Printers Boot Camp

Fresener’s Printers Boot Camp Workshops. New Dates

Scott and Mike Fresener now have a permanent location for their popular hands-on training classes in Bowling Green Kentucky. They have added new classes and are now offering these classes every six weeks.

Their most popular class in a three day workshop on the entire T-Shirt printing process – everything from A – Z. This is a great class for startups and printers who need to learn the right way to print light and dark shirts and use special effects inks.

They have also added a new one day workshop titled Digital Printing – Sublimation and DTG that covers how to print using the sublimation process for mugs, cups, polyester, and other promotional materials, and how to print "direct-to-garment" on light and dark shirts.

Scott has re-worked his Master Color Separation class to now be two days AND this class is now being offered in both Bowling Green, KY and in Scottsdale, AZ!

Check out the Printers Boot Camp website HERE for class dates and details.

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T-Biz Network

Annual Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday Sale!

Another year has passed and we are having our annual Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday Sale. You can now save big time on T-Seps, T-RIP, Upgrades, Product Bundles and more. This sale has been extended through December 2.Order today at our STORE.

  • T-Seps 2.0 Full Version $299 (reg. $495)
  • T-Seps 2.0 Upgrade from FastFilms $99 (reg. $199)
  • T-Seps 2.0 and T-RIP 2.0 DTP Bundle $725 (reg. $894)
  • T-Seps 3.0 or 3.5.5 Full Version $375 (reg. $595)
  • T-Seps 3.0 or 3.5.5 Upgrade from FastFilms $199 (reg. $299)
  • T-Seps 3.0 or 3.5.5 Upgrade from T-Seps 1.0/2.0 $125 (reg. $199)
  • T-Seps 3.0 or 3.5.5 and T-RIP 2.0 DTP Bundle $799 (reg. $994)
  • T-RIP 2.0 DTP Full Version $450 (reg. $495)
  • T-RIP 2.0 DTP Upgrade from FastRIP or T-RIP 1.0/1.2 $250 (reg. $295).
  • Competitive Upgrade to T-Seps 2.0 $175 (reg. $199)
  • Competitive Upgrade to T-Seps 3.0 or 3.5.5 $250 (reg. $299)
  • Halftone Converter for Photoshop Download $19.95 (reg. $49.95)
  • How To Print T-Shirts eBook Download $15.95 (reg. $39.95)
  • Single Color Separations by Scott Fresener $65 (reg. $75)
  • 20-Pack Color Separations by Scott Fresener $700 (reg. $800)
  • 10-Pack Color Separations by Scott Fresener $400 (reg. $500)
  • 5-Pack Color Separations by Scott Fresener $250 (reg. $300)
  • T-Biz Art Download  $39.95 (reg. $149.95)
  • Shop-in-a-Box – Almost everything we sell including T-Seps 2.0 and T-RIP 2.0 full versions! $895 (reg. $1,350) *$100 extra for T-Seps 3.5.5.

Check it all out at the T-Biz STORE HERE!

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Here we go again. Another Photoshop upgrade.

We have been here many times before. We hear rumors of upgrades but because we are a very small developer we can't get specifics or beta releases and we have to simply wait for the software to be released before we can see if our software works with it.

Adobe released Photoshop CC 2017 on November 3 to what seems like little fanfare. They fixed a lot of things, added new features and of course if you are a subscriber to the Creative Cloud – the upgrade was FREE.

T-Seps 3.5.5 is compatible and you can read more at www.T-Seps.com.

There are a lot of websites covering the new features. Simply type in Photoshop CC 2017 as a search and you will get all the fact.

 

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T-Seps and Photoshop

T-Seps 3.5.5 – Compatible with Photoshop CC 2017!

Adobe is on the move again. On November 3 they released Photoshop CC 2017 as a major update. T-Seps 3.5.5 is compatible with the new Photoshop. Adobe keeps adding more and more features and improving the program and fixing some of the minor bugs that have been cropping up.

