6 Artwork Tips for Direct to Film Transfers

Are you a perfectionist, too? Do you find yourself frustrated with a project because it didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to?

The same can be said for those who are in the customization business. 

One of the first and most important steps in getting the perfect art for a custom project is the artwork. 

In this article, we’ll drop the curtain and let you in on our pre-production and design phase specifically for direct to film (DTF) printing. 

That means you’ll find that extra edge you’ve been longing for to make your designs as close to perfect as possible.

If that’s of interest to you, read ahead.

Tip #1: Design your Artwork with Negative Space

If, after reading the headline of the first tip, it raises more questions for you than it answers… it’s because it needs to be looked at in context.

So, the natural question then is: What does ‘’negative space’’ mean in the context of designing artwork for DTF printing?

If it helps, you can think of it as just a layout that includes gaps or openings throughout the design.

These gaps and openings serve a specific purpose in the design — they make it so that you have to apply less ink and adhesive to the garment. Which, in turn, results in a softer, lighter, and more comfortable final product.

So make use of including negative artwork in your design as much as you can while keeping a balance with what looks good!

How’s that for starters? Let’s keep our conversation going as there are a handful of other tips we want to go over today.

Design Your Artwork With Negative Space or So-Called ‘’Show Through’’ Technique

Tip #2: Adjust your Color Settings

Nothing is more frustrating than when you print out the artwork and the first thing you notice about it are the colors — they don’t match up with the ones you saw on your computer screen!

We understand how you feel. Remember, we’re custom product decorators too — we’ve had our fair share of mistakes around here.

We can tell you upfront that most likely the problem for inaccurate colors is your color settings.

So do yourself a favor and double-check if you’re using RGB color mode when designing artwork.

Now, you may ask, why is it so important to work in RGB color mode?

The quick answer is color gamut. RGB color mode offers a wider range of colors than other color modes, such as CMYK.

Which is where it gets really interesting. It turns out, DTF printers typically use CMYK colors to create prints.

This means that if you design your artwork in RGB color mode, the colors may not translate accurately when printed using DTF technology.

So, what’s the solution here? It’s simple: you need to convert these RGB colors to CMYK colors before sending to print.

So, that’s that. But, there are more of these tips coming, so keep on reading.

Adjust Color Settings So That The Colors on The Display

Tip #3: Create Sharp Outlines Without Using ANY Shades, Gradients, or Blurs.

You’re an artist! You have the talent for expressing yourself in ways that words cannot.

Tell us if this is true: you sometimes get carried away with adding too many details, special effects, or other unnecessary elements.

We can understand the enthusiasm, but there are a few guidelines you ought to follow if you want to have flawless prints.

Regardless of how deeply in love you are with a design, it’s important to remember that sometimes less is more.

Which is the case with DTF printing. You see, designs with too many (and overly small) details, special effects or unnecessary elements can be difficult or simply impossible to transfer onto the material.

This is why it’s important to simplify everything; aim to strike balance between your creative enthusiasm and DTF printer capabilities.

Let’s look at one practical way to do this.

It is actually quite simple, all that you are to do is create sharp outlines for your artwork without using any shades, gradients, or blurs.

By doing so, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your design will transfer accurately onto the material and that all the details will be clearly visible.

Okay, so how about a few more quick tips?

Tip #4: Unlock the Full Potential of your DTF Prints with Vector Graphics

There are two methods you can use to design your artwork — raster and vector — with each having its own strengths and weaknesses.

To give you a quick overview, raster graphics are made up of tiny pixels that come together to form an image. Vector graphics, on the other hand, are made up of mathematical equations allowing for clean lines and sharp edges, and unlimited scaling.
So the logical question, of course, is: Which one is the best?

If you picked vector graphics, you’re on the right track! Vector graphics are generally considered the superior choice for DTF printing. For the reasons just mentioned.

It’s not to say that raster graphics are bad. There are times when they could come in handy. For example, at times when you wish to print a photo, meme, screenshot, or things of that nature onto a piece of fabric.

Okay you get the idea! There’s another tip we’d like to share with you, so let’s talk about it next.

Tip #5: Choose the Right Vector Graphics Software

We don’t have to tell you that there are many graphics software options available these days.

You’ve likely heard of Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator already, but are there any other alternatives out there that you should know about?

Short answer — Yes!

And you don’t have to look far to find them.

Some applications worth mentioning here are Affinity Designer, CorelDraw, Transfer Express Easy View, and CorelDraw. All of which are incredibly good choices for direct-to-film transfers.

What it comes down to at the end of the day are two things. Number one, can it get the job done? And number two, does it fit your budget and skill level?

We can’t answer these questions for you. But what we can do is… offer you our thoughts and opinions.

If you’re a professional graphic designer, you need advanced software. Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator tick that box.

However, if you’re just starting out or working on a tight budget, you may want to go with either Transfer Express Easy View or Canva.

Another great way to ensure you receive the best, high-quality art for DTF printing is by outsourcing. 

ColDesi Graphics is a premium graphics and art service where you can bring your designs to life. You simply choose what art you want to create or tweak, fill out a order detail form, and a graphic designer will start working on it! 

This is a great option for those of you who may want to spend less time creating the artwork and focusing on the production aspect.

The choice is yours, of course.

Choose The Right Vector Graphics Software for Your Direct to Film Transfers

Tip #6: Choose the Right DTF Printer

Are you unsure which DTF printer to get? Lucky for you, we’ve solved this puzzle for you.

No more mindless browsing around for hours on end trying to figure out which DTF printer is right for you!

We’ve selected some of the best DTF printers money can buy — The DigitalHeat FX 12H2, 24H2, 24H4, and Roland BN-20D — all of which can be purchased from our store: https://colmanandcompany.com/dtf-printers.html

Choose The Roght DTF Printer for Your DTF Transfers

You are now equipped with six valuable tips that will help you prepare your artwork for DTF printing!

Our hopes are that you will use them on your next project.

We wish you good luck with your custom decoration business!

For one-on-one help simply call 800-891-1094 or live chat with one of our pros!



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