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The Number One Reason Your DTF Prints are Blurry

Plus seven other design tips from DTF.

After doing everything you know to print flawless graphics, you’re still unhappy with the results. Your prints are blurry. You don’t know what you’re doing wrong or why they keep turning out that way and you feel about ready to throw in the towel.

The Main Reason Your Prints Are Blurry

You’ve heard the phrase, “garbage in, garbage out.” Well, when it comes to prints, it’s not just a saying, it’s the truth. Even if your printer is extremely dialed in and has great clarity and colors, your end result will suffer if you try to print a graphic not optimized for DTF.

Optimization for DTF is essential. There’s no getting around it. You can use top-of-the-line everything, but if it’s still not optimized, you’re going to print blurry graphics.

Fortunately, this is an easy fix. Optimize for DTF and you’ll enjoy clear, well-printed graphics every time. The main reason your prints are blurry is a lack of optimization. In order to optimize for DTF, you’ll want to follow these eight steps:

1. Always Use 300 DPI.

Three hundred dpi is a necessity for clear prints and is the only way you can print graphics that look amazing. However, the default dpi for Photoshop is 72 dots per inch and for web graphics, it’s 72 pixels per inch. That means if you have a graphic to be printed 10 inches wide, it has to be at least 3000 pixels wide to avoid a blurry print.

2. Vary Designs with Open or Negative Space

The best-performing designs are varied and have open or negative space. Instead of having one solid block of ink, you’ll want to break it up with empty space. Use a color knock-out or half-toned images to create this space.

3. Darker Garments Require More Ink

Without enough ink, darker shirt colors can dull the design. To get that great color on black or dark shirts, you need more white under base because inks aren’t completely opaque. The transfer will feel thicker, however, due to the extra under base.

4. Semi-Transparent Pixels Don’t Work

Printed pixels cannot be partially transparent with DTF. In fact, it has to either be 0 or 100 percent a certain color. If you use half-tones, you may be able to achieve a semi-transparent look, but you’ll need to be careful with designs that have drop shadows, flames, or glows on darker-colored shirts.

5. Vector Files Over Raster Files

Creating vector files requires mathematical equations that define points, lines, and curves.

These equations result in a smooth, precise image that can be scaled to any size without losing quality. This means that a tiny vector logo can be enlarged to turn into a huge sign without becoming pixelated or blurry. Raster files, however, are composed of tiny squares known as pixels. Enlarging these images stretches the picture and causes the image to become blurry.

6. PNGs or PDFs

Both PNGs and PDFs have transparency information built in. When trying to print a circular logo, everything outside of the circle is invisible. This is different from a JPEG, where everything outside of the circle would be white.

7. The Garment Matters

When printing on a lightweight, next-level, dry-fit T-shirt, you have to be careful. Any graphic on this type of garment will feel a bit like plastic. On the other hand, when printing on a sweatshirt made of heavy material, you can have a thicker field of transfer.

8. The Better the Original File, the Better the File Output

This comes back to that original phrase, “garbage in, garbage out.” The files you work with should check off as many of these tips as possible. The more they use, the better the results will be.

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