Commonly Used Artwork Files for Screen Printing

One part of a successful print job, is getting the print to reflect the intentions of the artwork. Artwork preparation is an early step in the screen printing process and is important because the resolution and size of the artwork file will determine the quality of the final print. One question we get asked frequently is, “I have a JPEG, can it be screen printed?” Before I answer that question lets explore some different image formats. A JPEG is considered a raster image, a grid of pixels, or points of color, viewable via a monitor, paper, or other display. A vector file consists of points, lines, curves, and shapes, which can be manipulated, to represent images. The main difference between the two is that raster images are size dependent, expanding the size of a raster image can result in pixelated and blurry images making pixelated screen prints. Even though vector files are the preferred artwork file at Elevate Creation, let’s not abandon all hope. Raster image can be screen printed if they meet certain criteria: the image must be created at 300dpi resolution or higher, in the desired print size or larger. If a high resolution image is submitted and does not need to be resized then a quality print can be achieved.

Here is an example of a low resolution JPEG and the vector conversion needed to screen print quality volunteer t-shirts for Columbia Space Memorial Center in Downey, CA.

If your raster artwork does not match the criteria it will require a vector conversion. One thing to note is that vectorized artwork will have an illustrative feel and doesn’t work too well when the desired result is photo-realistic in appearance. Artwork vectorization is perfect for text, illustration and logo images. Artwork can be digitalized from many mediums, take for example this orange t-shirt from an annual event below. Using Illustrator and photoshop, are graphic designers were able to recreate the original artwork with customer edits, element exclusions, additions and feedback.

The best way to determine whether or not your artwork file can be screen printed is by submitting it along with your quote request. Once we receive an artwork file we can evaluate and determine if it is print-ready or if it requires assistance from our graphic designers.

We’re more than happy to answer any questions you may have about getting your artwork ready for screen printing, simply contact us.


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