Wait…Is your T-Shirt GLOWING?!

Discharge pictureCheck out our video! We are loving these discharge inks!

Discharge inks work by extracting or bleaching out the dye from the fabric that is being printed. Some formulations replace the dye with the pigment (color) in the ink that is printed. The process seems a little magical to those who have never seen it, because discharge is a steaming process that actually takes place in the dryer. The print does not look very good when the fabric/garment is removed from the print plate, but it looks great after it’s properly cured. Additionally, discharge prints are among the most demonstrative of a complete cure. If the appearance after curing is right, the garment is most likely fully cured.

D-Flo is a Fluorescent discharge ink. Suitable fabrics that are 100% discharged producing an extremely soft-hand. D-Flo has brighter fluorescent color in black light settings than other products. D-Flo gives exceptional fluorescent color. D-Flo can be used in conjunction with other ink systems to produce multiple effects. D-Flo’s rheology and flow characteristics allow it to be printed with high mesh counts. This produces very fine image detail and a softer finish.

Artwork 101! (Don’t worry…There won’t be a test afterward!)

One of the most common misunderstandings among both clients, and unfortunately many designers, is the difference between Vector and Bitmap (also known as Raster) graphics. This short whitepaper should serve as a reference to both client and designer; an attempt to articulate, in an understandable manner, the primary differences between these two graphic types and explore the areas where usage of each is most appropriate. A graphic design background is not required for understanding this paper; technical terminology is defined; however, an elementary understanding of computers and graphics is assumed.

It is worth mentioning in advance, because it is a critical point, that when we refer to Bitmap and Vector graphics, we are not referring to any particular file format or extension. Though file formats are typically responsible for saving one type of graphic or another, the distinction between Vector and Bitmap is independent of any assigned extension. Thus, while a .jpg file is always a Bitmap graphic, a Bitmap graphic is not always a .jpg file.

Bitmap Graphics

Bitmap graphics are the most common graphic format in use on the web and, indeed, on the computer. With the exception of Flash and the still relatively unsupported .svg (scalable vector graphic) format, every single graphic seen on the web is a Bitmap.

Bitmap graphics are composed of pixels, each of which contains specific color information. A pixel is minutely small; a single image may be composed of hundreds of thousands of individual pixels. Much like cells revealed from a piece of tissue when seen under a microscope, these pixels are only clearly and individually visible when the image is magnified (fig 1).

Figure 1

A graphic composed entirely of pixels each with its own color properties is ideal for photographic images where there are thousands, even millions of different colors. Complex fills, shading and gradient effects can easily be rendered. The Bitmap image offers as much freedom as an empty canvas.

In Bitmap graphics, there is an immutable connection between pixels and the image they compose. When a Bitmap graphic is saved, the computer is really saving an exact visual picture of the image: this pixel goes here and is this color; this pixel goes there and is that color, and so on and so on.

This connection is responsible for the effects seen when resizing a bitmap graphic. Given three image sizes – an original, one smaller, and one larger – each will naturally contain a different number of pixels. Pixels do not change sizes, but the image has. It takes more pixels to fill the volume of a larger space, fewer to fit into a smaller space. (fig 2)

Figure 2

Making an existing Bitmap graphic smaller is a process of reduction; pixels are removed from the image until it fits the new size. Computers are well equipped to perform this task. An image can be sized smaller repeatedly and still maintain the same quality, up until the point where there are not enough pixels available to reproduce the image clearly.

At any given size, a Bitmap graphic contains exactly the amount of information (pixels) required to display it. No more and no less. Increasing the size of a Bitmap Graphic is akin to pouring a drink from a smaller glass to a larger one. For the drink to occupy the full volume of the larger glass, we must add additional fluid. The original concoction is diluted, the flavor weakened.

In the same way, the computer must add additional information (pixels) to the original image to allow it to fill the new larger area. Since there is no source for this information, it must be interpolated based on what is currently available in the image. Because the computer is not especially skilled at guessing games, Bitmap images that have been scaled larger are frequently blurry. After extreme size increases, individual pixels “blocks” are more apparent (as though we held a magnifying glass up to it) and the image is said to be pixilated. Slight blurriness can be combated by sharpening the image with the filters provided within many graphic programs, but an enlarged image will never be as clear as the smaller original. This blurriness also occurs for the same reason any time a Bitmap graphic is manipulated, by rotating, skewing or distorting.

