Switching your print on demand supplier? Get in touch with us here

1. Significance of customized t-shirts:

How to put a picture on a shirt: Simple steps for perfect prints

For artists and entrepreneurs, the canvas isn't just restricted to paper or digital screens; it extends to the world of apparel. The allure of custom t-shirts is undeniable, offering a wearable piece of art that tells a story, expresses an identity, or conveys a message. However, the journey from a digital design to a perfectly printed t-shirt can be riddled with complexities. 

That's where this guide comes into play to demystify the process of putting a picture on a shirt. From understanding image formats and resolutions to mastering the nuances of print on demand, you'll gain the insights needed to provide your clientele with top-tier, customized photo shirts. 

So, whether you're an artist hoping to bring your creations to life or an entrepreneur aiming to carve a niche in the custom apparel market, let's embark on this journey to perfect prints together.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Customized t-shirts act as a medium of expression, showcasing creative designs and individual narratives. They serve as organic brand promoters and stand out in a world valuing uniqueness.

  • Various printing technologies, like Screen printing, Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing, Heat transfer printing, Dye sublimation printing, and Heat transfer vinyl cutting, offer diverse finishes and suit different design needs.

  • Choosing the right format, resolution, and ensuring copyright compliance are critical for optimal printing quality. Editing tools like Adobe Photoshop can further enhance image suitability.

  • Factors like fabric composition, shirt color, print area, and durability play a pivotal role in the final outcome. Gelato's catalog offers a variety of shirts like BELLA AND CANVAS 3001 and GILDAN 5000.

  • Gelato simplifies the printing process with its user-friendly platform, ensuring top-notch quality, worldwide deliveries, hassle-free production, and no inventory management.

Significance of customized t-shirts

Customized t-shirts are more than just apparel; they're a powerful medium of expression. For artists and entrepreneurs, they offer a unique platform to showcase creative designs and individual narratives. These personalized garments foster a deeper connection with the wearer, transforming a simple piece of fabric into a statement of identity, affiliation, or artistry. 

For businesses, they act as moving billboards, promoting a brand or cause in the most organic way. Moreover, in a world that values uniqueness, customized t-shirts stand out, allowing individuals and brands alike to differentiate themselves in a sea of mass-produced clothing.

Printing methods used for custom t-shirts

The custom t-shirt industry has witnessed rapid innovations over the past few decades, especially in the realm of printing technologies. Different methods offer unique finishes, durability, and suitability for various design complexities. Let’s dive into the most prominent t-shirt printing methods that have garnered popularity among designers and businesses alike.

1. Screen printing (silk screening)

Screen printing is one of the most traditional methods used for t-shirt printing. This method involves pushing ink through a woven mesh stencil onto the fabric. 

  • Screen print offers vibrant color results.

  • Highly durable, especially for larger batch orders.

  • Cost-effective for bulk orders.

  • Not suitable for highly detailed designs.

  • Setting up multiple colors can be time-consuming and expensive.

2. Direct-to-garment (DTG) printing

DTG is a newer, superior method that works similar to an inkjet printer. The shirt is placed on a flat surface, and the design is printed directly onto it without using printer paper or iron-on transfers. 

  • Unlike screen printing, the transferred image offers great details for multi-colored designs.

  • Allows for on-demand printing with minimal setup.

  • Production may take longer compared to screen printing

  • Due to its high-quality prints, the cost can be on the higher side

3. Heat transfer printing

This method involves printing a design onto a light transfer paper and then using a heat press to transfer the design from the paper to the t-shirt. The excess transfer paper is cut out after transferring the design. Instead of the inkjet or laser transfer paper, plastic wrap may also be used. 

  • Versatile and allows for complex color and design applications using a special heat transfer paper or parchment paper.

  • Ideal for small orders or one-offs.

  • Can feel like a patch on the t-shirt.

  • Not as durable; design may fade after several washes.

4. Dye sublimation printing

Best suited for polyester t-shirts, dye sublimation turns water-based dye ink into a gas that permeates polyester fibers, dyeing them.

  • Produces vibrant and sharp results.

