Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating screen-print artwork, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
- [Artist] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. We have another great question that was submitted by somebody who watches DVG Lab, and it has to do specifically with providing vector art to a screenprinter in order to get a t-shirt printed. What's the best way to set up a file to do that, so, in this movie, I'll show you exactly how I set up artwork to provide to any screenprint vendor, and it will provide them the necessary file format that they can easily use to burn screens and silkscreen in a design on apparel, whether it be a t-shirt or a sweatshirt, any type of screenprinted graphic.
This is how you'll want to set it up, so let's jump into this and get started. I immediately gave this project to my daughter who works with me, and I said, "Savannah, "do you want to design a t-shirt and so I can show people "how to set up the final art to give to a vendor," and she said, "Yes". Now, Savannah is a great illustrator in her own right, and she's also a big fan of Japanese manga art, and she also collects dolls. She took this photo reference of a doll, and this is what inspired her and gave her a reference to draw out her design, and that's exactly what she did.
She started drawing it out. Here's the initial sketch, and then using tracing paper, she refines it and then works out additional aspects such as the pose of the body and holding this strawberry, so this is the process you want to do before you ever go to digital. You want to figure out your design and work it out really well in a drawn format, so, when you move the vector, it's going to assist in your building efforts. Savannah's my daughter, so I kind of taught her her methodology, and she does a great job.
I'm always blown away by stuff she pulls together, so this all leads to the refined sketch as you see here. Once you have this, it's just a matter of setting it to 20%, locking the layer, and then she goes about building her base vector artwork as you can see here. Now, one different approach to her vector building than for mine is, in her refined sketch, she figures out exactly what she wants to build, but she, not all the time, but most of the time, she doesn't build in pieces like I tend to do.
I like dissecting it down into more simple pieces and then fusing 'em all together using pathfinder, and she does that for certain types of things, but, on this specific project, you can see she built this entire outline, as you see here, as one shape. Well, how would you do that? Well, it'd be really hard to do that without figuring it out beforehand in a drawn form, so the drawing becomes the roadmap for precise vector building, and, once she started composing all of her colors, this is how this design came out, and because this is a Japanese-centric motif and style, she also added a Japanese word for strawberry here, and I think this is a beautiful design.
Now, it's not something I would wear, personally, but I can appreciate the style and quality to the art in and of itself, and Savannah's excited about this when she saw this. Now, when we were revealing this and revealing the colors, I love the colors she picked, by the way, I suggested, I think there's a way to improve this, and she said, "What's that," and I said, "How about in the sleeve shapes, we have a polka dot pattern "rather than the flat hue that you have here". It'll still be this hue. We'll just do a polka pattern in that hue to fill that area, and she was unsure how to go about doing that, and I said, "Well, I can show you how to create "a half tone pattern, or a dot pattern, that is," so we'll turn on this half tone layer here, and we're going to zoom in quite a bit so you can see what's going on, and all this is is a simple square with four elliptical shapes, and it has the center of these elliptical shapes are centered right over the corners of the square, so all we're going to have to do is select all five of these shapes.
Once selected, we'll drag it over to the swatches palette and let go, deselect your artwork. Let's go ahead and go back to full view like this. We're going to double click into this swatch that we'd created here, and that'll bring us into what's called pattern view mode, and, in pattern view mode, let's go ahead and zoom in on our pattern here. Here's all the pieces. Once again, they're still independent, the square and these circles, but what we're going to do is we're going to click this top tool here.
This is the pattern control tool, and it brings up this bounding box. Now, the bounding box is determining where your pattern starts and where it repeats from, and, so, we're going to, with the option key held down, drag this down until it snaps to the edge of our square like this from vertical, and then horizontal we'll do the same thing, holding option down until it snaps to the square here. What we've essentially created now is a repeat, as you can see, the sample here, so it will repeat as a pattern.
We can select the square now and just delete it, 'cause we don't need it, and all these other circles are what we want to keep to keep the pattern, and, for this one, since we want that original hue, we don't want the hue to be this pink. We want it to be, or magenta, I mean. We want it to be a pink, we'll go ahead and fill it with pink, like this, and you can even name it. We'll name this dot pattern. We'll get really creative with the name, and, now, we can double click on the background. It'll take us back to the art board, like this.