If you already own T-Seps 3.5 or 3.5.1 the upgrade to 3.5.5 is free and you simply download the free trial from www.T-BizNetwork.com/downloads/. If you have an earlier version of T-Seps then there is a small fee for upgrades and you can order them online at our STORE. Learn more about T-Seps at www.T-Seps.com.


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SGIA Expo Live with Scott Fresener

LIVE from SGIA!

We just got back from the large SGIA Expo in Las Vegas (September 14-16) and it was as great show. Better yet…..we did 14 Facebook LIVE videos from the show floor. They are very informative and a quick watch.

Click HERE to go to our Facebook Page. If you can't see the videos in our Timeline on Facebook click on the Posts or Videos links on the left. Make sure to LIKE them and please Share them!

Here are samples of some of the videos.
 

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Windows10ForcedUpgrade

Microsoft now forcing some users to upgrade to Windows 10.

Last week I had three customers in a row call to ask why their T-RIP didn’t work and all three then told me that they came into work and got a “welcome to Windows 10” greeting when they booted their computer. They all said they never authorized the update and did not click on anything. It just happened. 

This problem has been documented on the internet and it is really a crime that Microsoft is so heavy handed. The real problem is that a lot of software is not Windows 10 compatible. I have a new version of T-RIP called T-RIP 2.0 that is Windows 10 compatible but my older T-RIP 1.0 and 1.2 is not. 

You can prevent this from happening by making sure the “Recommended Update” setting is unchecked on your PC. If you fail to do this and accidentally allow the installation to go ahead (or maybe you tried Windows 10 and didn’t like it), it’s easy to roll things back to your original operating system.

Once the installation has completed you have 30 days to change your mind and go back to Windows 7 or 8.1.

All you need to do is click Start and launch Settings. Go to Update and Security and click Recovery on the left. You’ll see the option to Go back to Windows 7 or Go back to Windows 8.1 (depending on which version of Windows you had before). Click on Get Started and follow the instructions.

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T-Shirt Report

The T-Shirt Report with Scott Fresener & Richard Greaves – Episode 24 ISS Show Review Released

We just released Episode 24 of the T-Shirt Report. The T-Shirt Report is an industry internet vblog that we are doing with our very good friend, Richard Greaves. Each episode brings you Industry News and Comments, Tech Talk, Trade Show News and Reviews, Interesting Reading, focused topic segments, opinions and rants (of course) and much more. Episode 24 has a great review of the ISS Show (Imprinted Sportswear Show) held in Long Beach California in January 2016. Plus there is the usual industry news, rumors and a little tip section on printing nylon jackets.

Don’t miss the LIVE Webcasts with Scott and Richard from the SGIA Expo in Atlanta, November 4-6. View them HERE.

NEW – if you watch these videos at our YouTube channel there are Time Stamps in the comments section and you can simply click on the time stamp and go directly to the sections of interest. This makes it much easier to get to the meat of each video!

Episode 24 – February 21, 2016
This is a long episode but it has a great review of the Long Beach (January) ISS Show along with industry news and some helpful screen printing tips.

Episode 23 – January 5, 2016
We took a little time off over the holidays and finally got caught up with our SGIA Recap video. This 30 minute show covers highlights, rumors, new products, funny stories, Golden Image preview and more.


Episode 22 – October 21, 2015
This Episode has some great information on shop and screen room lighting, event printing and pitfalls, a simple test to see if your screen room is UV light safe, a FREE proof file you can downloads, a FREE Price Matrix that you can download and use to calculate prices, plus an update on the book A History of Screen Printing, and a complete pre-show warmup of the SGIA Show in Atlanta.

Episode 21 – October 6, 2015

This Episode takes you back to memory lane and has a great section on the “famous” Fresener/U.S. Screen Print industry party held at the 2000 SGIA Show in New Orleans. People are still talking about this party. This Episode also has a good section on print/color sequence for garment screen printing.




Episode 20 – September 27, 2015
This Episode has a great review of the Saati Pro Screen Workshop held at Mind’s Eye Graphics along with a review of the M&R EcoRinse screen developing system. There are also good tips on the Epson 1430 printer and a review of the excellent August issue of Impressions Magazine.