  • The design won’t peel off or fade easily.

  • Only works effectively on polyester or polymer-coated items.

  • Not cost-effective for large production runs.

5. Heat transfer vinyl cutting

In this method, a machine cuts out designs on colored vinyl. These are then heat-pressed onto the t-shirts.

  • Offers a unique, crisp finish.

  • Durable and doesn’t fade easily.

  • Not suitable for designs with multiple colors.

  • Feels different compared to traditional printed shirts.

Understanding the nuances of each printing method empowers designers and businesses to select the best technique aligned with their design needs and order volume. While all methods have their distinct advantages, it's essential to choose one that resonates with your brand's ethos and the desired final product quality.

Step-by-step guide for perfect prints

Dive into our comprehensive step-by-step guide, designed to ensure that your journey from digital design to a flawlessly printed t-shirt is seamless. Elevate your custom apparel game with these curated tips for impeccable prints.

1. Selecting the perfect image

Your t-shirt's print quality begins with the source: the image. A meticulous selection and preparation of your image ensures a print that resonates both in clarity and impact.

Choosing the right image format
  • JPEG: Best for photographs or images with gradients due to its ability to handle complex colors. However, it might lose some quality with each save.

  • PNG: Ideal for designs with transparent backgrounds or fewer colors. It preserves image quality regardless of how many times it's saved or compressed.

Optimal image resolution

DPI, or dots per inch, determines the clarity of your printed design. A higher DPI means more detail, ensuring your image doesn't appear pixelated or blurry. For t-shirt printing, aim for a DPI of 300 or higher.

Editing and enhancing the image

Before finalizing, consider using graphic software like Adobe Photoshop or GIMP to tweak the colors, brightness, contrast, or even add artistic effects. Enhancements can make your image more suited for fabric printing and ensure it stands out.

Ensuring copyright compliance

It's imperative to respect intellectual property. Use images you have rights to or have acquired permission for. If sourcing from platforms, ensure they're royalty-free or purchased under the right license. Infringement not only damages reputation but can lead to legal repercussions.

2. Choosing the right shirt for your image

Selecting the ideal shirt is crucial to showcase your design effectively. A good match between the shirt and the image can enhance the appeal, while a mismatch can detract from the design's brilliance.

Factors to consider
  • Fabric composition: Your choice of fabric can influence the final print's texture and appearance. Cotton, known for its breathability, holds vibrant prints exceptionally well, while blends might offer stretchability or a unique sheen.

  • Shirt color: The shirt's hue can make or break your design. For instance, a light design might be more prominent on dark-colored shirts, and a dark design on light colored shirts. Ensure that the shirt color complements your design and enhances its visual appeal.

  • Print area: Each shirt has a designated print area. Select a shirt that can comfortably accommodate your design, ensuring it doesn't look squeezed or off-centered.

  • Durability: It’s essential to choose shirts that retain their shape and color after numerous washes, ensuring your design's longevity.

Choose from Gelato’s catalog
  • BELLA AND CANVAS 3001: Its ultra-soft fabric and snug fit make it a crowd favorite. With various sizes and hues, this shirt provides more versatility for different designs.

  • BELLA AND CANVAS 3005: Known for its lightweight comfort and premium feel. The fresh colors of these light shirts offer artists and entrepreneurs more avenues to match their creative visions.

  • GILDAN 5000: Its robustness and reliability make it a top choice. The fabric holds prints beautifully, ensuring a sharp and vibrant design representation.

  • GILDAN 64000: Apart from its durability, what distinguishes this shirt is its comfortable fit, giving designs a sleek display. With new offerings, there's more to love about this staple.

  • GILDAN 2000: A fusion of comfort and resilience, this shirt promises a delightful wearing experience while making sure designs stay intact and impressive.

  • NEXT LEVEL 6710: This shirt brings a unique blend of softness and stretch, ensuring a flattering fit. Its distinct fabric composition can elevate certain designs to new heights.

  • BELLA AND CANVAS 6400: As a fresh entrant, it stands out for its contemporary fit and wide range of color options, allowing a broader scope for design experimentation.

