One of the most important factors in producing great looking digital printing is having good quality artwork for us to initially work from. Clean artwork will save time and money on orders, since extra charges for redrawing it will be reduced or eliminated. Digital artwork is categorized into two kinds; bitmap/pixel and vector based images. If created correctly, both kinds can be easy for us to use, but are unique from each other, with their own positive and negative aspects.
Source File – The original logo artwork file, generally a Vector based image created in Adobe Illustrator (or other Vector based drawing software). Generally has the file extension of .eps or .ai.
EPS File Formats – Encapsulated Postscript (.eps) files are the Vector based source files of ANY logo design or logo repair projects at Mosaic. This is a editable and scalable version of your new logo from which we can create all other formats and image types.
Illustrator or ai File – A vector formated file that is the standard for the industry. An ai file allows for crisp, scalable images. Mosaic prefers these files over any other.
Photoshop or psd files – PSD files are generally a layered file that is proprietary to Adobe PhotoShop. The files created by Photoshop are a raster based file.
Halftones – A series of large and small dots that represent image areas of a continuous tone image. Continuous tone artwork is converted into printable halftone dots and output onto film as a series of dots. Photos in magazines are printed as a series of halftone dots. They are just smaller than we use in garment printing.
Percentage – The amount of coverage in a halftone dot is called Percentage or Tint. A 10% dot is much smaller than an 80% dot. When screen printed, a dot grows in size. This is called dot gain and it can be as much as 30% when printing on an automatic press and 40% when using a manual. For this reason you should try not to apply any tints in designs above 70% (they will just grow and be a solid). It is also important to take into account dot gain when using tints. Always use a smaller tint percentage than you think because in most drawing programs you cannot specify the dot gain (you can in Photoshop!).
Screens – A screen is like a printing plate. One screen is needed for each color to be printed.
Separations – Color separations of the art is needed when making screens for the job. For each printable color – a film or mechanical separation is needed. A simple two-color design requires two separations and may take only a few minutes to create with computer graphics. For a process color job or a multi colored design, a set of separations is done by our professional separator and can take hours. Separations for dark garments can take much longer due to the complexity of printing on dark colors.
Simulated Process (or Fake Process) Color – Real Process Color only works successfully on light shirts. Fake or simulated process color is a photo realistic look on dark garments. They usually are a minimum of six colors and generally eight. Most designs require one or two flash-cures and the artwork is separated specifically for this process since designs separated for light shirts will not work on darks without extensive modification. This process is much more expensive for the art and separations and harder to print correctly.
Special Effects Inks – These are inks that puff, feel like suede, glitter, sparkle, reflective inks and glow(more available on request). They are generally harder to use and cost more money.
Under basing – When printing on medium to dark shirts, the print normally needs a white layer of ink under the colors to allow the colors to be bright on the garment. This layer of ink is called an Under base. Most under bases are white and need to be flash-cured before another color can be printed on top. Some designs have more than one white under base. Bases can come be done with different inks or color for varied affects.
- Regular white base is for bright prints that pop. This base has a thicker feel to the print.
- Thin white base give the colors printed over the top a little more vibrant but not as much as the regular base. Print will not feel quite as thick as the regular base.
- Discharge base is a chemical reaction that destroys the ability of selected dyes to reflect color. It basically kills the dye wherever the ink is printed. Only selected dyes(100%cotton tees) used on natural fibers are dischargeable. Garments should be tested first. The discharge under base will produce a softer feeling print which will not have the rubbery, bullet proof feel associated with a dark garment printed with a regular white plastisol under base.
Water-based ink – Water based inks utilizes either dyes or pigments in a suspension with water as the solvent. The evaporation of the water is necessary to set or cure the ink. Water-based inks are a good choice when a “soft hand” is desirable. A soft hand is the condition where the ink film cannot easily be felt with the hand when passed across the surface of the fabric. Water-based inks work best on lighter garments unless a discharge base is applied on dark garments.
Plastisol Ink – Plastisol is the ink of choice for printing of most finished goods such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, and tote bags. It is the easiest to use, most versatile and has high durability. Plastisol ink creates an ink film that can be felt with the hand. The higher the opacity of the ink, the greater the hand. This heavy hand is considered a disadvantage at the consumer level.
Pantone Matching System (PMS) – The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a universal color matching system that allows designers and printers to match colors accurately regardless of the printing job required. Using this method of color matching allows you to select colors for your overall corporate logo design using a series of pre-mixed ink color swatches (similar to paint chips at the local hardware store). By using PMS colors in a logo, you can be assured that colors are uniform throughout all applications. These colors are referred to as Spot colors and are also an economical way of reproducing business material such as business cards, letterheads and presentation folders. Pantone color swatches are usually available at your local print shop.
Distressed Print – A print that has had a texture or brushes applied to the art to it to make it look old, distressed, antique, or worn out. Textures can come in many different styles and looks. This is not to be confused with thinning inks out, no base/thin base, water based inks, or raising screen meshes to thin out the ink.
Faded/Vintage print – The faded print is when you do not want your design to be bright or have thick hand. This process will normally have a texture applied to the art. There are several ways of getting faded prints with varying results. The most common is the thinning of the inks that are chosen without a base. A thinned base can be used in place of a thick base or no base to get a little more vibrant color out of the inks. Water base printing makes for a thin, soft, faded print, especially on darker colors. Raising screen mesh count on colors can also help produce a thin, faded, softer print. (ie. 150 mesh allows more ink down on the shirt and a 230 mesh will allow less ink down on the shirt.)
Process Color – Commonly used in offset printing, Process Printing uses the four pigment colors of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black – called CMYK. On garments, many “simple” process jobs are actually more than four colors. Designs with lots of specific color matches and heavy text need separate “spot colors.” If the shirt is a light or pastel color, white is also needed. Good process color is much more difficult to do than normal spot colors.
Unlike spot color reproduction, which uses premixed inks, 4 color process printing occurs on the press so color matching can be ‘iffy’.
Outline Fonts or Fonts Converted to Paths – Whenever the artwork files for company logos (ie: .eps files) is opened in a computer graphics program such as Adobe Illustrator, the computer must have access to any fonts contained in the artwork. If the fonts are not available, the results can be unpredictable. In order to avoid this, any fonts that are contained in your logo are converted to vector based shapes. This allows anyone to open the artwork files, whether or not they have the fonts installed, and the logo artwork will remain consistent. Fonts converted to vectors based shapes are referred to as outlined fonts.