Episode 19 – August 31, 2015
This Episode has has good discussions about Windows 10, the Epson F2000 DTG printer maintenance, a quick review of the book The History of Screen Printing, more comments on dehumidifiers, current trade show dates and more.



Episode 18 – July 28, 2015
This Episode has a detailed section on screen room humidity control, plus the latest trade show and seminar information, comments about the latest issue of Printwear Magazine, Windows 10, StahlsTV, the sale of Sawgrass and more industry news and rumors. 

Episode 17 – July 21, 2015
This Episode has a good section on Richard’s visit to Sandlot Sports in Bay City, MI. There is quick industry news, a review of the Wearables Magazine June issue that has four excellent articles, talk about the Pro Screen Workshop by Saati to be held at Mind’s Eye Graphics in Decatur Indiana, Trade show updates and more.

Episode 16 – July 7, 2015
This Episode is devoted to industry news and a catch-up with Scott and Richard on how they have spent the summer. Scott was active in judging the Skills USA National Championship in Louisville, Kentucky and there is a good section here with video of the screen printing portion of that competition. There is also a short rant about Adobe Photoshop’s new CC 2015 and things they broke, plus talk about seminars being held at Mind’s Eye Graphics. There is also the usual quick Industry News and Trade Show update. Richard is doing a panel/seminar at the SGIA Expo in Atlanta on November 5 titled How I Learned to Screen Print featuring Mark Coudray, Rick Roth and others.

Episode 15, June 20, 2015
This Episode is a special edition video interview with Aaron Montgomery from www.CoastalBusiness.com and www.2RegularGuys.com. Aaron is an industry expert and this video was shot live at the NBM/Printwear Show in Indianapolis after his return from the huge FESPA trade show in Cologne Germany www.Fespa.com. This short interview has great industry insights into what’s new – especially in the sublimation and CadCut part of the industry.


Episode 14, May 31, 2015
This Episode is devoted to a very common problem all screen printers have – what to do with waste water, gray water, and how to minimize water use and how to recycle water in the screen making process. This important topic is covered with good technical detail along with great pictures and examples.

Episode 13, May 19, 2015
This Episode is very short and devoted to T-Shirt Industry New Products including the latest trend in semi-automatic screen coating machines from Vastex. www.Vastex.com and Lawson Digital and Screen www.GoLawson.com. These standalone and wall mount machines make screen coating much more reliable and easy. In this episode Scott and Richard also talk about a new automatic screen printing press from a company called Marcodie USA out of Arlington, Texas. wwwMarcodieUSA.com. 



Episode 12 – May 19, 2015
This is one of our new shorter focused shows and it features timely industry news including segments on the new Brown Mfg. Firefly dryer, Kiwo’s new Multi-Tex emulsion, Augusta Sportswear’s line of camo shirts, ISS Show and NBM Show updates, a lengthy discussion about the closing of the famous New Buffalo Shirt Factory (kings of the black shirts), along with a quick Social Media book review, a few opinions and observations…. and more.


Episode 11 – May 5, 2015

This is a special episode with a long discussion of  the Greaves on Garments two-day seminar at Mind’s Eye Graphics



Episode 10 – April 14, 2015
Episode 10 has a great section on sustainability, a good discussion about what “drain safe” means, how to convert files to halftone dots in Photoshop, the latest industry news and more! 




Episode 9 – April 7, 2015




Episode 8 – March 31, 2015



Episode 7 – March 24, 2015



Episode 6 – March 17, 2015   Special Atlantic City ISS Show Report



Episode 5 – March 10, 2015



Episode 4 – March 3, 2015



Episode 3 – February 24, 2015



Episode 2 – February 17, 2015

Episode 1- February 10, 2015

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T-Biz Network Store

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday – SAVE up to 50%!

It’s that time of the year again. We are having our annual Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday gigantic sale on all of our products. Now is your chance to save on T-Seps, T-RIP and more. Here is what you will find at our STORE.

