The composition is something you may remember from your high school art class. Every design has elements that are arranged in relation to each other, and this relation is what makes up the overall composition.
Oftentimes, what makes for a well-designed composition can be a matter of opinion. But there are basic composition rules that can improve a design dramatically when followed. There are lots of resources online if you would like to learn to improve your composition game.
A typical mistake is elements that are too spaced out, or too bunched up. Or the entire design can be off-balance, drawing the eye to the wrong place. Or– and be especially careful here– the type could be read in the wrong order.
Yeah. So if you’re working with a variety of elements, put some time and effort into your composition. Show a few people and get feedback. Worry first, and you can be happy later.
5. Image Quality
This is one of the most common problems with our customer-submitted art files. Images are all too often “low resolution”. In other words, they don’t have enough pixel information to give us the quality and details that make for good print quality.
When you submit art files that are poor quality, typically we’ll let you know right away and ask if you have anything better. If not, there are some things we can do to fix a file. Other times there’s not much that can be done, so that crappy file could turn into an only-slightly-less crappy print.
Images from the web tend to be too small. They’re typically 72 dpi, and not at full size to be printed. Ideally, images should be 200 dpi or higher at full size.
Another problem with low-res images is they have been compressed, sometimes more than once, and have visible artifacts from that compression. Sometimes you can’t see these artifacts unless you zoom in.
If you submit a vector file, the resolution doesn’t matter because vector files scale to print perfectly to any size without losing quality. That’s why we love them the most. Vector files are typically PDF, EPS, AI, or SVG file types.
Other issues of image quality are photographs of photographs. Obviously, there will be some issues: blurriness, awkward cropping, graininess. Believe it or not, we sometimes receive a photo of a phone with a screenshot of a photo on a computer. Did you follow that? It’s like the Inception of submitted art files.
Ideally, photographs should be scanned at a high resolution for best results. We evaluate all submitted artwork for quality, so email it to us and we’ll let you know if it will work, if we can clean it up, or we need something better.
Color choices are some of the most important decisions; not only for design reasons, but if you want screen printing, making sure the job fits your budget. More colors = more cost per item. Of course, you could always buy more shirts to decrease your cost per item. Spend more to save more. Sales logic.
With screen printing, in some cases, we can use a technique called halftones, which is essentially tiny dots that can make three or four colors look like many more. It’s like magic. There’s a lot more to it, and I will be getting into that in a future post. For now, ask your sales rep if your design qualifies for halftones.
You should be thinking about colors from the moment you start designing. Colors can actually have specific effects on people, read about the science! Advertisers are well aware of this fact, and you should be too.
You can choose from our wide selection of in-house ink colors available in the Design Studio, or if you need specific colors for your brand, we offer accurate Pantone color matching. Check out some examples on the RushOrderTees Ink Labs Instagram.
You might like to use Pantone’s official Color of the Year for 2019, “Living Coral, which we mixed here. And you might want to avoid using “Opaque Couché” …the world’s ugliest color (although this was decided by a marketing company in Australia, so don’t feel too bad if that’s your favorite color).
If your print method is DTG (direct-to-garment) rather than screen printing, then we are printing in “full color” and so the number of colors as it pertains to the budget is no longer a consideration. This makes it a great choice for full-color photographs. But the way the design looks due to color choices is always a consideration, aesthetically speaking.
It can be tempting to add lots of colors as a way to make the design more vivid, but this can backfire. Use too many colors and your design can start looking ugly, as there’s more chance for clashing.
There’s almost always going to be an ideal number of colors or a small range to choose from, depending on what you might need for an official logo or to properly represent an image. Try to achieve your design goals in the least amount of colors possible, and your shirt will probably be worn more often than if it had all the colors of the rainbow.
In another post, I’ll dive deeper into color theory, complementary colors, black and white, tonal ranges, and using “simulated process” to achieve a full-color look with a limited number of spot colors.