even for each garment or garment color a different CMYK profile..) ....and than.. just exporting a CMYK TIFF for Threadless, and not messing around with CMYK-RGB / RGB-CMYK conversions and RGB profiles. But it is how it is. In my eyes it´s madness. sRGB is from the 80´s.. and we still use it. However, did you both ever had the opportunity to take a look at a printed design on garment by Threadless, to check and compare the printed colors? Just curious. Which CMYK profile do you tag Agrimony, FOGRA39 (Iso 12647..)?

agrimony
agrimony profile pic Alumni

my workspace is using the default SWOP V2 profile for cmyk. I believe SWOP is the default for US and FOGRA is mostly for EU based printers.

I'm assuming that threadless printers are US based?

AnimaSomnia

CS5 (I'm currently using) also doesn't allow saving PNG with color profile embedded. I never thought about this issue before. Does Threadless ask for the master PSD / vector file when a design is chosen? So that the designer doesn't have to deal with the color profile issue with the printer? I've only joined a few months ago and haven't gotten any of my designs chosen yet, so I don't know how exactly they work out the printing phase.

Man, I haven't even gotten to resizing my subs for art prints and other items in the artist shop other than the masks, a few cut & sew and shoes.

For those who have ordered from an artist shop and from the threadless market, are the print qualities the same?

HotDye

I guess US based.

AnimaSomnia, I wasn´t printed until now, so I don´t know. But I would tend to doubt .psd because of the big file sizes.

In regards to embed color profiles.. Embing a profile means that you are including that profile in the file when you save it. Just tagging a file with an ICC profile does not automatically mean that your color profile will be saved with the "embed" condition. At least from my understanding.

What I´m concerned about is the fact, that printed garments may not come up even close to the intended colors when color profiling is done wrong. Having some "interpretated" pastel colors by a printer is not so critical as having a scarlet red as main color turned out rusty or hibiscus when printed. Just imagine a coca cola logo on garment printed in raspberry or scarlet red.

From what I know is that i.e. at Merch Amazon the bestsellers on garment are greyscale artworks and blank white texts with a cheap distress layer. It´s because those designs aren´t color critical and don´t have any technical color hickups across the devices, resulting in no or less returns. On another hand, a chilli red artwork of a chilli, saying "I´m a chilli".. printed in burgundy or salmon red is almost always a return. Same as a baby blue sky turned out turquoise. But I`m quite sure, most of these Indies there don´t know how to handle color profiles anyway and that´s why they do their stuff in greyscale instead.

However, I guess most folks that got printed often at Threadless know exactly what they´re doing in terms of color profiles and all the known issues across printing devises.

agrimony
agrimony profile pic Alumni
AnimaSomnia said:

CS5 (I'm currently using) also doesn't allow saving PNG with color profile embedded. I never thought about this issue before. Does Threadless ask for the master PSD / vector file when a design is chosen? So that the designer doesn't have to deal with the color profile issue with the printer? I've only joined a few months ago and haven't gotten any of my designs chosen yet, so I don't know how exactly they work out the printing phase.

Man, I haven't even gotten to resizing my subs for art prints and other items in the artist shop other than the masks, a few cut & sew and shoes.

For those who have ordered from an artist shop and from the threadless market, are the print qualities the same?

In the old days of screen printing I had to give a color separated psd or Ai file. Best if we had it pantone matched otherwise the staff would help to color match it.

These days i usually just submit the same high res png as with the artist shop

HotDye

much harder as to get valuable and exact to the point informations in the FAQ´s or where ever, or even to get printed, is to get a submitted design live and ready for scoring. I´ve submitted some test-patterns in the past weeks without any color profiles, if with any text contents than with the worst resamplings possible, no underbases, wild signal rgb values that never could be printed, not even approximately, chaotic styles, poor alignments... and they (almost) all get live.. and were scored.

Submitting time consuming real artworks on the other hand, partially hardcore time consuming, with smooth line art, smooth vectors, pixel perfect, an essence or statement, hand picked and balanced cmyk values, rgb profile, tested resampling, is resulting in declining by Threadless! in fact for all the submitted designs of that kind. I´m really shocked what´s going up.

Assuming I´m observing all the other designs that get printed, partially with just "3 cheap black and white lines", or unprintable rgb gradients, it´s a no go how Threadless´s taking their liberty of being that bold and rigorous. Their handling with publishers / artists is really questionable. Maybe it´s just pure nepotism.

What´s left is the Artist Shop, but why I should drive tons of valuable traffic from my 1000+ domains to threadless, without at least 1 of my designs live in their shop? Artist shop isn´t the same, something is simply missing.

XD actually entirely uncomprehending, and totally frustrated about threadless. I´m 27 years in the visual arts business, worked for big companies, and I´ve tried to do anyway any additional homework to do everything to their satisfaction, at leat from the technical pov, dropping some talent into my last works, but it ends that I´m feeling like an idiot engaging myself @threadless, really.

Good luck to you all.

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