please explain, about layers and printing

On the 'So, you want to submit a design? from the Threadless PDF, theres a paragraph which reads:

" Make sure you keep your original, high-resolution image
in case it’s chosen to be printed! We’d also prefer for your hi-res artwork to have
layers separated by colors so that it’s ready for printing even if you’d like your
design to be printed by sim process (see specialty printing)."

I don't understand what this means. When I work with layers and I'm finished, I merge the layers down before saving.

Does threadless want a separate layer for each color? and for the image to be saved and uploaded without merging ?(I didn't even know this was possible).

I bet this is a dumb question, but please, someone explain this to me!

Watch this

Yes. You can (should) (must) save your layered work file in a layer-supporting format such as psd or tiff. So you can edit it at any time! Saving intermediate merged states is fine for easy reference as layered files tend to be HEAVY. TL prefers a separate layer for each color if your design is solid colors. No point if it's all continuous tones. They can also do the job themselves if you're not sure, but in any case keeping the final layered file is safe practice.


Thank you for replying, Manupix!

So when they say to save the image in png, gif or jpg, is that just for the templates and thumbnails, but the actual high-res files should be psd or tiff?

And if I understand you correctly, if the image consists of continuos tones is ok to merge and safe in png jpg of gif?

Thomas Orrow
Thomas Orrow profile pic Alumni


Save as a hi-res PSD for your original file and save as a JPEG for your presentation!

Even if the artwork file is only one colour, you can still save it as a PSD to separate the artwork from the background. It also helps if you want to quickly change the background colour.


What Tom says. Layers have many uses, not only for separating colors.

ok to merge and safe in png jpg of gif

As long as you know what you do! These formats have different uses and risks. Look them up on wikipedia if you're not familiar, you could very much loose hours of work if you're not careful! Jpeg uses lossy compression, you can choose the amount of quality vs compression but even at the highest quality there is loss of information. Always keep a final version in a non-compressed format! (this is a different notion than layered/merged, ok?) Generally jpeg is used for photographs or trad scanned art, gif for graphic designs with no more than 256 colors, png for anything incorporating even a small amount of solid colors or type (which jpeg would mess with).


Got it, thomas, thank you very much!


I still have so much to learn, but this has been a great lesson. Again, thank you Manupix!

celandinestern profile pic Alumni

Also make sure your original file is huge (well, huge by computer standards - it should be the actual size you want it to be on the tee, in inches, times 300 dpi. For comparison, your presentation file will only be 72 dpi, because that's fine for the computer, but if you tried to print at 72 dpi (that's dots per inch, by the way, it marks how 'dense' the quality of the file is) you'd get exceptionally poor quality.


I'll keep that in mind, Thanks, Celandinetstain :)


So my question is, if I have a photo manipulation that I've created in photoshop--so it is a picture, not just a couple colors--do I have to separate the image into layers for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black halftones in order for it to be printed, should my submission be chosen? I'm completely lost on how that process is done. I know that is what you have to do if you're screen printing on your own, but I don't know how threadless does it. I'm really frustrated how I can't seem to find this answer anywhere on the internet :(. Please help!


^ NO, definitely. That's a pro job that only the printer can do.


Thank you very much! I had a feeling I didn't have to do that, I was just frustrated that Threadless didn't make that very clear at all, since the submission guides always talk about "separate layers based on colors!" yet offer nothing about what to do for a simulated process, as it is called.

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