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Design Basics

While we welcome and encourage a wide range of art styles and media, there are a few key things to consider to optimize your work for print. This article should shed some light on:

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Graphics Software

Our uploader accepts both JPEG and PNG, but we recommend uploading in PNG format because they allow for transparent backgrounds and their small size makes for quicker uploads.

We also recommend choosing a software that supports the CMYK color profile.

  1. Adobe Photoshop (Paid, CMYK feature built in)
  2. GIMP (Free, requires CMYK plugin)
  3. Paint.NET (Paid, requires CMYK plugin)

For more information on setting up your designs for success (such as resolution, file type, and color profile), check out our Dimensions & Format article.

Transparent Backgrounds

One of the best features of designing in the PNG format is that you can utilize transparent backgrounds. This means you can have the color of the fabric appear through the image.

The image on the left still has a background, while the image on the right has had the background removed.

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The following video covers:

  • How to create a new file with a transparent background (0:47)
  • How to remove the background from an existing image (2:05)
  • How to save your file as a PNG (3:25)

Here are a couple tutorials demonstrating how to remove background color:

Plus a detailed article on the Redbubble Blog:

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Using Halftones and Gradients

Halftones and gradients in t-shirt printing are made by the printers spraying down layers of ink onto the shirt. On dark shirts, the printers put down a base layer white first which sits underneath the colored layers, so the printers are effectively trying to lay down two layers over the exact same spot.

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When using gradients and halftones in your design, it's worth keeping the following in mind:

Black fading to nothing Ok
White fading to nothing Tricky
Color fading to nothing Tricky
Color fading to another color Ok

Feel free to read more on halftones here.

Raster Graphics vs. Vector Graphics

Raster graphics are made up of grid of pixels, also known as a bitmap. This would include pictures found on the Web and photos you import from your digital camera.

The more you enlarge a raster graphic, the more you stretch the pixels, resulting in a more pixelated image.

Vector graphics are made up of paths which are defined by a start and end point, along with other points, curves, and angles along the way. A path can be a line, a square, a triangle, or a curvy shape. These paths can be used to create simple drawings or complex diagrams.

Because vector images are not pixel or dot based, they can be scaled up or down in size without losing quality. Once you’re happy with the size of your vector graphic, you’ll need to rasterize and save as a PNG to upload to Redbubble.

For more information on designing (plus a list of specific blog links), check out our Advanced Design & Uploading Tips article.

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