Is There a Difference Between Artwork

Embroidery machines can not visually see images the way you and I see them. The machines have to be told where to go and where to place a stitch. This is done with embroidery disks or files. Embroidery disks can be created from vector and raster based objects. Since the creation of these files are specialized and uses special software, we ALWAYS have to recreate the artwork into a file the embroidery machine will understand. This process is called digitizing.

As I mentioned above, it is more than just a picture file. It is an instructional file that tells the machine what to do, where to go, and how to accomplish sewing the design. Embroidery digitizing is an art form and the people who are good screen printing supplies digitizers should be recognized true artist. The digitizer not only needs to know how to make the machine function, but he/she must understand the fabric to which the design will be sewn. Each fabric has its own special qualities and adjustments for it must be made.

Another thing to remember is artwork for embroidery is less is more. Embroidery done on a standard hat or left chest is too small to capture great detail. Remember, the thread being used has dimension or thickness. The needles have size also. All this combines to say again less is more. Think about pro ball hats. Are they crammed with detail and lettering? No, they usually have a simple logo or simple text. This makes the hat look good because it allows for a bold statement. Same for left chest designs. Unlike printing on paper, embroidery can not capture the tiny writing seen on letterhead and business cards due to the thread and needle dimensions or sizes. Less is more.

Screen Printing:

Screen print art has to be color separated into separate “color plates” or film positives so a vector file is preferred. Vector files keep each color object separate and will render films with each color on their on film positive.

In screen print, each color in a design has a screen created just to print color. So, if your design has 3 colors, that’s 3 plates or film positives required at a minimum. Dark shirts have to have a white base screen so that a white ink can be put down first then the colors built on top. If we don’t do this step, the colors will not show up on the dark shirts. This requires an additional film positive or “plate”.

The film positives are used to create the screens used in the actual printing of the shirts. This work must be done in a dark room as the screens are coated with a photosynthesized solution and expose/harden in light.

As you can see, a lot goes into the prep work before your shirts are printed or embroidered. This is why good art is critical and can not be rushed. Everything after the art depends on clean useable art files. It’s like the old saying, “Garbage in, Garbage out”.

What type of artwork do you accept?

If you are supplying your own art for screen printing, the artwork must be “camera ready” in order to avoid any additional charges.


Camera-ready art is defined as black and white line art that has sharp, clean lines, requires no retouching, and is complete with text and/or graphics. We expect that you have proofread your art and/or copy before sending it to us and that it is correct and ready for immediate processing without having to be manipulated.

We prefer Corel Draw files but can accept vector eps files. However, inserting or “dropping” a.jpg into a.eps file does not make it vector.

Corel needs to be saved as X3 or prior

Illustrator files need to be v9 or prior

Photoshop files must be color separated using CHANNELS. Layers do not separate colors for producing films

Photoshop files must be provided at sized to final print size and should be 200 dpi or better

All fonts need to be converted to curves or outlines.

Artwork should be in actual print size format

Art is not camera-ready if:

MS Powerpoint (.ppt), MS Publisher, and MS Word (.doc,.docx) are not graphic programs and do not provide camera ready art. These are for publishing documents and presentations.

Art is supplied in a.jpg,.bmp, or.gif format.

Photocopied or faxed

A business card, stationery, or newsprint

Soiled, smudged, torn, or bent

We have to add text to a logo

We have to modify the file in any way.

We prefer to take Corel (.cdr), Illustrator (.ai), or Vector.eps files. Any text in these files needs to be converted to curves or they will not work on our computers since we probably don’t have the same fonts.

We can take .jpg,.bmp. o r.tiff files for illustrative reason but in most cases, we have to convert the file to vector in order to separate out the colors for printing. If this is the case, an art setup charge will likely be incurred.

WEB GRAPHICS (.GIF) FILES CAN NOT BE USED FOR PRINTING. These will be redrawn if possible but most likely they will not provide enough detail even to be redrawn. These images are design for internet use and provide minimal data as to keep the file size small so it renders on your computer faster. Most of the time, we can use these files and re-create your artwork into something useable for screen printing or embroidery but there are some times when it’s just not possible.



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