  • T-Seps 2.0 Full Version $299 (reg. $495)
  • T-Seps 2.0 Upgrade from FastFilms $99 (reg. $195)
  • T-Seps 2.0 and T-RIP 2.0 DTP Bundle $750 (reg. $894)
  • T-Seps 3.0 or 3.5.1 Full Version $350 (reg. $595)
  • T-Seps 3.0 or 3.5.1 Upgrade from FastFilms $150 (reg. $299)
  • T-Seps 3.0 or 3.5.1 and T-RIP 2.0 DTP Bundle $850 (reg. $994)
  • T-RIP 2.0 DTP Full Version $425 (reg. $495)
  • T-RIP 2.0 DTP Upgrade from FastRIP or T-RIP 1.0/1.2 $250 (reg. $295).
  • Competitive Upgrade to T-Seps 2.0 $199 (reg. $250)
  • Competitive Upgrade to T-Seps 3.0 or 3.5 $250 (reg. $299)
  • Halftone Converter for Photoshop Download $19.95 (reg. $49.95)
  • How To Print T-Shirts eBook Download $15.95 (reg. $39.95)
  • Single Color Separations by Scott Fresener $65 (reg. $75)
  • 20-Pack Color Separations by Scott Fresener $700 (reg. $800)
  • 10-Pack Color Separations by Scott Fresener $400 (reg. $500)
  • 5-Pack Color Separations by Scott Fresener $250 (reg. $300)
  • T-Biz Art Download  $39.95 (reg. $149.95)
  • Shop-in-a-Box – Almost everything we sell including T-Seps 2.0 and T-RIP 2.0 full versions! $925 (reg. $1,500)
Order HERE at our STORE.
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T-Shirt Report

Fresener & Greaves LIVE from SGIA Atlanta

Scott Fresener and Richard Greaves were webcasting the T-Shirt Report LIVE from the show floor of the huge SGIA Expo in Atlanta, Georgia, November 4-6. They were  in the Garment Zone. They did 15 great interviews with industry movers and shakers. You can watch them below or go to our YouTube Channel and the SGIA 2015 Atlanta playlist.










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SGIA Expo Show Specials

SGIA Show Specials – Save 15% on ALL T-Biz Products!

It is that time of the year again. Fall and back-to-school always signal it is time for the annual SGIA Show and we are offering 15% off ALL T-Biz Products as “Show Specials”! Simply use Coupon Code SGIA2015 when you are ordering at our Store here. Don’t miss out. This sale is only good through November 10. See you at SGIA!
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Computer Graphics Articles

Three new computer graphic articles from Scott Fresener

I just put three new articles on my main Articles page. They are all on computer graphics and they are all topics that I deal with almost daily in doing separations and talking to DTG customers. Enjoy!

Preparing Artwork for DTG Printing

Stop Ruining Great Artwork

Helping Artists Understand File Formats
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Helping Artists Understand File Formats by Scott Fresener

Figure 1

Figure 1

This is a topic dear to my heart. Now that I am doing a lot of high-end color separations every day I have a lot more chances to deal directly with artists. I am simply amazed how little they know about file formats, the color separation process or how to tweak artwork to make it much more color separation friendly. While I have a high respect for all artists and know that they have talent I don’t, this article is designed to help anyone creating images for screen printing (or pretty much any printing process), to be better with less built-in problems.

File Resolutions

Figure 2

Figure 2

I think the reason a lot of artists don’t understand file resolutions is they live in a world of vector images – in Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. I would say that about ½ of the images I get are vector with placed raster graphics. That is where the problem lies – but more on that later.

In a vector program resolution is not an issue. The file will print to any output device at the resolution of the printer. That means basically no jaggies, no rough edges, no “artifacts” or other problems you have with raster/pixel images.

Screen printers like to work at 300 dpi – or higher – at the final print size – prior to doing color separations. If you are a vector artist who is placing a raster image into your vector file – don’t simply download something off of Google Image and place it and sit back and pat yourself on the back for how good it looks. Take time to look at the raster file and see what you can do to make it better. Chances are if it came off the internet it is only 72dpi and very small physically.

