One of the tradeoffs made when working in the screen printing world is the type of artwork that can be used to create your t-shirt. Photographs, in particular, can be super tricky to reproduce, so we've prepared this quick help document to assist in determining which file types are best for use on KarmaLaunch.
While we prefer original artwork to be in a native vector format, such as SVG, we understand that's not always possible. The use of raster images, or those made up of individual pixels, has exploded in the last decade thanks in part to smart phones. These pictures (think selfies - or it's ok if you don't) are often very detailed and contain thousands or even millions of colors. We've worked diligently with our screen printing partners to optimize our manufacturing process, and have decided to limit the number of colors per print area to 8. This often times makes it difficult to use a photographic image or digital artwork from apps like Photoshop without some prep time.
We currently support these raster file types as long as your artwork contains 8 or fewer colors - PNG, JPG, JPEG, TIFF, TIF, GIF, and BMP. Most of these should look familiar to folks, but just in case, we've attached a quick definition of each. Of these image types, both JPG and PNG are more widely used by consumers than the others. The big advantage to using PNG is that it supports transparency. It might be a difficult thing to visualize, so here are two preview images that show how transparency can be your BFF, especially when designing on a dark shirt. On the left, we've used a JPG version of our logo. You can see that it comes with a pesky white background that will look pretty horrific if printed. On the right, we've used a PNG logo with a transparent background.
The white box won't be printed and you won't be subject to finger pointing and giggles (good for all).
SVG, or Scalable Vector Graphic, is our preferred file type. Unlike its raster cousin, it isn't made up of dots at all, but one that uses math. We promise there won't be any surprise quizzes with long division, it's not that kind of math. These image types, called vector graphics, are created by popular applications like Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw or Inkscape. They rely on a series of points, lines, and simple shapes to create art. Inkscape, as it turns out, is open source and free of charge*. It can be a little bit of a learning curve to pick up these techniques, but there is a lot of support both here on KarmaLaunch and in various communities across the web. There are also many sites that offer free vector art, such as our fav, OpenClipart. One mini caveat is to avoid artwork that uses gradients, like the one below. As you can imagine the number of colors grows exponentially as every color between black and red and red and yellow are represented.
These are the basics of raster vs. vector, but as always, if you have more questions, we're here to help.
* While Inkscape and other open source software is technically free, we always advocate donating to the cause.