Artwork Setup For T-Shirt Printing


In this blog, we will go over a few important steps in creating high resolution artwork for your t-shirts. We will be talking about  Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for this tutorial but you can utilize any professional image editing platforms out there.So why is high resolution artwork so important and why do I need it?

This is a very good question and one we get often. In order to produce vibrant colors and nice quality prints, it all begins with your artwork. This is the foundation which will determine how well the finished prints will  look. As a rule of thumb, good quality artwork yields good prints – and vise versa. Images taken from the internet or from a cell phone are low resolution and produce a very poor print quality. For print, your artwork must be created in high resolution in order to meet the requirements needed to produce quality prints. Below we will go over the process of creating your artwork.


This is a very important first step. Some design and color choices you make may end up not working well with the shirt color you choose. For example, if you create a logo using dark colors and later pick out a dark color shirt, your design will not be very visible. Know what color shirt you are going to go with first will help you pick the best print colors.


Whenever possible, you should create your designs in a vector based program such as Adobe Illustrator. Vector based artwork can be resized and is automatically created at high resolution. Illustrator requires some experience using this type of software and is somewhat beyond the novice skill level. Click on the section below to view the page setup for either Illustrator or Photoshop.

Page Setup For Adobe Applications

Set your page dimensions to your desired print size (size the artwork will be printed on your t-shirt).

If you are familiar with Adobe Illustrator, then you already know the proper way to setup your page since using a vector based software is an intermediate skill level.

Whenever possible, you should create your designs in a vector based program such as Adobe Illustrator. If you do not have access to a vector based program, here are the instructions for Adobe Photoshop (a raster based software).

Open Photoshop and select “FILE” and “NEW”. This will open a new project window.

Page size: Your page size should be the size of your print – meaning, the size you want the image to be printed on your shirt. Generally, the maximum print size we print is 14″ x 16″.

Resolution: The resolution should be set to 300. Anything lower than this could result in poor image print quality. For DTG (Direct to Garment) prints, the resolution should be anywhere from 200-300.

Color Mode: The color mode should be CYMK. (DTG – direct to garment prints should be RGB mode).

Select OK and your page is now setup for high-resolution.


Utilizing our ink color chart, select the print colors you would like us to use. CLICK HERE to visit the screen printing section of our website. This will give you the working colors you need to create your artwork.


Now that we have our page settings entered correctly, you are now ready to begin creating your design. If you use clipart images or stock images purchased/downloaded from the internet, make sure they are of high quality. Just because the image looks good on your mobile device or when you copy/paste in into your newly created page doesn’t mean it is of high quality. The example below shows an image we’ve taken from the internet and copy/pasted it onto our Photoshop page.

Notice the image on the left looks great – when we view it at the 25% zoom level (noted on the bottom left of your Photoshop screen). When we zoom at 100%, which is “normal” viewing, notice how pixilated/blurry the image actually is. If sent to print, this is how your logo/image would be printed. It would look blurry and absolutely horrible on your shirt.

So how do you avoid this from happening? As your are creating your logo/artwork, you may have to scale down the zoom level to 25% (or so) in order to see the entire page on your screen while you are creating your design. After you are done your masterpiece, be sure to zoom back to 100% and ensure everything looks crisp and the way you want it to print. Remember, if your design doesn’t look good at this stage of the process, it isn’t going to look good printed, so be sure to invest the time in your artwork.


Now your design is complete, don’t forget the following:

Save Your Artwork

Adobe Photoshop (Raster Images)

  • Be sure to convert all fonts to shapes or curves
  • Merge like colors and Include your print colors in the layers panel
  • Make sure to have a transparent background
  • Save your artwork in .psd format

Adobe Illustrator (Vector Images)

  • Convert text to outlines or curves
  • Convert all colors to spot colors using our color chart
  • Keep stroke paths to a minimum of 4 points
  • Save your artwork in Illustrator, vector EPS or vector PDF


If you created your artwork in a vector based software such as Illustrator, your logo is most likely vectored. If you created your artwork in a raster based program, such as Adobe Photoshop, your artwork will need to be vectored. We won’t cover Illustrator techniques here as this is a bit beyond the novice skill level.

At UrbanFly Apparel, we will convert your high resolution artwork (created in Photoshop or other professional image editing software) into vector format for a small charge. This is a labor intensive process which is why we charge for this service.  Ideally, if your skill level allows, you should always create your artwork in vector format – which ensures your artwork is of good quality and production ready.

For DTG (direct to garment) prints, you don’t need to have vectored artwork.


Raster vs Vector format – what is the difference?

There are many differences between the two and this tutorial isn’t designed to teach you how to use them but simply guide you through the artwork creation process. In general, raster based artwork is limited to the size it was created and can not be up-sized. Example: If you create a 3″ x 5″ logo, it can’t be resized and printed at 10″ x 10″.

In contrast, your logo created in vector format can be resized to any dimension you like. Raster based logos converted to vector format not only gives a better print quality but it can be resized/adjusted for optimum print results.

CLICK HERE to watch a video on this topic.


So, why do I have to go through these steps for my artwork when I had shirts made before on another website where I just uploaded images from the internet?  This is another good question which we get a lot. Most of those websites which have those cheesy online design tools use automated raster to vector conversion software which will convert your artwork for you. The problem is, this is done automatically and the print results are unpredictable and many people are unhappy with the print quality they end up receiving. At UrbanFly Apparel, we don’t take that chance. We have several quality checkpoints in place throughout the ordering process – which are handled by a real person to ensure you are getting great looking prints on quality apparel.

If you don’t have the skill level to create your artwork or don’t have the time, our designers are happy to work with  you in creating an amazing logo and bring your creative ideas to life.