Figure 3

Figure 3

Use the Zoom Tool to see what you have

In my workshops and in everyday support help when I get a low resolution file I say over and over and over “use the Zoom tool and zoom in on the artwork.” Artwork always looks great when looking at the full image on the monitor. But, what happens if you zoom in on the low quality JPG file you stuck in the background of your great graphic? You will see that in some cases you can’t even make out what it is. Figure 1.

Rule #1: A raster file that is low resolution and is upsampled to 300dpi will NOT have the detail and edge sharpness of a true 300dpi file.

Figure 4

Figure 4

Let me explain. At least two or three times per week I have to tell a customer “your file is very soft and was at one time low resolution.” The response is always “no, check it out – the file is 300dpi.” My response if YES – True – but it wasn’t always 300dpi.” Someone built this file at a lower resolution and saved it at a default of 72dpi. They then upsampled it to 300dpi because that is what I told them I wanted. Figure 2 shows a closeup of a true 300dpi file that was created at 300dpi. Figure 3 shows the same file saved as 72dpi and then upsampled to 300dpi. What a loss to a great file!

A Word About the JPG Format

Figure 5

Figure 5

To be honest I am still surprised at screeners who say on their website “we won’t use a JPG file.” If I told my customers that – I would lose half of them. JPG stands for Joint Photographic Expert Group and is a file format called Lossy – that loses information when you save the file.

The problem is not so much with the JPG format but with the JPG Quality setting. When you save a file as a JPG you often blow by or use the default quality settings and these can really screw up what was probably a great file. As an aside, if you feel the urge to save a file in a cross platform format then PDF is a MUCH better format to use. If you are going to save a file as a JPG at least make the file the correct physical size and keep the JPG Quality setting high. In today’s age of fast internet and easy to use file transfer programs, the file size is much less critical.

Rule #2: Always try to fix any low quality or low res images you place in a high-end graphic FIRST – before you place them.

Figure 6

Figure 6

Before you place that low quality image inside your high-end graphic take time to fix things and make the image the right physical size and 300dpi. The problem is that a JPEG file can be saved with a quality of 0 to 12.  Zero being – trash!  But hey, it’s makes for a real small file. The lower the quality of a JPEG file the more “artifacts” (lots of noise and confetti around images), and lots of “boxes” where the compression routines tend to average out areas of color.

In Figure 4 the left image shows a closeup of a JPEG file that is a quality of 12. The right image shows the same file saved as a quality of 0. You can see all the artifacts around the edge and the boxes. What a mess.

Figure 7

Figure 7

Here is a quick example. I am not showing the entire image since this is from a job/customer. This customer is doing a lot of shirts for a large and well-known boat manufacturer. You would think that as a huge manufacturer they would have high res images of their boats. Not true! The artist they use does a great job of putting together hot type, logos and text but then he places a crappy JPG image in for the boat. When I ask for a better photo I get the usual “that is all we have – it is 300dpi. I thought that is what you needed.”

Figure 5 shows a cropped view of the image from afar and then a closeup of the small people on the boat. There is no way to easily fix this image. In the case of the seps for this design, I had to go in and airbrush the flesh tones to smooth them out before I did the separations. This image was obviously not 300dpi and or was saved as a very low quality JPG image.

Figure 8

Figure 8

Quick JPEG Fix

There are a lot of JPG Enhancement programs on the market that range from free to hundreds of dollars. Do a web search to find them.

Without these programs there are ways to fix a bad JPG file using Photoshop filters. Here is a routine that I like and have built into my color separation program.

  1. Open the file in Photoshop. Follow the steps prior to upsampling the image.
  2. Go to Filter/Noise/Despeckle. This will soften the image slightly. Figure 6.
  3. Go to Filter/Noise/Reduce Noise. Use the settings in Figure 7. You can play with these. Notice the huge difference in the original and the fixed version. Most of the “boxes” and “artifacts” are gone.