3. Gelato's print on demand platform: Simplifying the printing process

At its core, Gelato is a user-friendly platform designed with artists and entrepreneurs in mind. To get started, create an account, explore the intuitive dashboard, and familiarize yourself with the array of features geared towards hassle-free printing.

Why choose Gelato

Gelato isn't just another printing platform; it's an ecosystem built for success. Here’s why it stands out:

  • Quality assurance: Gelato prioritizes print quality, ensuring that every design—whether intricate or simple—translates perfectly onto fabric, preserving its vibrancy and detail.

  • Prompt local deliveries worldwide: Through a vast network of printing partners across the globe, Gelato ensures that your custom shirts reach your customers swiftly, irrespective of their location.

  • Hassle-free production: Say goodbye to logistical nightmares. Gelato's automated system takes care of the production process from start to finish, leaving you free to focus on design and business growth.

  • No inventory management: With a print-on-demand model, there's no need for bulky inventory or storage worries. Gelato prints as orders come in, ensuring efficiency and reducing overhead costs.

How to upload and position the image on Gelato

Creating a masterpiece requires precision, and with Gelato, you have all the tools at your fingertips to transform your design vision into reality. Here's a simple guide to uploading and positioning your image seamlessly:

  1. Login to your Gelato account: Start by accessing your account. If you don’t have one yet, sign up—it's quick and easy!

  2. Navigate to the 'products' section: This is where the magic begins. From here, you'll have access to a variety of apparel options.

  3. Select the type of t-shirt: Gelato offers various styles, each catering to different tastes and design needs. Pick one that aligns with your vision.

  4. Choose a color: The shirt’s color can either accentuate or undermine your design. Opt for colors like light blue for serene designs, military green for earthy feels, charcoal for a modern touch, or classics like black and navy for universal appeal.

  5. Select the size: Cater to all by offering a range of sizes. From S to 3XL, ensure everyone can enjoy your design in a fit they're comfortable with.

  6. Design placement options: The positioning of your design can drastically change the shirt's overall look. Whether you prefer the traditional front, the subtle inner neck, or the trendy sleeve placements, Gelato provides you with all these options.

  7. Choose a layout for your design: Depending on your design's nature, select a layout. Your chosen layout should complement the design's elements and the shirt's structure.

  8. Add layers: Introduce depth to your design by adding layers. This feature allows you to stack images or graphics, creating a multidimensional visual appeal.

  9. Add text: Words can amplify your design's message. Use Gelato's text tool to insert slogans, brand names, or any other relevant text. Adjust the font style, size, and color to harmonize with your design.

  10. Leverage shutterstock images: If you're in need of high-quality images to enhance your design, Gelato's integration with Shutterstock offers a vast collection. Just ensure you respect copyright terms.

  11. Use Gelato's premade graphics: For those moments when you're looking for added flair, or if you’re facing creative block, dive into Gelato's library of premade graphics. These can be incorporated into your design or used as standalone elements.

You can drag, resize, or rotate the image to fit the shirt's print area optimally. Real-time previews help visualize the final look.

Once satisfied, save your design template and add to order.

Delivery and fulfillment
  • Prompt production: Leveraging its vast network of printing partners, Gelato ensures swift production times for products, like t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, photo books, wall art, etc., reducing the waiting period for you and your customers.

  • Local deliveries worldwide: By partnering with local printing facilities across the globe, Gelato ensures that t-shirts are printed closest to the delivery destination. This not only ensures faster deliveries but also reduces carbon footprints.

  • Tracking and updates: Once an order is shipped, Gelato provides tracking details, allowing both the business owner and the customer to monitor the shipment's progress.

  • Customer satisfaction: With its emphasis on quality and speed, Gelato's fulfillment process is designed to enhance customer satisfaction, encouraging repeat purchases and positive reviews.

With Gelato, the journey from design conception to a printed t-shirt becomes a breeze, ensuring that artists and entrepreneurs can focus on what they do best: create, marketing, and selling


Next steps

Start selling products with Gelato