t-shirt printing blog

Posts Tagged: tips

09 Oct

DTG Printing on a Canvas Tote Bag

direct to garment printed tote bag

One very popular item we often find ourselves customising, is the trusty tote bag. We are based in Shoreditch, east London – and in this area you can’t walk two minutes down the road without seeing one dash past you. Londoners love them. That’s why they make such great promotional items, merch and give-aways. For high volume orders, getting your tote bags screen printed would be your best bet and they will last super well. For more of a promotional ‘hand out’ bag, totes that are digitally Direct to Garment printed are a fantastic option.

Here’s an example of a DTG printed canvas tote…

digital Direct to Garment Printed canvas Tote bag


We printed these natural canvas tote bags the other week for the Courtauld Institute Of Art, they were designed by Bullet Creative. These were digitally Direct to Garment printed and as you can see, this particular print technique has handled reproducing this “painting style” image really well. Even though canvas tote bags often do have a slight texture to them, DTG printing can still adhere to this particular surface very nicely, with the full colour artwork not suffering at all.

If you have any questions about any of our printing techniques, drop us a line at: sales@iconprinting.com or give us a ring on 0207 183 8431. For more info on Digital Direct to Garment printing on t-shirts and tote bags take a look at our website.


28 Jun

What is digital DTG (Direct To Garment) Printing?

In a nutshell, how does this print process work?

Direct to Garment printing is the newest and most exciting way to print onto garments. DTG digital garment printing involves the use of a highly modified inkjet printer with specially formulated garment inks which are heat set with a heat press or tunnel dryer. Unlike screen printing artwork files, DTG files do not require any layer separation, or any films/screen prep. Once your artwork is ready on the computer it is ready to output directly onto the garment.

Our digital Direct to Garment DTG printed garments

Because of the lack of steps required for DTG, small orders or “one offs” can be quickly and economically produced in a seemingly infinite number of colors – whilst also handling complex artwork with ease. Production times for DTG is similar to transfer printing, but much quicker than screen printing. With DTG digital garment printing there is virtually no “hand” (common term in the industry referring to how a garment feels once the design has been printed on it) on light and white garments and minimal feel on dark garments.

Pros -

  • Cheaper than screen printing – for low quantity orders
  • No set up fees
  • Very few artwork limitations, so great for replicating photographs, illustrations or full colour designs
  • Quick turnaround

Cons -

  • Not quite as durable/long wearing as screen printing
  • Unable to match Pantone colours exactly
  • The print may feel slightly ‘thicker’ on coloured and dark garments compared to printing onto white -due to the underbase layer.

What files types need to be supplied when DTG printing?

  • Good quality, hi-resolution .JPG, or .PNG files – if you’ve created your artwork in Adobe Photoshop, please save your file at at least 100% of your required print size. For a guide on saving .PNG files for DTG printing, please click here.
  • Please provide artwork at a minimum of 300 dpi, saved as CMYK colour mode.
  • Other file types we accept for DTG printing is Adobe Illustrator vector based files – .EPS, .AI or .PDF.
  • When providing vector based artwork please be sure all your fonts and strokes are outlined (for a tutorial on this, click here).

Are there any garments that take to DTG printing better than others?

For the best results print onto items with a tighter weave, DTG will print better onto t-shirts rather than polo shirts for example. A garment with a fabric composition of 100% cotton or a poly cotton blend will produce excellent print results. Other fabric types such as nylon or polyester shouldn’t be DTG printed, transfer printing would be advised here.

What’s the best way to care for you DTG printed garments?

White Shirts

  • Wash inside out.
  • Hand or machine wash in cool or warm water (NOT HOT).
  • Line dry or machine dry on delicate setting.

Light & Dark Colored Shirts

  • Always wash inside out and the first two washings by itself.
  • Hand or machine wash in cool water (NOT WARM OR HOT).
  • Line dry or machine dry on delicate setting.

For any more information on direct to garment printing, or any of our other print processes please get in touch! You can email us at: sales@iconprinting.com or call 0207 183 8431.


16 May

5 Tips on Designing Artwork for Screen Printing…

Here are a few important pointers on what not to do when creating your artwork. By following these guidelines it will maximise the quality of your screen printed garment.