Figure 9

Figure 9

Rule #3 – When opening a vector file in Adobe Photoshop always make sure it is the correct physical size, at least 300 dpi and uncheck Antialiasing. 

This is an area I deal with all the time. Artists will often feel they need to give a screener a Photoshop PSD file even though they built the image in Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw.

When you open an AI, EPS or PDF file in Photoshop that was created as a vector file, Photoshop will bring up a window asking how it should handle the file. The default resolution is 72dpi and Antialiasing is checked. Figure 8.

Antialiasing is Photoshops way of softening jagged edges. That means your great/sharp/clean vector type will now have a soft edge if you leave antialiasing checked. Again, you just messed up a great file. You have put a gray “glow” around your image and this gray is a color that gets separated.

Figure 9 shows a vector file opened in Photoshop with Antialiasing checked and the same image with it unchecked. Notice how sharp the image on the right is. OK, there are small jaggies but we are zoomed in.

The future is here!

I got my first taste of the “future” just today as I am writing this article. I got an image from a new customer that was created in a smart phone app. The artist had no idea how to get the image off of the phone so it was emailed to me from the phone. It obviously came in at 72dpi in my email (embedded) and it was loaded with “boxes” and artifacts from being a very low quality JPG. I will do what I can. I am assuming the artist might be able to select a resolution setting when emailing me so I will have to now include those directions for new customers who want to build images on a phone “Send me a high res version if you are using a smart phone.”

Summary

The key to creating and separating good T-Shirt images is to do the best you can to improve any low quality/low resolution components that you use. It is common to build images in a vector program for quality type and then import or place random other images for backgrounds – or even the main element. You must improve these images first.

If you are building images directly in Photoshop the same rules apply. Work on each component to make sure it is the best you have. Once you merge layers or flatten an image it is hard to fix the parts of the design that are low quality.

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Preparing Artwork for DTG Printing by Scott Fresener

This is a topic that a book could be written about because a lot of things that need to be or could be done to make artwork print better on a DTG printer are the same things you often do to artwork in general – whether you are printing to DTG, sublimation or screen printing. 

The real problem is that you will generally spend a lot more time fixing bad artwork when screen printing 500 shirts than you will or have time for to fix bad artwork for a few shirts with DTG. There are a lot of articles written on this topic and many of them go into painful detail about all the things you should do to make the artwork print read but the reality is you will have to determine how much time you can spend on one shirt vs how much time you can spend on even a few dozen shirts. The tweaks/fixes need to be fast and easy to do.

Figure 1

Figure 1

The Magic is in the RIP

All DTG machines are powered by software called a RIP (raster image processor). There are only a handful of RIP developers who make RIP’s for DTG machines. I was the first to have white ink for DTG with my T-Jet back in 2006 and I am the first to work hand-in-hand with my film output RIP developer to make a RIP for DTG that would adjust for the color deficiencies of inkjet printing on garments and that would make a proper underbase. It is not easy and with the proper RIP – that is where all the magic happens. A good software RIP has color profiling done for the specific machines and inks, and they have ICC Profiles included in the RIP. Figure 1 shows one of the more popular RIPs called Digital Apparel Factory for DTG that is often branded by machine makers. Figure 2 shows the stock Garment Creator RIP that comes with the EPSON F2000 printer.

Figure 2

Figure 2

But, even a great RIP will not help with low quality artwork or artwork designed for a white background that now needs to go on a black shirt.

Learning the Limitations of the Process and the Inks

DTG machines print using the standard printing colors of cyan, magenta, yellow and black. This is commonly called CMYK. The problem starts with digital files which are almost always in what is called RGB mode (red, green, blue). The RGB color space is much larger than CMYK – it has a lot more information. When you convert a file from RGB to CMYK many colors go “out of gamut” meaning they can’t be reproduced exactly using just CMYK. That again is where a RIP comes in. A good RIP will help compensate for out of gamut colors.

