Tshirt designs that work - what to know about your artwork

We want your artwork to look great on your garment - just the way you intended. Whether you're ordering a tshirt, sweatshirt, or any other garment, most of the following rules apply.

Most of our customers prepare their own artwork and supply us with "process-ready" art. However, our art department can do everything from simple art touch-up and film output to complete design creation and implementation. Find out more about our art department.

We've prepared a list of FAQs for you based on your needs:

I need QuickDraw! to create my artwork
I plan to supply QuickDraw! with my own artwork

Art Department

Our art department is equipped with the best computers, printers, film processors and plain raw talent. We can do everything from simple art touch-up and film output, to complete design creation and implementation.

Our art department uses both Mac and PC computers and supports the latest versions of the most popular graphics programs. We have a traditional graphic arts camera as well as high-end laser printers and image setters, allowing us to output directly to film from any traditional or electronic art you provide.

If you provide us with "process-ready" art, there will be no art charges associated with the production of your order. However, if your art is not provided process-ready, we will probably need to do art preparation for you.

We can also take an unfinished design or idea and transform it into a professional-quality graphic for any T-shirt, hat, promotional item, etc.

Creative Services

Quick Draw!’s full-service art department can help you be as creative and/or professional as you want. Just give us a call or come in to talk about your needs and ideas, and we'll work with you to create a custom design.

Call 310-477-6770 and ask for Jennifer.

Creating Your Own Artwork

If you or your chosen graphic artist will supply art directly to us, there are a few steps you should follow to ensure the best printing:

  1. Understand how to make your art "process-ready"
  2. Decide whether you want spot color or (4-color) process color
  3. Use the appropriate software and file format for the job
  4. Use appropriate color mode and resolution
  5. Convert or send fonts
  6. Send us artwork on a floppy disk, CD, or Zip disk
  7. Include a printed proof of your design

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If you provide us with "process-ready" art, there will be no art charges associated with the production of your order. However, if your art is not provided process-ready, we will probably need to do art preparation for you.

Process-ready means that the art can be printed to a screen without any additional preparation. For most of our clients, this means computer-generated artwork in an appropriate file format, at the correct size and resolution. Some clients will want to supply us with camera-ready artwork, which we will also accept as process-ready.

You may provide us with artwork that is not process-ready, and we will happily prepare it for screen printing. This may be appropriate if you are not proficient with the appropriate software, or if you choose to do the design using physical media such as paint or paper. However, there will be a charge for this final preparation. Contact the Art Department to find out more.

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Most designs for T-shirts and other promotional products work best as spot color designs. This means that the design is made up of specific individual colors. The two most popular (and possibly the best) programs for creating spot color designs, and designs that have a lot of text in them are Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW.

Process color mixes four colors of ink to create many colors, and is best only for designs that are meant to look photographic. Process color art is best when created in a raster-based program like Adobe Photoshop, although good results can also be obtained in a program like Corel Paint.

For examples of spot color vs. process color printing, look at some samples of our work. For more information, see About Screenprinting.

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When used correctly computers can make screenprinting much easier than traditional methods. However, incorrectly produced or handled computer-generated art can cause a lot of extra work and frustration for everyone involved. Please pay close attention to these details to save everyone a lot of grief.

First, decide if your design will be spot-color or process-color printed. (See info above) Then choose one of the following programs (Mac and PC are both acceptable):

Software Color
Adobe Illustrator


Corel Draw Spot
Quark Express Spot
Adobe PageMaker Spot
Adobe Photoshop (see below) Process

Warnings about software:

Please don't create your art in a word processing program! Such a design usually winds up having to be recreated almost from scratch in the correct program.

It is unfortunate when someone spends a lot of time and effort creating a design, only to find out after it’s finished that the design can not be used because it was created in the wrong program. Many people have done this because they don’t have access to a good graphics program, and this gets them into trouble. A program like Microsoft Word comes with a good selection of clip art, and allows you to create graphics, shapes and text effects in many colors, but it is difficult (and often times impossible) to print color separations from word processing programs so you wind up with a design that looks great on your monitor, or prints out nicely on your ink jet printer, but is unusable as art for screenprinting.

