Are you interested in creating custom t-shirts but unsure where to start? With so many printing options and technical terms, it can be overwhelming for a beginner. In this article, we will break down the essential terminology and guide you through the process, from design to print. Please click here for more details east london printers


Before printing, you need a design. This can be created using graphic design software like Adobe Illustrator or Canva. Keep in mind the following:

  • Resolution: Ensure your design has a high enough resolution (measured in DPI – dots per inch) to print clearly. A minimum of 300 DPI is recommended.
  • Color mode: Use RGB (red, green, blue) for digital designs, but convert to CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, key/black) for printing, as CMYK produces more accurate colors on fabric.
  • File format: Save your design as a vector file (AI or EPS) or a high-resolution raster file (JPEG or PNG).

Printing Methods

Familiarize yourself with these common t-shirt printing methods:

  • Screen printing: A traditional method involving screens, ink, and a squeegee. Ideal for large orders and detailed designs.
  • Direct-to-garment (DTG) printing: Inkjet technology prints directly onto the shirt. Suitable for small orders, photorealistic designs, and quick turnaround times.
  • Heat transfer: A heat press applies a pre-printed design onto the shirt. Great for small orders, vinyl designs, and quick production.

Printing Terminology

Understand these key terms to communicate effectively with printers:

  • Ink: The colorant used in printing. Choose from plastisol, water-based, or discharge ink, each with its own characteristics and advantages.
  • Pantone colors: A standardized color matching system ensuring consistent colors across different materials and printers.
  • Bleed: The area around the design that extends beyond the trim area, ensuring a seamless print.
  • Trim: The final size of the printed design.

Preparing Your File

Before sending your design to print, ensure:

  • Color separation: Separate your design into individual colors for screen printing or keep it combined for DTG printing.
  • File format: Convert your file to the printer’s preferred format (e.g., PSD, TIFF, or PDF).
  • Resolution and size: Confirm your design meets the printer’s resolution and size requirements.


With this beginner’s guide, you’re now equipped to navigate the world of t-shirt printing terminology. Remember to consider design resolution, color mode, and file format, and understand the different printing methods and key terms. By following these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to creating high-quality, custom t-shirts that meet your vision.