Figure 3

Figure 3

That doesn’t help the fact that DTG colors might be duller – especially spot colors – than a typical screen print. If the customer is used to seeing a bright scarlet red screen print on a white shirt and you then do the same job with DTG – the red will be duller and not as vibrant. The DTG print is using Yellow and Magenta to make red. The screen print is using red ink. That is a huge difference. Figure 3.

DTG shines with full color images. It loves pictures and images with a lot of colors and gradations. DTG does not do as well with solid spot colors – especially if you have very critical Pantone color matches. The dullness of the color and the fact that you are using CMYK to make all the colors of rainbow can have its limitations.

How to Improve the Artwork for a Better Print

Figure 4

Figure 4

Even though DTG loves full color prints – if the original image is not sharp, clean, vibrant and well saturated – the print will look dull on a shirt. Here are some ways to improve artwork for DTG printing. The next section will outline things you can do using Adobe Photoshop to improve the image. These same techniques can be applied to Corel Photo Paint and other graphic programs.

Adjust Image Resolution

You will often get low resolution 72dpi images off of web graphics and these are usually small in physical size. The first thing to do is go to Image/Image Size and upsample the image to 200 to 300 dpi and make it the correct physical size. Figure 4.

Figure 5

Figure 5

Improving Low Quality JPG Images

Once the image is the correct size and resolution you need to zoom in on the image and see exactly what is happening up close. If the image was a low quality JPG file then you might see “artifacts” and “blocks”. Unlike screen printing where these imperfections might show up in the final print – these problem areas actually may not show up as badly on a DTG image.

If your file is a low quality JPG image you can use off-the-shelf “JPG Enhancement” programs (very inexpensive) to improve the image and remove the artifacts and square boxes. Simply do a web search of that term. Photoshop also has a Filter called Reduce Noise that works for this. Simply go to Filter/Noise/Reduce Noise. Figure 5.

Figure 6

Figure 6

Improving Color Saturation

The conversion of RGB to CMYK will often reduce the color saturation of an image. And, when bringing images from a vector program like Corel or Adobe Illustrator into Photoshop there can be a color shift and dulling of the colors.

Go to Image/Adjustments/Hue Saturation and move the Saturation slider up about 10 to 20 points. Don’t overdo it. Just get the colors to pop a little. Figure 6.

You can also help an image by using the Tone Curve to improve the overall contrast. I like to use what I call an “S” Curve. It darkens the shadows and lightens the highlights and can make a huge different in a flat image.  Go to Image/Adjustments/Curves. Figure 7.

Figure 7

Figure 7

Fixing Black and White Areas

What appears to be solid black or solid white on the monitor is often not so. Open the Info Panel (Window/Info) and stick it somewhere where you will never close it. I use this panel all the time. It reads levels of density or color. Select the eyedropper tool (this panel works with most tools) and place the tool over areas that you think are dead black. Dead black is 0 levels of RGB. Any reading other than 0 means you won’t have dead black in that area. You will end up with a dark gray. Figure 8.

Do the same for the white areas of the image. Dead white is 255 levels of RGB. Any other reading means your RIP will try to put a small amount of color there. Figure 9.

Figure 8

Figure 8

You can adjust these areas using either Levels or Tone Curve. I happen to like using the Tone Curve. If you move the upper right of the curve in just a little to the left – that will lighten the dead white areas and you can read the change in the Info Panel because it is still active even when the Curve is open. It now reads “before and after” so you can see the changes. Figure 10.

Do the same for the dead black areas. Move the Curve in the lower left to the right just a little and then read the before and after.  Figure 11.

Sharpening the Image

Figure 9

Figure 9

Photoshop has a great Sharpening filter that when used correctly can enhance/improve the edges of the image. Go to Filter/Sharpen/Unsharp Mask (don’t let the name fool you) and start off with a setting of Radius 1.0, Threshold 6.0 and Amount 250. It is the Amount slider to move up or down. Make sure Preview is checked to see the effect but always go back and forth between Preview being checked so you can see the change to the image. You will see a huge improvement to the edges. Figure 12.