Adobe Photoshop, while being a powerful and versatile program, can also cause problems. For example, many people create designs in Photoshop that look great on the monitor (cool 3-D effects and color blends), but it is often difficult to screenprint these kinds of images in simple spot colors. So, an economical 2 or 3 spot color image then must be printed as 4-color process (which significantly increases the cost at quantities below 1,200), OR we wind up having to recreate the design in a simpler form (usually in Adobe Illustrator), which adds art costs. Photoshop also can cause problems with text or small logos. Since Photoshop builds images using pixels, text or logos that look good on your screen may not print correctly.

Also, please don't change the format of your design just to make it easier to email.

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What looks good on a computer screen may not look good when printed. Why? usually because of confusion about colors or resolution.

Colors on one monitor will look different than they will on another. More importantly, there is no guarantee that a color will look the same on your monitor and in a screen print. There are steps you can take to make this easier.

First, create your artwork in CMYK mode. The normal color mode for computers, RGB, uses some extreme colors that are impossible to print.

Second, when assigning colors to your art, please use Pantone colors, and refer to a Pantone Color Book to verify accuracy. Since computer monitors and color printers are often inaccurate, the only way to ensure that your colors are reproduced accurately is by referring to Pantone colors.

Many people become confused about file sizing and resolution. This is only critical if you decide to use process color. For commercial printing, you want a lot of technical data: images should be 300 ppi, uncompressed, in CMYK color. Your files will be large, don't worry.

Creating art for printing is not the same as creating art for use on computer screens! If you've created images for the Web, you've wanted your images as small as possible for quick downloading: 72 ppi, compressed, in RGB or indexed color. Often, these files are under a 100k. If you use one of these tiny Web images in your printed work, images will be very pixellated or “jaggy,” and the color quality will be poor. Using Web images in print will look very disappointing.

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You may want to use an usual font in your design that we don't have. That's great, but we won't be able to print it unless you do one of the following:

  1. Convert ALL fonts in your artwork to "paths", "curves" or "outlines". Note: once you do this, you won't be able to edit them like text anymore, so this should be one of the last stages of the art production process. In fact, we recommend creating a new copy of the file for this.
  2. If font conversion is impossible, send use all of the fonts used in the artwork, along with a paper printout of the artwork, to show how the fonts should look.

How to send us fonts:
The primary font format for Macintosh is PostScript. The fonts come in two main parts: a screen font (usually in a suitcase) and a printer font. If the font has multiple weights (such as plain, bold, italic, and bold italic), each weight will have a separate printer font. Make sure you are sending us all parts of a font, as this is one of the most common mistakes.
The primary font format for Window-based computers is the TrueType font. All of your installed TrueType fonts are usually located in the WINDOWS/FONTS folder, and contain the .ttf file extension. All you need to do is copy the necessary font files to your Zip disk or CD ROM. Oftentimes the filenames are very cryptic, but if you doubleclick on a font file, you’ll get a preview window so you know you’re about to copy the right ones.
Note for Windows users: Please DO NOT copy the entire Fonts folder, as it is a system folder and as such can cause odd problems when copied to a different machine. Be sure to copy just the font files themselves.

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You can mail us files using one of the following media:

  • 3.5" Diskettes
  • Iomega ZIP drives, 100 mb
  • CD ROMs

Our address is:
2244 Federal Ave
West Los Angeles, CA 90064

If you like, you can email us your artwork. Please call first so we know to expect a large file. Send to jayson@quickdraw1.com Remember, please don't change the format of your design just to make it easier to email!

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Whether you mail us your art, bring it into us, or email, we'll need a hard copy (paper printout in color or B&W) of your artwork at actual size. If it is not possible to provide this at actual size, then write the size desired on the paper art.

This step is very important, as it allows us to confirm that the file we have truly matches your intent after we've put it into our system.

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Following these instructions should ensure trouble-free processing of your artwork in our art department, but due to the nature of computers and file transfers, it may still be necessary for us to spend some art time making your artwork ready for screenprinting. In such a case, art charges may apply but you will be informed of this before work is begun.

We hope this section provides you with all the information you need. If you have any questions, feel free to call our Art Department. Call 310-477-6770 and ask for Jennifer. Or, click here to find out other ways to contact us.