Home  /  News  /  Industry News

Top 10 Artistic Tips for DTF Transfers

Jun. 11, 2022

Everyone is talking about direct-to-film (DTF) transfers. This innovative method of garment decoration is changing the way people think about heat transfer printing. DTF transfers have many benefits, including:

● Low-temperature heating applications

● Lightweight, soft hand after transfer printing

● The ability to print unlimited colors

● No outlines

● Very fine detail, including floating text

● Can be applied anywhere on the garment


Whether you print your own DTF transfers or use a service to print them for you, there are a few things you need to know, especially when preparing your artwork. As with any type of garment printing, it starts with the right artwork.

Top 10 Artistic Tips for DTF Transfers


What you need to know

Here are the top 10 tips you need to know when preparing artwork for DTF transfer.


1. Design your artwork with "presentation" in mind.

This means that your artwork should let the garment colors show through, thus creating an overall softer final print. However, by incorporating openings throughout the design, less ink and adhesive is applied to the garment, resulting in a lighter design. When the image is large and solid, the garment has a thicker feel.


2. With the expectation of realistic color reproduction.

Color varies from monitor to monitor and from printer to printer. We recommend that you design with the RGB setting because it offers a larger color gamut, but keep in mind that DTF printers will use CMYK. Some DTF service companies offer their own color palettes. Think of it like going to a print store and choosing a color. This allows you to provide the customer with a physical sample of the color to choose from and expect the same results during the printing period.


3. Size is not an issue.

With DTF transfers, you have the freedom to choose the size of artwork that fits any type of garment, teen or adult. You don't have to commit to printing only one size or only one location. Print what you need, when you need it, in any size you need, in the quantity you need.


4. Use patterns, fills and gradient gradients.

Your artwork can take full advantage of DTF's unlimited digital color capabilities. This will also help distinguish your results from those that can be achieved with "vinyl" or "spot color plastisol inks". In addition, when creating artwork for DTF transfers, you can use photos and drawn full-color raster illustrations using multiple colors.


5. Say "yes" to fine lines.

DTF Transfer allows you to use small floating fonts and thin lines in your artwork. Clement explains why this is a game changer. Unlike other processes that require thicker lines to hold information, DTF allows thinner lines. the minimum thickness required for DTF artwork is 0.018 inches, which means you can even use small floating fonts for shirt labels. Here's another one of our tips: "You can check the size of your artwork by creating a small circle (0.018) and moving it around your design. Move it to the thinnest part of the design; if your line is larger than this circle, that's great. If it's smaller, then make it bigger to fit."


6. Pay attention to "soft edges" versus "hard edges".

 Images with soft edges do not reproduce well because the dots/ink drops that produce the image do not adhere to the shirt. When there is not enough adhesive surface, you lose the edge of the design. This results in rough, blotchy edges. Images with hard, defined edges do not experience this problem.


7. Vector or raster?

You can use both! Vector artwork consists of lines and shapes created from points or nodes, outlines or paths. This type of artwork can be scaled up infinitely without loss of quality. Raster artwork consists of a series of small dots called pixels that create images of different tones, such as photographs. This type of artwork is limited in how much it can be enlarged, as it degrades quality and can become blurred and/or pixelated. Since DTF is capable of full color printing at very high resolution, either type can be used whether the design is a monochrome or full color photo or illustration.


8. Use any design software.

Adobe Photoshop and Corel PHOTO-PAINT are common raster image editing programs. However, there are many other programs on the market, such as Serif Affinity Designer (vector) and Affinity Photo (raster), as long as you can save the correct file format to send to your printer. EasyView Designer from Transfer Express is also a great option for purchasing your own software.


9. Use photography.

With DTF's full-color printing capabilities, you can print any type of image, even photos. This is a great way to create custom, personalized layouts for your customers. Since photos are raster images, you need to make sure they have the proper resolution for the best print quality. Low resolution images are typically 72 DPI and are used for purposes such as web design. When creating raster images for DTF, please use a higher resolution. We recommend using 300 DPI and setting the artwork to the actual size. Remember, if you plan to use the image for multiple locations at different sizes, create the initial layout at the largest size. You can then reduce it for smaller applications. The higher the resolution, the clearer and sharper the image will be.


10. Consider using variable data.

Since DTF is a completely digital product, you can use variable data printing to create personalized transfers in a single run. Find out if your DTF service provider offers a variable data option. This is the ideal solution for adding a personal name or number.


In summary, there are many variables that affect the success of making a good DTF transfer, including managing your RIP software, color management, controlling print climate, ink, adhesive and film compatibility, and more. Creating proper, printable artwork is just the tip of the iceberg, but these tips demonstrate the great flexibility in artwork design that can only be achieved through DTF transfers.