We'll zoom out, and we can go ahead and turn off this layer, but that's how I will create the pattern. Now I'm going to apply it. The first thing we want to do is select these sleeves, and we want the base color in the sleeves to be white, so we'll change that, and then we're going to select both the sleeves again, and we're going to clone 'em, command c, command f, and, just so you can see what we're doing, I'll fill these back with this color. What I've done is I've cloned that shape on top of the other shape on both sides just like that.
Now, we're going to select this, and we're going to fill it with our pattern like this, and that looks good, but it's a little too big, so how do you adjust the size? You go over into the scale tool, and we'll go ahead and double click that, open up this window, and we're going to turn off transform object, but we want to keep on transform patterns. We'll try 40%, and that looks good, so we'll go OK, and, then, all we have to do, we have the graphic styles up, and we're just going to drag this over.
Then, we can select the other shape, apply the graphic style. I'm going to cut this, command x, and then I'm going to select these highlights and command b to paste behind. I'm going to select this, command x to cut it, and paste behind the highlight so we get exactly the artwork we want, and I think this is going to work good. Now, it's at this point we want to look at our color palette. Our color palette is simply these three colors; the magenta, a mid-tone pink, and this flesh tone that's like a very faint yellow color, and what we want to do is we want our screenprinter to use three inks to print this design, but this really isn't a file set up to be screenprinted.
If we go to window, and we pull down to separation preview and open that up, you can see it's CMYK file. If we look at the top of the file, it says CMYK, and, so, this shows us the preview of all the colors making up this design. If we turn off black, you're not going to see any changes in here, because we're not using black, but, if we turn off magenta, magenta is used a lot. All that's left, now, in the preview we see on screen is cyan and yellow.
If we turn magenta back on, it'll go back to looking normal, but, if we turn cyan off, it's going to make the magenta brighter, and, if we turn yellow off, you're going to lose the tone in the face, and you can always go back to the full preview CMYK by clicking CMYK. This is previewing CMYK. We want to actually have spot colors, and, to do that, because I'm walking you through the process of some of the building of this artwork and coloring of this artwork, I'm in a CMYK file, and it uses CMYK colors to pull that off.
We're going to switch to another file of the exact same artwork here, and, yes, we are in another file, and, even though this file is CMYK, you can see our color palette here. We're going to go ahead and convert to spot colors here. Well, how do you do that? Well, under the swatches palette, you want to go to the option menu to open swatch library to color books, and we're going to go down under color books, and we're going to select the solid coated. Now, solid is just another name for spot, so we'll pick the Pantone solid coated v2.
Now, you might be wondering what v2 means. Well, when Pantone releases their colors, they have different codes they give 'em, and, if you buy the latest color book, you're going to have to install this color library into Illustrator. It's not in Illustrator by default just to let you know that. I found that out when I bought the Pantone books. Apparently, Adobe's slow to add Pantone colors. Pantone doesn't wait for 'em. They create the library, and the user has to install it themselves, so, we're going to pick 2395 spot.
We'll click it. That'll automatically add it over here to our swatches palette. We'll do the next one, and we're going to pick an equivalent to the mid-tone pink which is 237, click it. Once again, it'll add it to our swatches, and then the last tone is the flesh tone color. We'll go 7506 and click it to add over here. We can go ahead and close this window now. Now, you can see that these spot colors have been added to the list over here. Now, there is this feature down here where you can click it, and it will only show the used spot colors only.
I'm not completely sure what that's all about, because we're not even using the Pantone 7506, but it's still saying it's used, so, maybe somebody can explain that to me, because it doesn't make any sense to me why that happens, but, anyway, I just wanted to show you that really quick. What we want to do is convert all of our CMYK process colors to spot colors, and, if we select this swatch of the magenta we're using in our design, we go to select, same, fill color, it's going to select all the colors in our design using that fill color, and, with those selected, all we have to do is click on our new spot color equivalent for this color, and it will switch all of the iterations of that color in our design.
