Grunge tshirts with unpleasant large graphics that cover a sweater are crazy popular right now. Its hard to go into any store whether its a discount store or a highend boutique without seeing this style shirt on almost every level. There are lots of selfadhesive tshirt fanatics who want to create custom tshirts in this style and the odds have made you hard to find a tshirt printing company that can help you.
Right now everyone wants to create their own tshirts that are similar to the wildly popular Affliction and Ed Hardy Brand tshirt styles. For the average Joe it can be expensive and even if Affliction Style Tshirt print requests become common access to printers can not pull it off. But Ive seen some colorsublimation printers online that can do quite nice all over the tshirt printing.
Your most costeffective printing method will probably be screen printing or possibly plot printing for supersized quantities and disposables with one or two colors but if youve ever tried to send complete complex compositions to a screen printer Ive probably got your art back to you to simplify it to a point that no longer achieves your goals. The typical setting for the entire tshirt printout requires a set of screens for each sizeshirt usually with a minimum order somewhere near 72 pieces per size.
In Adobe Illustrator create a new file that is the exact size your design will be. For the custom tshirt designer I use they recommend my art to be 11.8 by 11.8 inches. If you work with a screen printer ask what screen size will be so you can set your file up to the exact size and maximize coverage. This saves you from headache or design evidence on the way.
If you already have artwork open your design and copy it to the new file.
I have chosen a graphic that is too detailed. It has gradients grunge elements and punches all of which are really cool but also make it harder for tshirt printing. If you print try to keep as much of these details as you like but with minimum printout requirements many elements may need to be increased in size or removed altogether. Keep in mind that my design will ultimately be 3 colors I need to simplify what I have.
Add a temporary background color that matches the shirt color you want to use. This helps eliminate some surprising white elements in your design and allows you to visualize the end product. Make sure you lock this background so it does not affect your changes.
Remove the hard edge background and additional items not needed in the final design. With plot printing avoid including any details less than 1.5 mm.
Change gradients to single color and reduce the number of colors used. Only solid colors can be used for plot printing technology so its important to change gradients to a color. To add a fourth color to the design I add the tshirt color. This will not be a printed color but instead will get out of the design at the later stage so that the actual sweater turns out. This is a great way to add more design details without adding more cost.
Create a new layer and name it Separations. Add another three layers INSIDE this new layer one for each color the mine is called navy orange and yellow.
Copy your artwork to the Separations layer and then hide your original layer so it will not interfere.
With all the artwork selected go to your Pathfinder palette and click the Divide button. This basically eliminates all objects and cuts all that intersects into their own object. The result is a puzzle effect without overlapping objects. All the pieces take on the characteristics of the object that was originally on top in this example the navy pants are on top of the background elements so where they crossed these pieces are now all navy.
Click on an object with the first color navy blue is used in this example and in the main menu you will find Choose Same Fill Color. With all navycolored items selected return to the Pathfinder palette and click the Merge button. This takes all smaller pieces of the same color and transforms them into an object.
Move the navy object to its own subfolder.
Continue the above steps with the other two colors orange and yellow remove any remaining items. This includes the temporary background and tshirt elements.
You can now delete any additional layers you may have for example the original layer with the unmerged artw and then save the file as a .eps file. The three layers serve as separations for your design and help you make sure your custom tshirt printer can print your art on