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Creating Artwork for DTG

(April 2014) posted on Tue May 07, 2013

Optimize your apparel designs for digital direct-to-garment printing.


By Thomas Trimingham

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Simpler images with sharp, properly defined edges can be defined quickly using the Magic Wand tool. The only concern in these cases is if the extracted part of the image has certain colors that lack contrast or need a border to look appropriate on a shirt color that differs from the original image. To test the image, create a new layer below the image and drop the color in it. A good way to keep the test accurate is to download a color reference from the actual garment and then stretch it out to cover the background layer (Figure 2).
If the design needs a boost to correct for poor contrast or color clash against the T-shirt color—for example, yellow text against a yellow shirt—then you can always add an effect to the extracted design with a stroke, a drop shadow, or an outer glow.

If you’re working with a complicated design that fades out into the background, try to use the Color Range tool and then adjust the fuzziness of the capture to define just the background outside of the active design area. This selection can be then saved to an extra channel.

The next step is to use this selection from the channel (Ctrl-click or Cmd-click on the channel) and go back and create an extra layer above the original image. You can then carefully blend this additional layer into the active design elements using Photoshop tools such as the Airbrush and Pen. In this manner, you can quickly create an extraction that blends slowly in some areas that fade out and still leaves the design nice and clean in areas such as type and geometric shapes with sharp outlines (Figure 3).

Once this layer is defined, then you can select it and copy the original layer and then delete the selection to create a floating version of the design. There are always exceptions to art techniques, and it may be that in using a Color Range selection some elements inside of the design area are selected that you didn’t want extracted or deleted. This is where the advantage of copying to a channel comes in. Any area that you don’t want in the selection can be deleted quickly prior before you delete the image border from the design.


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