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Turn a Poor-Quality Image Into Gold

Image Re-Creation for Screen Printing – Your customer gives you a good-looking design to print on 150 t-shirts. After they leave, you take a closer look at the image and find that it is a simple .jpg file that becomes distorted when you increase the size. Now what do you do?

You will need to re-create the image. The goal is a crisp design that does not lose quality when it is re-sized, and not too complex for color separation into the fewest colors possible.

Sounds easy, but is it? Let’s walk through the process and discuss the most challenging aspects of the job and ways to conquer them.

Vectorization in Image Re-Creation for Screen Printing

Let’s talk about pixels and vector graphics. Pixels are best demonstrated by an image displayed in old-school Microsoft Paint. The smaller images don’t look bad, but look at how shaggy the “4” gets as it is enlarged:

Pixelated samples 1

If you zoom in all the way you can see the little squares that make up the shapes that you thought were round:

Pixelated samples 2

Turning on the “gridlines” function in Paint tells the whole story, as you can see in the image above. This image is not screen-print ready!

Let’s compare the pixelated squares to the super-smooth points, lines, and curves that make up a vector graphic.

To convert a bitmap (pixelated) image to a vector graphic, you will need to use Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop, for the best results. There are a few open-source, free applications available on the internet that have similar functions, but we recommend you stick with Adobe.

If you have never used Adobe’s creative products, you will have a much easier job if you go through online tutorials or take a class at the local community college. It isn’t rocket science, but it is complex.

Color Separation

As an experienced screen-printer, you know that color separation is the thing that makes or breaks a design. You must be able to reproduce the image on apparel without losing your mind – and your money. The fewer colors you use, the faster you can work – and the less you spend on ink.

CMYK Shimmer

You probably understand the 4-color separation process known as CMYK (for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black). It is one thing to understand it, and another thing to know how to create separations using Adobe tools. This is another area where you may want to find tutorials or take a class.

Halftone Simulation

The real fun begins when you encounter color blends, or “halftones”. To create graphics with various tints and shades – and blend them so they look like a solid color, dots are used.

Dots look much better than squares. As part of the mathematical formula behind vector graphics, they perform beautifully to make infinitely scalable graphics.

abstract halftone pattern banners different colors 1017 17772
Background vector created by starline – www.freepik.com
Shading and texture are added by mixing dots of various sizes and colors. In this way, you can get a lot of WOW out of a handful of colors.

You May Like: Vectorizing for Screen Printing in 2021

Sorry to say, this simulation is best accomplished using Adobe software. If you want to do your own color separations and simulations, get educated!

The Four Greatest Challenges in Design Re-Creation

5 THU for Blog Recreation Challenges

CMYK Color Separation

Minimize the number of colors you must use when you print the design to maximize your business potential. Eight is ok, 4 is better!

Halftone Simulation

Use dots to fool the eye into perceiving subtle shading and texture. Amaze your math-hating friends when you tell them this is math – not art!


Use points, lines, and curves – and not little squares – to create images that come to life. When you create a vector graphic, it can literally be adapted to almost any use – just scale it up or down.

Software used in Image Re-Creation for Screen Printing

Learn Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop thoroughly – don’t cut corners on the educational tools. If you want to devote time away from printing to design re-creation, we applaud you!

If you are rethinking the concept of doing your own re-creation work after seeing the processes involved, consider outsourcing these jobs to artists who solve design problems every day. At SpeedySep, we have an in-house art department so you don’t have to!

Call us today to find out how affordable it is to rely on our experienced and dedicated designers.

Try SpeedySep Now

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Speedy Sep helps screen printers and apparel brands with unique t-shirt designs; provide print-ready color separations; and convert your artwork to vector format … all in record time.

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We help with custom t-shirt design, color separations, and converting your artwork to vector format.

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