We're going to do the same thing with the pink. Now, you can do the same method where you go up to select, same, fill, but notice I have F1, option F1, set up, because that's what I do. I never go to the menu. I just select the color, and I go option F1. It selects all those colors. I can go over here, select pink now. It changes all those. Now, when you use this feature, it won't change the color within the pattern itself. I'm not sure why.
It really should. That's something Adobe needs to fix in my opinion, but we'll click into the pattern, select our shapes, apply the new mid-tone pink, and then just click back out, and, now, that's been changed, and the last one we're going to do is the flesh tone. Now, if you look at the flesh tone, it's not highlighting this swatch in our library. That's because we have a tint applied to it. This is another, I wouldn't call it a bug, just a missing feature is that, even though it's just a tint, it should highlight the primary base color that's being used, but it doesn't, so what we're going to do is we'll do the same thing.
We're going to select all the same fill color using that, and you can see it will select those shapes, and we'll apply the new color. Now, if I just click it once and go to color, you'll see that it's only applying the spot color, but it's still a tint. You need to make sure to click once and then a second time to get rid of the tint and to have the full value being displayed, because that's what we want: the full value, so now that we've done this, if you go to the option menu on the swatches palette, you can go select unused colors, and, if you click this, it'll select all the colors that are unused, but notice it's only selecting one.
What I usually do instead is I go to action, palettes, scroll down to delete unused panel items, and this is going to delete any graphic styles, brushes, or colors that aren't being used in a design. I'll just click this, and you can see it's removed all the colors, but notice it's left this original magenta color, and, at times, Illustrator gets a little frustrating, because it's like it's saying, "No, it's in the design". You're going, "No, it's not in the design".
It's nowhere in my design, but Illustrator is saying, "Nope, it's in your design". Well, it really isn't. I don't know why it does this at times, and, in which case, I just select it, grab it, move it down to the trash, and get rid of it like it should be. Now, we have a design setup where all three of our swatches are distinctly spot color swatches, and this is the file I will then want to save and send to a screenprinter so they can match this spot color ink to an actual, physical ink in a can that they would put on a screen and screenprint with.
Now, I should point out that the colors you see displayed on screen, you can't really trust your screen color, 'cause this doesn't look anything close to the actual spot colors that I looked at in a Pantone swatch book, so you have to trust the book and punch in the colors and kind of just ignore what you see on screen knowing that they're going to match based off the physical Pantone book on the printer's end. Now, if we go back to the separations panel here, let's take a look at this, you can see, if we turn off CMYK, it doesn't affect our design, because we have no CMYK colors in this whatsoever, but, if we turn off our magenta spot color, this is what's left, so, when the printer isolates this design with the source file that we're going to provide 'em, and they decide to print the screen for the mid-tone pink, this is what it's going to look like.
If they decide just to print the magenta, this is what that screen art is going to look like, and then, if they print just the color for the flesh tone, this is what it's going to look like. This is the specific file that you need to save out at this point, and I would usually deliver it to a screenprinter in the lowest format possible that I could get, so maybe CS5, CS6, because they tend to not be on the latest version of Adobe Illustrator, and you're asking for problems if you expect them to try to convert it or use it.
It could cause issues, so, in this case, you should be more than safe to save down to like CS5, for example, and send that to the vendor. If we go back to our original file, we'll go back to layers here. I'll just show you how the final preview of the design is going to print on a shirt. Now, everything I walked you through covers traditional screenprinting by hand. We now have digital apparel printing, and, with that, you wouldn't have to worry about selecting spot colors and setting your file up for a vendor so that they can physically match those colors with actual ink.
We could simply send the digital art as originally created and call it good. Design technology, more and more, is kind of blurring these lines between traditional and digital. As long as you know how to do both, you can pick whichever method you prefer for designing and selling your own, original t-shirt art. So, if you have a question, make sure to send it in. I really appreciate the questions. They're good ones, and it allows me to show you things I might not otherwise think of. Just make sure to send your question to email@example.com.
Until next time, never stop drawing.
Skill Level Intermediate
Q: Why can't I earn a Certificate of Completion for this course?
A: We publish a new tutorial or tutorials for this course on a regular basis. We are unable to offer a Certificate of Completion because it is an ever-evolving course that is not designed to be completed. Check back often for new movies.