Creating Artwork that needs an Underbase

Creating an underbase seems very simply. To a novice it seems you just need to print white under all the colors.

Figure 10

Figure 10

That sounds great but in T-Shirt printing the ideal underbase only puts white under non-black colors and on a black shirt lets the shirt be the black in the image. This makes for more of a softer image. I would like to say I am the “creator” of underbases for DTG since I was the first to develop a RIP for white ink and the first to use my screen print color separation knowledge for DTG.

The creation of the underbase is not the topic here. The creation of artwork that can be used to make the underbase is. For a DTG RIP to create an underbase it normally needs an artwork file that has a transparent background. That means there is no color (not even white) around the image. If there is white around an image that is going on black shirts (this is called the “canvas” area), then the RIP is not smart enough to know that this white should not print.

Figure 11

Figure 11

Typically you receive the artwork as a JPG image and often there is white in the canvas area. Your job is to remove or “knockout” this white area.  There are a LOT of articles and YouTube videos about how to remove or knockout backgrounds and some of the popular RIP software has knockout programs built in.  There are also third-party programs and plug-ins that will do knockouts of backgrounds. Figure 13.

Photoshop has a variety of tools you can use to remove backgrounds including using the Magic Wand to simple select around the image, using Quick Mask to “mask” around the image, using a Layer Mask, using the Quick Selection tool to simply using the Pen tool to draw around the image. These are all topics that can be an entire article and if you do a web search of Removing Background in Photoshop you will find a lot of tutorials.

If your file was built in a vector program like Corel or Illustrator then there is no background or canvas. You can simply Export or Save the file as a PNG format and the file will have a transparent background. Easy.

Figure 12

Figure 12

The harder part is removing the background of a file that has a soft edge. If the file vignettes from the image out to white then somehow you need to remove the background and still keep the edge soft.

One way or another – if you open a file in Photoshop it will have checks around the image if it has a transparent background. Look at the file in the Layers panel. In fact, you can view how the file will look on different shirt colors by making a new layer and filling it with the shirt color and placing it below the main graphic. Figure 14.

Artwork Specifically for Black Shirts

When printing with DTG on black shirts, you really don’t need to print black ink – in most cases. If there is a lot of detail you might want to print black but generally you let the shirt be the black in the image. Most RIPs allow for this and have check boxes as to whether to print black ink on a black shirt or they have options to remove certain colors from the image.

Figure 13

Figure 13

If your RIP wants to print black ink even on a black shirt you could use the Color Range option in Photoshop (Select/Color Range) and select all the black from your image using the Fuzziness slider to determine how much you want. When you save this window you will have the typical Photoshop “marching ants” selection on just the black areas. If you delete these areas and fill them with white you should now have an image that has very little black (there could be some left in the gray areas but that is no big deal) and it is ready to print on a black shirt.

Make the Print Better at the Machine

No matter what the manufacturer of your DTG machine says about print speeds or ink usage – you can pretty much count on the fact that they are talking one pass on the underbase and one pass on the colors. Yes, this will work but the ink deposit is normally a little weak. In all RIPs you can tell the machine to print the underbase twice (print – rewind – print again) or print heavier and you can do the same for the CMYK colors. Some RIPS have simple sliders for this. Figure 15. To get a print to be bright on light or dark shirts you almost always have to print the underbase heavy and print the colors either twice or with and increased deposit of it. That will make a HUGE difference in print quality.

Figure 14

Figure 14

Article Summary

Here are the highlights of this article:

  1. Make sure the image is the correct physical size and 200 to 300 dpi.
  2. Use JPG enhancement programs or filters in Photoshop to improve low quality JPG files.
  3. Improve the image contrast and/or saturation (or both) to bet the image to pop more to offset for the loss of brightness in DTG.
  4. Make sure areas that should be dead white and dead black are really that.
    Figure 15

    Figure 15

  5. Use Unsharp Masking to improve the image.
  6. If the image does not have a transparent background remove the “canvas” around the image so there is not background.
  7. If necessary – remove the black from the image for black shirts.
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