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DTF & UV DTF Transfers: Artwork Requirements

Guide to Ordering DTF and UV DTF Transfers: Artwork Requirements, Production, Policies, and Artwork Expectations.

Receiving your order and finding the transfers don't meet your expectations can be frustrating. Our aim is to guide you in preparing your DTF and UV DTF artwork to ensure satisfactory printed results.

If files aren't prepared correctly, it can lead to frustration when you receive your prints or delays in production. Please take a moment to review the artwork guidelines provided below.

DTF Transfer Artwork Files Will Be Printed Exactly As They're Submitted

Your artwork will be printed as submitted. We cannot be held responsible for any issues related to the appearance of transfers if the submitted artwork doesn't meet the requirements mentioned in this blog post.

If you need help, you may want to choose the Help From Designer option in the Add-On Services section of our website.

Utilize Appropriate Software for Artwork Creation and Gang Sheet Building

Using professional graphics software is the most straightforward method to ensure that your artwork and gang sheets meet all the necessary requirements for a successful print.

We advise against using Silhouette software or Canva for designing purposes:

  • Silhouette software was designed for cutting, not designing.

  • While Canva is user-friendly for creating designs, issues may arise when saving or downloading your designs and gang sheets.

In both cases, even high-quality designs may be compressed and lose quality during the saving or downloading process.

Create Artwork at High Quality

Low-resolution artwork, which can cause a design to appear foggy, pixelated, or with jagged edges, is one of the most common issues in DTF printing. To avoid frustration when your transfers look less than desirable or to prevent delays caused by artwork quality, you have these options:

  1. Vectorize Your Design: Using vector software, such as Adobe Illustrator, eliminates concerns about resolution. Creating artwork from scratch in this program ensures your designs print crisply.

  2. Set Resolution to 300 dpi or higher: Photoshop and other raster-based programs use pixels to create an image. To maintain crispness along the edges of artwork, it's best to have as many pixels as possible. We recommend using a resolution of 300 dpi or higher.

  3. Outsource Design Work: Our Designers can redraw most artwork at a higher quality, whether vector or high-resolution raster. You can order "Fix My Image" option on the Add-On Services page, and our designers will take care of your artwork.

Artwork Should Have Sharp Edges

Sharp, defined edges in your artwork will yield the best result. Neon glow, drop shadows, transparent areas, soft/fading or pixelated edges may not print well due to the white underbase and will not look good when transferred onto dark-colored garments. Please remove all neon glow, transparencies, and soft/fading edges before submitting your artwork.

Backgrounds In Artwork Will Be Printed

Any backgrounds in the artwork file will be printed. If you prefer no solid background, save your file with a transparent background in PDF or PNG format.

Note that JPG/JPEG files have solid backgrounds, so use professional design software to remove them. However, it may be complicated to properly remove the background and still retain all the colors within the design.

Convert Fonts to Curves/Outlines

Convert all fonts to curves/outlines in vector file types like PDF or EPS.

In Adobe Illustrator:

Illustrator allows you to convert your fonts to outlines. To convert text to outlines, do the following:

  • Select the type object you are trying to convert.

  • Click Type > Create Outlines.

In Adobe Photoshop:

In Photoshop, you must rasterize the font layer. Before you rasterize a vector layer, always duplicate it by choosing:

  • Layer > Duplicate.

  • Then, to rasterize the copy, choose Type > Rasterize Type Layer.

In Corel Draw:

In Corel, you must first convert your text to a curve object.

  • Using the Pick Tool, select the text.

  • Go to Arrange > Convert to Curves.

Alternatively, right click on the text when it's selected and choose Convert to Curves.

Minimum Line Thickness is 0.02 in. (or 0.5 mm, or 1.44 pt)

Delicate details in your artwork might not print correctly if they're too thin. Similarly, very narrow gaps between elements of your design could close up during production. Ensuring these small details and gaps are sufficiently thick is crucial, as their loss could impact the legibility of your design.

The minimum thickness required for DTF artwork should be 0.02 inches or thicker. Any part of the artwork thinner than this may result in the following issues:

  • The artwork may NOT print at all.

  • Lines that are too thin may fall off the film before you have a chance to press the transfer.

  • Lines that are too thin may not transfer to the garment, as they will be too thin to pick up any adhesive powder.

  • Lines that are too thin may break apart when you peel off your film.

You can check the size of your artwork by creating a small circle with a diameter of 0.02 inches and moving it around your design. Place it over the thinnest part of the design. If the circle is larger than the width of the thin elements of your design, then they are too thin for proper printing and transfer.

To better understand WHY the thin lines do not print right, please refer to the "About DTF Choke" paragraph at the end of this blog post.

Maximum Artwork/Gang Sheet Width is 22 in.

The widest DTF prints we can produce is 22 inches, with no length limit. However, if you're using Affinity Designer to create your gang sheets, please ensure your gang sheets are under 96 inches long.

For optimal results and longer gang sheets, utilize our Gang Gang Sheet Builder.

