What file format and resolution do you need?

Maaike de Boer
Maaike de Boer
  • Updated

Our preferred format for DTG printing is .PNG with a transparent background (unless you want it printed / embroidered) and at least 300 dpi.

We recommend, however, that you design using a vector design tool and then export to the .PNG raster image in the size you want to print. This way you always have the highest available quality in the print file. The resolution of your design should not be more than 4724x5906px and cannot be more than 10Mb.

Although we use vector punch files for embroidery, we manually recreate the punch files to improve the stitch paths so we still prefer to receive the designs in .PNG.

Learn more about different files types and their meanings below.

 

Raster vs Vector Images

A raster image is composed of a grid of pixels, or dots. It is also known as a bitmap which in its simplest form has 2 colours, black and white, consisting of a constrained area, or map of bits, with each bit having an on or off state representing black and white.  The resolution of the image is determined by how many pixels - or dots - there are at a certain size. This is measured in dots per inch (dpi). So if you save an image with a size of 2.5cm x 2.5cm (1" x 1") at 300 dpi, but then increase the size to 5cm x 5cm (2" x 2") it implies that your resolution will drop to 150 dpi. Below is an example of loss of quality as the dpi is reduced.

IMG_0433.png

Besides resolution, colour depth, or the number of available colours, is an important factor in picture quality. A bit can only have a state of zero or one so to create complex colours we need more bits per pixel. If each pixel has 4 bits then the 2 states can have 4 permutations or 24 = 16 colours. 

 

colourdepth.png

24 bit colour is also known as "True Color" (224 = 16 million colours) and as the human eye can distinguish about 10 million colours this is as close to real colour as you can get. The 32 bit colour settings in design programs adds an Alpha channel to the colours to allow transparency and shading and increases this to about 4 billion colour combinations.

Raster file formats include:

Name File extension Description Best quality retention
BitMap Picture BMP No loss in quality but takes up a lot of disk space Tick-red.png
Joint Photographic Experts Group JPEG, JPG Most common format used for photos or images, high compression rate (average 1:10) This is called lossy as some of the image is permanently lost in the compression.  
Graphic Interchange Format GIF Older format used for Internet images. 4 to 256 colours and high compression rate  
Tagged Image File Format TIFF, TIF Low compression rate (max 1:2)  
Portable Network Graphics PNG Improved GIF format that can represent True Color and transparency. It is technically lossless but reducing the number of colours decreases the file size. Tick-red.png

 

A vector image in contrast exists of lines, curves and text that can be scaled to any size and retain their crispness. It is also called "object based" as it is constructed using mathematical formulas describing shapes, colours and placement. Editing vector graphics using a vector design tool is easy because the shapes within them can be ungrouped and edited individually. Vector graphics are not appropriate for complex images like digitised photographs however.

Below is an example of a vector graphic with a zoom into the editable points on the hand as an example.

 

rabbit.png

 

Vector file formats include:

Name File extension Description
Adobe Illustrator AI AI files render Illustrator drawings, logos, and illustrations in a high degree of detail. Their small file sizes and easy scalability make them a popular choice for many designers and illustrators.
Encapsulated PostScript EPS EPS is a vector file format often required for professional and high-quality image printing. PostScript printers and image setters typically use EPS to produce vast, detailed images — such as billboard advertising, large posters, and attention-grabbing marketing collateral.
Scalable Vector Graphics SVG Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is a web-friendly vector file format. SVGs are written in XML code, meaning they store any text information as literal text rather than shapes. This allows search engines like Google to read SVG graphics for their keywords.

 

Some examples of Vector based design programs include Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW and Inkscape. The first two are commercial software companies and the latter, Inkscape, is a free open source product.

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