How Do I Prepare a Graphic to Be Used in a Shirt?
November 26, 2012 12:13 PM   Subscribe

Is there easy instructions or a guide that I can use to create a simple image to be used to print a t-shirt? It will be solid color text on a plain background.

This is the text I got from the person who will be printing the shirts:
The max imprint area for the front and back of the shirt is 12" W x 17" H. If you can send the original vector art for the design, that is preferred. Otherwise, please send whichever file you have and we can typically work with it but will let you know if we need a different format.
I am on a university campus and have access to photoshop. Is that the best program to do this, or something else? Is there a guide somewhere that would explain how to take text and get it ready for printing based on those specifications? Or can someone provide instructions?

I'm reasonably computer competent (I know things like basic html/css, R, STATA, latex, etc.), I just haven't done much on the design side of things before.
posted by andoatnp to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you have access to Photoshop and are computer competent this will be no trouble. Make a new document in Photoshop (ctrl N, or file > new), manipulating the parameters to be 12" x 17". Then use the type tool (the icon looks like a big "T") to place your text (and to adjust spacing, typeface, etc). When it is as you like it select the layer with your type on it (there's a layers palette that is probably visible to you by default, but if you can't see it hit f7 to toggle it on and off), right click and select "convert to shape". Save the file, send it off, bask in glory.

Obviously there are a ton of best practices and Photoshop interfaces things, etc, that I am glossing over but this is a quick and dirty way to do this.
posted by dirtdirt at 12:24 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

If there are going to be three or four lines of text, is there a way to make it so that the right and left ends of each line are even with each other? Or does that happen automatically? Does "convert to shape" create the vector file that the printer wants?
posted by andoatnp at 12:26 PM on November 26, 2012

Yes, you can adjust the justification within the text tool, in a fashion similar to Word (etc, et al). And also, yes, 'convert to shape' makes the text layer a vector shape rather than editable text. The printshop may or may not have your font, if you convert to shape it won't matter.

It's a good idea to duplicate your text layer, and hide it, before you convert to shape, so you can change it when you see the typo, but that's maybe more fiddly detail than you need.
posted by dirtdirt at 2:37 PM on November 26, 2012

Photoshop is not the best tool, you want Illustrator. Same family of software, different mechanisms. If you know someone who has Photoshop, they probably have Illustrator too.

Quick explanation: Photoshop creates "bitmapped" images - they're made up of lots of tiny pixels. When you blow them up big enough, they start to look jaggedy. Illustrator creates "vector" images - they are made up of mathematical formulas so that every time you resize them, the computer re-calculates so that the lines aren't jagged and they're always crystal clear. For screenprinting you generally want vector images.

Can you give us a little more background on this project? Is this being printed at a commercial screenprinter? Because they usually have design people who will set up something simple like this for you free of charge, especially since you're just talking about a very basic layout.
posted by radioamy at 4:58 PM on November 26, 2012

What Radioamy says about Illustrator is true generally - it has much more powerful vector editing capabilities - but Photoshop has simple vector features, and will do fine for this. In fact I think it might be better for you because it IS simpler. I do tshirt designs from time to time and invariably do them in Photoshop rather than Illustrator.

Simply having the printer do it, particularly if it is just text and you have no personal 'vision' you are trying to get across, is excellent advice.
posted by dirtdirt at 5:42 PM on November 26, 2012

dirtdirt - didn't realize you could do anything vectored in Photoshop, that is good to know. Is it only in more recent versions?
posted by radioamy at 6:05 PM on November 26, 2012

I made the image in photoshop, and things worked according to dirtdirt's instructions. There didn't seem to be the option to "convert to shape", but other than that, things were smooth. I sent them a pdf and the original photoshop file earlier today, and we're supposed to get a proof from the printer in the morning.
posted by andoatnp at 7:26 PM on November 26, 2012

What version of Photoshop are you using?
posted by radioamy at 9:51 PM on November 26, 2012

It looks like vectored shapes showed up in Photoshop 5, circa AD 2000. Fully vectored text a few cycles later.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:45 AM on November 27, 2012

Oh: from this timeline
posted by dirtdirt at 7:45 AM on November 27, 2012

Here are the finished shirts. Thanks for the help.
posted by andoatnp at 4:32 PM on December 11, 2012

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