Make Your Artboard / Design the Same Size As Your Design

The Width & Height you select in our Gang Sheet Builder only determine the size of the whole file. Please note that any extra space between your design and the edge of the file, known as negative space, will be included in the sizing, resulting in the design being printed smaller than intended. The dimensions you choose should match your design's desired Height & Width. Ensure your design has no negative space.

Do Not Mirror Your Design

You don't need to mirror your design unless you want it to appear mirrored when pressed onto the garment. Our software automatically mirrors all designs and gang sheets before printing.

Artwork Expectations

Printed Colors May Not Match Your Screen

The colors on your screen (computer, tablet, or phone) are not an accurate representation of how your artwork will print. DTF Transfers are printed in CMYK, but your screen displays in RGB. Some colors might print how they look on screen, but we cannot guarantee the colors will match.

We Do Not Color Match or Target Colors

We do not color match or target colors for DTF and UV DTF printing, including spot colors, Pantones, or colors matching other products we offer. If you have concerns about specific coloring, we recommend a sample run.

Using our DTF color chart, you can get a better idea of which colors to use for a more predictable result. However, please note that these values may vary very slightly depending on the ink or film batch, so color matching cannot be guaranteed.

Please be aware that we operate two different printers: a DTF printer for garment transfers and a UV DTF printer for hard surface transfers. Although both printers produce transfers on carrier sheets for home application, they are distinct. We cannot guarantee that the same image will print with precisely the same colors on both DTF and UV DTF printers. These printers use different inks (DTF vs. UV DTF), and the images are prepared for printing using two separate software programs. If you're looking to create a matching set, such as a garment and a mug, we suggest ordering a sample run.

Pantone Color Values Should Not Be Used In Designs

Please refrain from designing your files with Pantone color values, as our software will convert them to CMYK before printing. This conversion frequently leads to color inaccuracies.

Transfers Will Come On A Roll

You have the option to order single images or gang sheets with multiple images. In most cases, your transfers will be shipped to you on a roll, rather than cut apart. If time is of the essence, you can also opt for our Cut Transfers Apart Services.

Help Is Available From Our Designers

Please refrain from including notes such as "check my artwork/gang sheet before printing." Instead, we recommend reviewing guidelines in this blog post thoroughly. Then, zoom in on your artwork or gang sheet and ensure the resolution is adequate, there are no overlapping images, the artwork has no negative space, and so on.

However, if you're unsure and need help reviewing your artwork or gang sheet before printing, our team of designers is ready to assist. Simply select the "Check my Artwork" or "Check my Gang Sheet" option on the Add-On Services page. A fee of $15.00 per design/gang sheet will be applied for our team to review your gang sheet and suggest adjustments. For more extensive changes or multiple proofs, there will be an additional fee of $15.00 for each 30 minutes of our work.

Acceptable File Types & Formats

We accept various file types, but we have preferences for certain formats over others. We prefer file types capable of containing vector artwork for best printing results, such as SVG, EPS, AI, or PDF files. Additionally, PSD and PNG files can be used, but please ensure they are high resolution and have transparent backgrounds - this will assist us in fulfilling your order without any delays.

About DTF and UV DTF Choke

& About UV DTF Bleed

In DTF and UV DTF printing, applying the white underbase layer beneath the color is a crucial technique for enhancing the vibrancy and visibility of colors in the final print. This white underbase is printed using high-opacity ink, ensuring solid coverage.

Without this white underbase, the color ink alone lacks sufficient opacity to stand out effectively, especially on darker or colored surfaces. In UV DTF printing, color inks without the white underbase may appear translucent when applied to glass, or completely invisible when transferred to dark surfaces (they may still work on white!) Therefore, by incorporating the white underbase, we ensure that the colors appear vivid and true to the original design.

Additionally, in DTF printing, the transfer won't last for more than a few washes if white ink isn't applied. Therefore, white ink has to be used even for white garments.

In our printing workflow, when your design is prepared using our RIP software, the white layer is intentionally made slightly smaller than the design itself. The difference between the size of the white layer and the design is called CHOKE. This careful adjustment prevents the white layer from extending beyond the edges of the color layer. If the white layer were to protrude, it could create an undesirable visual effect - a white outline around your entire design.

Due to the use of the choke, there is a minimum limit on how small or thin your design should be. This ensures that there is still a sufficient amount of the white underbase printed beneath the color, preserving the integrity of the final print while maximizing color vibrancy.

For more information on the artwork size and line thickness, please refer to the "Minimum line thickness" paragraph above.

As you apply a UV DTF transfer, you'll notice the presence of a clear layer printed slightly larger than your artwork. This clear layer is the UV DTF varnish, giving the transfer a glossy appearance and sealing the edges. Unlike the white underbase, the varnish layer is made slightly larger than the design (BLEED vs. choke) to securely seal the edges and prolong the life of your transfer.

We hope you find this information helpful. However, feel free to contact us if you have any further questions!

Danny & Elena @ PNW Print Co.

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