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Blog Bolt Printing Embroidery

Best Practices

Graphic Design Images

Find Free T-Shirt Graphics

Last Updated: 09-27-2021

Finding Graphics and Creating Nice Looking T shirts

Quality t-shirt printing starts early in the design process when you are creating a t-shirt design. Here we'll look at image types, design tools, and where to find the best online artwork to create an award-winning t-shirt design. Producing a design with high impact starts with quality art files and a solid layout.  Some of the high resolution artwork downloads from providers charge a fee for images while others are free. You can search on Pixabay, Flickr, or paid sites like Vector Graphics. Or if you search the right way, you can find free images when you do a Google image search.   
 
finding free design graphic art online
 
  *PRO DESIGN TIP:  Use our Bolt Printing and Embroidery Online Design Tool
 
Our website is another resource where you can search for pictures with the best resolution for graphic t-shirt printing. Our easy-to-use online design tool gives you access to an extensive gallery of clip art for your designs. The tool makes it easy to insert clip art, add text, and/or upload art files from your computer. 
 
To use our clip art library:
  1. Click on the "Design" link at the top of the page. 
  2. Then click on the "Clip Art" tab to go through our library of free images.
  3. You can search by entering a phrase or using the drop down menu where the art is filed by category.
  4. In this example, we searched under "Mascots" and then scrolled down to "Wildcats" for a school t-shirt design.
  5. When you find a piece of art that you like, select it, and it will be added to the style that you've chosen.
 
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bolt printing clip art gallery
 
clip art tshirt example
 
Many users upload their own logos or custom graphics onto our site, especially if they have their own marketing or design department.
 
uploading art
 
artwork file upload
 

There it is! Your message, proudly custom printed on t-shirts, caps, or bags for the entire world to see. It's a powerful way to connect with the public and an extremely effective low-cost, money-saving advertising tool. Getting to this point may be harder for some because most people don't really understand how to create a great t-shirt design or where to find the best images when designing a t-shirt.

What separates a great logo or t-shirt design from all the others? Planning, preparation, and using the best graphics you can find. It takes a lot more than just doing a Google image search and downloading something you think will make a nice t-shirt design artwork.

Your imagination can run free when creating a design for digital printing. If you can dream it, someone has probably already put it on a shirt or cap. However, most images you'll find on Google, Bing, or another search engine are wrong for t-shirt printing artwork because the images are low resolution and/or in the wrong file format. Using them as part of your design will result in blurry, poor quality printing, and a shirt that fails to project your message well.

Best File Format for T-Shirt Printing

The file type of a graphic image can impact the quality of your custom printed t-shirts.

There are two file types: Vector and Raster.
VECTOR RASTER
Vector files will require specialized graphic software and experience or training to work with the graphic in the graphic program.  Most common extensions end with .eps or .ai. Raster files can be viewed and opened without any issues. Most common extensions (file type identifier) end with .jpg or .png.
A Vector image is the ideal option when you are printing text, logos, or graphic elements that are distinct from other elements (meaning they don't blend together like a rainbow). A Raster image is a solid choice if the image is a photo or has colors that blend together like a rainbow.  In most cases if the image is saved at 12" wide/150 dpi; will likely turn out well.
 
 
Check out our side by side comparison of a vector image vs a raster image below.
 
 In the example above; you can see the differences in the clarity and crispness of the text and graphic design. These differences are because of the file format.

 

Why does the format have such a profound effect? It comes down to the way the graphic image is interpreted during output.

Rasterized Images are a dot matrix data structure that represents a generally rectangular grid of pixels (points of color) creating continuous tones. This is why the edges are rounded and the colors in the smiley face are not solid.

Vector Images are defined in 2D points, which are connected by lines and curves to create shapes. Each of these points has a precise position on an x and y-axis. This is why the edges are precise.

Oftentimes, when a designer provides graphic files, they provide raster images. While it's a format that's easily opened and perfect for viewing on a website, it's not good for reproduction in a large size.  

 

*PRO TIP: When you hire a designer to create custom t-shirt graphics for you, ALWAYS request the .eps file (request the file is prepared properly: fonts converted to outlines - no placed images - if they're good they'll know what this means).  Save the .eps file in a safe place so anything you choose to print will look crisp and clean.

 

 File Formats and Why Resolution Matters

You can't create a dope t-shirt design that works with the majority of the low quality images available on the internet. Resolution is the key to having sharp, clear printed images on your custom graphic shirts. The resolution of an image is the number of pixels that make up that particular image. The best resolution for t-shirt printing and other clothing is 300 digital pixels per inch (DPI) to create a design with sharp, clear lines and colors that stand out. The higher the pixel count, the sharper your design will look.

The best file formats for printing graphics on a custom screen printed t-shirt (and work best for managing high-resolution images) are PNG and EPS vector files. T-shirt design graphics should be downloaded as a portable network graphics file (PNG) or as an Encapsulated Postscript vector file to guarantee the image produces crisp, sharp printed t-shirt designs. Both file types are good for manipulating high-resolution artwork used to create t shirt designs.

Art File Formats: PNG or EPS

PNG (Portable Network Graphics) files are highly compressed and work well for illustrations and designs with limited colors. PNG files are optimized for high quality transparent web graphics. These are a good choice for creating a logo design or simple t-shirt image with fewer colors and details.

EPS (Encapsulated Postscript) files are a good choice for handling high resolution multi-color images for digital printing. This file type works well with vector graphic programs like Adobe Illustrator (which is a great program for designing t-shirts). 

best file format

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