Designing for screen printing is totally different than designing for regular print. If you were to send your high-resolution PDF to a screen printer without the proper setup, they would be unable to print it.
Most of the problems come down to the way screen printers print color and images that are included in your design. In this tutorial, you will learn how to prepare your T-shirt for print. I used Adobe Photoshop CS5.
Step 1. Select the size.
It’s important to create your design in the exact size you want it printed on the shirt. If you are not sure about the size, take the plain T-shirt and measure it with a ruler.
TIP: If you are going to print various T-shirt sizes, measure the smallest shirt to know your maximum size allowance. You can also create different designs for the various shirt sizes.
Step 2. Image selection
It’s crucial that your images are either high resolution (at least 300 DPI) or are vector images.
If you are unsure whether your image is high resolution, right click on the file and select Properties. You can then select the Details tab and look for the resolution value.
TIP: You can convert regular images into vector images using the Live Trace tool in Adobe Illustrator.
Step 3. Use PMS Colors
This part is very important because you want the colors to print accurately. PMS means “Pantone Matching System” and is a standardization of printed colors.
Step 4. Create outlines on text.
To make sure the font you used in your design will be the font that ends up on your T-shirt, you will need to create outlines.
Do this by selecting the text layer in the Layers palette. Select the Layer menu at the top of the screen and then select Type and Convert to Shape. This will convert your text to an image so it can’t be substituted with another font.
Step 5. Lock the layers.
To keep everything in place, lock all of your layers by selecting the layer and clicking on the lock icon in the Layers menu.
6. Export the file.
Ask your printer which file type they prefer and if they have any specific requests before you export the file.
As you can see, it's a breeze.
The most complicated part of the whole process is the PMS color matching. Discuss this with your printing service before you get started. It may be easier for the printer to do the matching for you, especially if there aren’t too many complicated colors and they don’t charge an additional fee.
Ask if the printer is willing to print a small trial run before you do any large quantity printing to make sure the T-shirt turns out exactly as you planned.