The color spectrum used for printing is less varied compared to what you’ll see on your computer screen. Avoid making brightness a key component of your design since printers won’t be able to reproduce vivid colors precisely.
Although we accept files in different color spaces, our system only works in RGB (red, green, and blue). Please note that we will convert any CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) files you upload to RGB.
RGB vs. CMYK
People, computers, and printers view colors differently. The human eye is capable of seeing so called ‘visible light’ – the range of the electromagnetic spectrum between infrared and ultraviolet, that is basically equivalent to the colors of the rainbow.
Computers, on the other hand, are programmed to distinguish different tints and colors of specific red, green, and blue compositions.
And, last but not least, printers operate in yet another coding scheme: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK).
If these three perspectives don’t line up correctly, an end product’s print colors will look different from that same item on a computer screen. Learn how to get the best print color to match your vision with the final product as much as possible.
RGB to CMYK
When someone makes or uploads a design with different print colors, the image is saved in computer software as RGB. However, before the design is printed, that RGB format must be converted into CMYK.
This is because, instead of a screen projecting various print colors, the tints we perceive on a garment are only the reflected wavelengths of visible light.
Print Colors and What Affects Them
Our print providers convert the design files to the appropriate color space and profile, depending on their process. Please be aware that physical printing limitations cannot produce the full range of RGB spectrum.
Each printing company uses different software for converting files. Not only that, but their printers, color profiles, settings, and processes also differ. Color inconsistencies are sometimes a problem, especially for DTG printing. So your prints can vary depending on many different factors.
- Printer errors
- Print provider’s workflow
- Garment color and material
- Your monitor settings, and more.
Here is an example of a common issue in how a computer will display your design and how the garment will look once printed when it comes to color consistency in printing and publishing across the web.
We encourage our merchants to create their designs in any desired or preferred colorspace. However, before exporting the file, we suggest you change the colorspace to CMYK or choose this setting when exporting.
This way, you would get an approximate idea of the color shift and ensure accuracy for your mockups. The expected outcome will be much closer to the final product without any significant color shifts.
In the future, we will have this feature built into our product generator. But for now, this is an easy way to check and match the final result to your mockups.
This is super important for those who prefer using more exotic, flashy, or stand-out print colors – those bright bits may not have the exact same color on a product as it does on a screen.
AOP Color Limitations
The conversion is not the only aspect affecting your final print. Each print provider uses different equipment for different printing methods, resulting in slight discrepancies in the color, especially for all-over-print (AOP) products.
For example, many of the blank items used – such as tees, leggings, hoods, etc. – are white by default and are then printed on with your colors and designs. As the garment itself is white, putting a pitch-black color or design on top may sometimes translate to a gray/charcoal gray tone. Any intense and dark or bright colors might not come out as vibrant as you’d like.
Why? This is due to the bright ink being unable to fully penetrate white fabric, therefore bringing down the tone’s opaqueness. In short, the white fabric still shows through and makes for a more translucent tone.
Shades of Blue
Printing blue and purple tones can be extra tricky since the two are very close within the color spectrum. Both navy blue and dark purple colors are known to shift.
Different shades of blue that are similar to purple tones can be printed as purple shades – and vice versa, due to color conversion. If you’re worried about the final print regarding your blue shades, try adjusting the colors accordingly on your software.
You need to change the color settings to evade undesired shades of blue or purple. To avoid purple, use a small percentage of magenta and a heavy percentage of cyan (the difference should be 30-40%). To avoid blue, reduce the percentage of cyan and increase the one for magenta.
While this affects shades of blue the most, the same principle applies to yellow-orange and other close-color inconsistencies. Keep the color-mixing process in mind when designing, and remember that the physical color output might differ slightly.
These are general guidelines since there are many different factors (listed above) that can affect the final print.
Embroidery Colors (Threading)
In addition to raw printing capabilities, some products can support embroidery. This means that a creator’s design will appear on their final products – but will be created from a colorful thread rather than ink. This is a popular option for those seeking a finished item with a different visual (and texture).
Please see our complete embroidery guide to ensure that your embroidered items come out as fresh as printed ones. As threading is a bit less malleable than ink, consider using designs that match these quick tips.
- Use Large Designs. Big, bold designs are the best contenders here. Furthermore, avoid using small, overly detailed designs. If simplifying a design isn’t an option, perhaps consider switching back to ink.
- Consider the Proper Colors. This refers to not including too many different colors within one design. We recommend a maximum of 16. We have a definite list of available colors for your prints. The colors in your design will match the closest available thread color from that list.
- Align With Design Placements. Sometimes, a design looks great on the computer but won’t translate onto a real product well. To dodge this pitfall, analyze your designs for small areas of dead space (gaps, holes, etc.). Once identified, these locations can be filled in with color to make the final design appear sharper.
- Mind the Background Cropping. Your design will be digitized to cover the available embroidery space. If your design includes a large background, please be aware that this area will likely be cropped.
- Utilize Proper Digitization. This is the process through which a machine takes your artwork, then converts it into an embroidery format for sewing onto a product. The creation of one of these stitch files can take up to two days – especially for designs with lots of small details.