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Artwork FAQ

Frequently asked questions about artwork

What kinds of artwork can be used for screenprinting?
How do you design a custom piece of artwork?
How long does it take to design custom artwork?
What do you charge for a custom logo?
How should I send you artwork or logos?
What file types can I send you?
What's the difference between vector and bitmap files?
Do you use Mac or Windows computers?
Can you match an exact PMS color?

Q: What kinds of artwork can be used for screenprinting?

Almost any type of flat artwork "can" be used to create a screen printing design. Some good examples are: drawings, sketches, paintings, photos, digital files, logo slicks, even other t-shirts. Generally, if you can scan the image into the computer or redraw it by hand, we can use it.

Having said that, it is very important that you start with a good size and clear piece. For instance, it is impossible to create a 13" wide design directly from a logo on a business card. The small size does not provide enough information for the computer ( or human artist ) to enlarge the logo to the proper size and still look crisp and clear. Therefore, we would suggest the following guidelines:

  • Black & white with no shading
  • Same size or larger than final printed size
  • Large "Slicks" are good
  • Vector digital files preferred
Sketches &
  • Same size or larger than final printed size
  • Most will have to be redrawn unless they are black & white


  • Larger photos are better
  • Real photos are much better than printed photos
  • Only applicable to 4-color or grayscale designs
  • Digital photos need to be high resolution or "best" quality
Digital Files
  • Vector images are best for spot color designs
  • Most bitmaps cannot be used for spot color
  • 200 dpi minimum at full print size for bitmaps

And some pieces that shouldn't be considered usable:

  • Business card size logos
  • Letterhead
  • Photocopies
  • Anything from a newspaper or other poorly printed source
  • Graphics from web sites
Q: How do you design a custom piece of artwork?

Generally, the creation of custom designs follow one of two paths depending on whether we are working with spot-color or some form of "process" design.

For spot-color :

  1. We start with criteria and suggestions from the customer
  2. The artist sketches the design and then inks it ( much like a comic book )
  3. It is then scanned into the computer and transformed into a vector image
  4. The artist then colors the design and adds text and special effects
  5. We then produce a proof for customer approval
  6. If needed, we make corrections or enhancements and proof again
  7. Once finalized, the design is separated for printing

For 4-color process or simulated process:

  1. Again, we start with criteria and suggestions from the customer
  2. The artist may then scan photos or other art into the computer
    or the design may be created entirely digitally
  3. Any text or effects are added
  4. We then produce a proof for the customer
  5. If needed, we make adjustments or corrections and proof again
  6. Once finalized, the image is processed by special software
  7. The design is checked and then separated for printing
Q: How long does it take to design custom artwork?
A: Our artists are very skilled and can produce a custom design relatively quickly. A simple spot-color design can be complete within a few days. It really depends on how many we have to do and how complicated they are.
Q: What do you charge for a custom logo?

We do not charge for custom artwork that we are going to print on t-shirts or other garments. However, per our polices, we retain all rights to the artwork we produce. If you would like limited reproduction rights ( e.g. for fliers, a web site, entry forms, etc. ) we grant that for free.

If you need a custom logo for your business or organization to use with full rights we charge $25-$75 per hour with a minimum of $300.

Q: How should I send you artwork or logos?

You can send us artwork via:

  • Postal Mail
  • UPS / Fed Ex
  • Email
  • FTP to our web server

For Digital Files we can accept Mac or PC format:

  • Email attachments up to 10MB
  • CD-R / CD-RW disks
  • SD cards / Memory stick / most other porable memory cards
  • Jump drive or other USB storage device
  • Floppy Disk - If you have ever seen one ;)
Q: What file types can I send you?

We have the following software and can accept any format that can be opened or imported by these programs:

  • Adobe Illustrator CS2
  • Adobe Photoshop CS2
  • CorelDraw X3
  • CorelPhotoPaint X3
  • Macromedia Freehand 10

We would prefer Corel .cdr or Illustrator .eps formats for vector files and .psd or .tiff for bitmaps.

Tips for vector files:

  • VERY IMPORTANT: Convert all fonts in your design to curves or outlines
  • Bitmaps embedded in a vector file are still bitmaps and are hard to use for spot-color

Tips for bitmaps:

  • Resolution must be at least 200 dpi at the final printing size
  • Do not flatten images in case we need to edit the file
  • Bitmaps are best for designs printed in 4-color or simulated process

If you are not using one of the titles above, many other packages can save or export to the encapsulated postscript format (.eps). If your software can only save in a proprietary format we will not be able to open your file.

Q: What's the difference between vector and bitmap files?

Vector graphics are made up of many individual objects. These objects are defined mathematically as a series of control points joined by lines or curves. Each object is self-contained, with properties such as color, shape, outline, size, and position on the screen. As an example, to draw a red square with a black outline, the software only has to know the position of the 4 corner control points, draw black lines between them, then fill the enclosed space with red. Since each object is self-contained, you can move and change its properties over and over again while maintaining its original clarity and crispness. Vector-based drawings are also resolution independent. This means that they appear at the maximum resolution of the output device, such as your printer or monitor. The image will not loose its proportion or definition when it is scaled up or down.

Bitmap, or raster, graphics are actually a "pixel map" that describes how to display an image pixel by pixel on the screen. Bitmaps are very resolution dependent, meaning that if the image is stored at 300 dots per inch (dpi) then every square inch of the picture will have 300 dots or pixels. Each pixel needs color and shading information stored for it. This makes for very large files at high resolutions. Bitmaps also do not scale up very well. If the image starts out being 1"x1" and 72 dpi (common dpi for web graphics) and you need to enlarge it to 10"x10" it still only has 72 dots. Now you can see the individual pixels quite clearly and the image looks very jagged. The computer can compensate for this and guess where more dots are needed but the image will be blurry because the "guess" is not perfect.
Comparing a vector-based image with a bitmap image.

  Original 2 x Zoom 4 x Zoom

Remember  that vector graphics are created as collections of objects and bitmap images are made of individual pixels arranged in patterns. Of the two formats, bitmap images are better for photographs because they tend to offer greater subtleties for shading and texture but require more memory and take longer to print. Vector images are best for drawings that need sharper lines, more detail, and easy modification. Vector images require far less memory and computing resources.

Q: Do you use Mac or Windows computers?
A: We use both. We have computers that are running Windows XP, and OSX (and Ubuntu too!)
Q: Can you match an exact PMS color?
A: We do not offer exact matches of PMS colors. However, we can get very close and never have had a complaint when a match was attempted.