1. Web Images

Using images from the web can be handy, but note that most of the time these images are very small and set to only 72 dpi (very low image quality). Web designers use the lowest resolution and size possible so that their pages load fast while keeping the images looking good. Due to this, the image downloaded is designed to look good at the relatively small size it appears on screen and not printed out here in the real world. When it comes to screen printing, these forms of photo images should be avoided altogether – but vector based images are absolutely fine.

screen print 1

As shown above, many internet images are very pixelated and blurred.

2. Details

Try to avoid very small negative spaces as they can fill in or “bleed”. Ink is a fluid and therefore spreads a little bit by nature. So a very small negative space (such as the words “Screen Printing” – shown in the image below) can be filled in by the ink that surrounds it pretty easily. However, there is no hard and fast rule for avoiding bleed on small type/detailing, so every piece of artwork will be evaluated on a case by case basis. However, a good general guideline is to use fonts at or above 12 points and lines or outlines stroke size larger than 0.3 pt.

screen print 2

The fine or “light” version of this typeface is not a good choice, the hairline box detail also wouldn’t print.

3. Illustrator Effects

Illustrator has some cool effect options, but you’ve got to be careful when using them – especially when creating artwork for screen printing. Try to avoid drop shadow or gradient effects. These often look good (at first glance) and add dimension, but they complicate your file by mixing image types and this type of effect doesn’t translate to the screen successfully. If you do want a slight shaded area effect or gradient within your design or logo, it will need to be made up of a series of very small dots (when viewed close-up) that from a distance, create the look of a gradient or difference in tone. It is more time consuming, but the outcome is a much better print.

screen print 3

4. Transparencies

In Illustrator, when two shapes overlap and the one on top has opacity set lower than 100%, the color of the shape below it will affect its color. For example (see below), when the circle on the bottom is red and the one on top is blue with 50% opacity, the overlapping portion is violet. But when it comes down to printing, it almost never works out like that due to unpredictable ink transparencies and intermingling pigments.  If you’ve got a red + blue = violet type scenario, use a spot color violet instead of transparencies.

screen print 4

5. Problem Colours

Inks have varying degrees of transparency. A few color ranges are very transparent and do not look good when printed on a particular colour under base – whether that’s another ink layer or your actual garment colour. This can leave areas looking splotchy, washed out and generally poor. Darker blues tend to be one of these and, unless you’re printing on to white garments, avoid using them. Another one to look out for, is bright fluorescent inks, they too are very transparent and tend to lighten up and lose brightness when printed on an under base.

If you have any questions about your artwork, we are here to help! Drop us an email or just give us a ring -

sales@iconprinting.com or on 0207 183 8431


19 Apr

TUTORIAL: Photoshop Secrets! Part Two.

This is our next installment on a series of posts about undocumented Photoshop shortcuts and tricks. For our previous 5 pointers – click here.

1. Hide Other Layers

By holding down Opt whilst also clicking on the visibility icon, this hides all other layers.

Photoshop secrets

2. Navigate layer blending mode

This is a super quick way of viewing all the different blending mode options available for use upon a layer. Just hold down Opt + Shift +-OR+” key which allows you to navigate through the various modes/effects.

Photoshop secrets

3.  Navigate the tool list

You can navigate through the tool list by pressing Shift + tool shortcut. For example: B = Brush tool, if you press Shift + B again, you will switch to Pencil tool. If you hover your mouse over the various tool options, you will see that they each carry a letter shortcut – indicating what letter shortcut to press.

Photoshop secrets

4. Opacity

You can set the layer opacity by pressing the number keys (ie. 1 = 10%, 2 = 20%…). Also, when you have the brush tool selected, pressing the number keys will adjust the brush opacity.

Photoshop secrets

5. Increase / decrease brush size

With the Brush tool selected, you can increase / decrease the brush size by pressing [ or ] key (square bracket key). Press Shift + [ or ] will increase / decrease brush hardness.

Photoshop secrets


We’ll be posting the next set of tricks in a few days time, so do pop back.

For more information on custom t-shirt printing, get in touch :)