How to Prepare Your Artwork for DTG Printing

DTG printing is different from traditional screen printing so it requires a different approach. If you want great images for your DTG prints then you will need to change the way you prepare them. You can use any graphic editing software that you wish. We’re using Photoshop for this example.

DTG Printing Requires High Resolution Images

When you view an image on the internet you will most likely encounter an image that is 72 dpi. (DPI means dots per inch.) This is a low resolution image. The image may appear very clear on the internet, however if you look closely it is not. The world wide web uses lower resolution images so that pages load faster. Nonetheless,  the images are very low resolution. When you DTG print you need high quality images to start with. A high resolution image is around 300 dpi. 

You can’t just change a low resolution image to a high resolution image. If you have an image that is 72 dpi and you want it to be high resolution, you can’t just fix it. When you increase the resolution size it will pixelate the image and make it unclear. You need to start with a good image with a high resolution. If the image is too big, then you can shrink it down. When you shrink an image it becomes crisper and sharper. 

All of this applies to your common photos. However, if you use a vector image then it doesn’t matter if you enlarge it or shrink it. It will always have the same resolution. It will never get sharper or clearer. Vector images look similar to cartoons or clipart.

Color Mode Matters in DTG Printing

There are two color modes that most people are familiar with: RGB and CMYK. RGB stands for Red, Green, Blue. This color mode indicates the percentage of each of these colors that are in one particular color. It tells you how much red is in a color. It tells you how much blue is in a color. It also tells you how much Green is in a particular color. The RGB color mode is used in web graphics. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black). Printers use these colors when printing on paper or cloth. 

So if you have an image that is in RGB mode and you want to convert that color to CMYK so you can print it you need to make some adjustments. Typically when you make a conversion like this the images turn out dull. You need to adjust the saturation slider up until you have the colors back where you want them.

Modify Your Black and White Areas

If you have an image that has a lot of black and white areas in it you need to check to see if they are actually black and white or some other color. If you are using Photoshop you can use the eyedropper tool to determine the true color.

Select the color you want and open the color picker. If you are choosing a true black color then the RGB will be R 0, G 0, B 0. 

color picker

If the color is pure white then the RGB will be R 255, G 255, and B 255. 

Any color that is not pure black or pure white will have some other color added to it. Which means that if your print is supposed to have a pure black color or a pure white color on it, it will not appear normal. You need to use your editing program to adjust those areas in your image. 

This could have a very large effect on your images and therefore your prints.

Transparent Images Work Best For DTG Printing

You’ve worked pretty hard on an image and created a file for printing. You’ve gone through all of the steps and pressed print. When your shirt comes off the printer you are shocked to see that the image has a white box around it. You don’t understand what happened. You used your finest jpg image to create your shirt. What could have possibly happened.

You used the wrong file type. A jpg will always fill in any empty space on an image with the color white. If you want it to be transparent you need to use a different file type. A png will keep the background transparent. Just resave your original image as a png you will get the transparent image you are looking for. Then you can reprint your shirt and it will come out correctly. If you don’t have the original image then you will need to remove the background to make it transparent. 


You want your images to look dazzling when they are printed on a shirt. So you need to take added steps before the printing begins to prepare your images. Now that you know that these items can be implemented into your images before printing them you must check them every single time. If you don’t check your images before printing then you will have a lot of bad shirts sitting in a pile that you can’t use. You’ll learn. 

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