Vector Graphics

If we consider Bitmap graphics as being stored in a literal fashion, then Vector Graphics, stored representatively, are their opposites.

Rather than being composed of pixels, Vector graphics consist of points, lines, and curves which, when combined, can form complex objects (fig 3). These objects can be filled with solid colors, gradients, and even patterns.

Figure 3

Vector graphics are mathematical creations. For this reason, the programs that are used to create them save instructions on how the image should be drawn, rather than how it looks. This is the key difference between the two types of graphics. Because the computer has a description of how the image should look, it can be redrawn at any size, in any position, without losing any quality. A vector graphic resized to 5 times its original dimensions is simply reproduced, exactly, at the new size. It can also be freely manipulated without losing coherence, like a rubber band that can be stretched an infinite number of ways.

The price of this scaling flexibility is that Vector images must remain relatively simple in comparison to Bitmap images. It is impossible to render the nuances of a photographic image in a vector editor; as a result, illustrative vector graphics have a distinct look and feel, even when produced in detail. (fig 4)

Figure 4

However, Vector graphics are ideal for producing artwork which frequently needs to be presented in different sizes or colors. Logos especially fall into this category. A logo produced with a vector application can be blown up to fit on a billboard or scaled down to adorn a letterhead with no loss of quality.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions for Designers

What are some common Bitmap editors and file formats?
Adobe Photoshop, Corel PhotoPaint, and Macromedia Fireworks and Paint Shop Pro are just a few of the more popular Bitmap Editors. Common bitmap file extensions include: .jpg, .gif, .png, .tff, and .bmp.

What are some common Vector editors and file formats?
Adobe Illustrator, Corel DRAW!, Macromedia Freehand, and Macromedia Flash are the predominate editors on the market. Common universal file formats include .eps and .wmf and .svg. Unlike Bitmap graphics, it is far more likely to see Vector files delivered in formats unique to the programs which created them. Some popular program specific extensions include .ai (Adobe Illustrator), .cdr (Corel Draw), and .fla/.swf (Macromedia Flash).

If a Bitmap graphic is opened with or pasted into a Vector editor, does it automatically become Vector?
Once a Bitmap graphic, always a Bitmap graphic. Although most Vector applications are able to display Bitmap images as embedded objects (and many applications even include a limited set of tools to manipulate them) their inherant format does not change. The only way to convert a Bitmap image to a Vector image is to trace the image using either a manual process or automatic program. The tracing proccess attempts to duplicate the shapes of a Bitmap image using Vector lines and curves. When Vector graphics are pasted or imported into Bitmap editors, however, the opposite is true. The editor converts the vector image to Bitmap as soon as it is brought in. Once a Vector image is converted to Bitmap, there is no way to return to the original state. For this reason, Designers keep copies of the original vector artwork when converting an image to a bitmap file format.

NDesigns accepts vector and bitmap artwork for print on t-shirts. Please refer to the below sections for guidelines how on how to submit your art for the best possible print.

For Vector Graphics

  • We accept vector graphics in the following formats: .eps, .ai, .cdr
  • Vector graphics should be in PANTONE coated spot color
  • All fonts should be converted to curves
  • No complex blends or overlay tint effects
  • Dimensions for the design should be specified with your artwork.

For Bitmap Graphics

  • We accept raster graphics in the following formats: .psd, .bmp, .gif, .jpg, .tif. A layered PSD file is preferred
  • Design must be actual print size and at least 200dpi

Remember, you will receive a proof via email for your design prior to printing.

Wraps, Banners, and Stickers… OH MY!

Our Roland XC-540 Full color digital printer is in high gear this year! From banners and signs, to stickers and magnets, this machine is putting in serious over time. Of course, we wouldn’t have it any other way! This machine can print you something as big as a billboard or something as small as a window decal. We offer designs as far as your imagination can dream…be it a quote on the wall, your initials, light covers, or a design like you see around the clock in the picture, NDesigns has you covered! (Quite Literally!) We especially love wraps! We will wrap your car, truck, boat, and even your trailer! The possibilities are endless! We use only the highest quality material and equipment so you will be 100% happy 100% of the time!

collage   Fotor061015364

GO TEAM NATALIYA!

Here at N’Designs, there’s nothing we love more than helping our neighbors and friends in need. So, when Garrett and Kaycee Valcourt came to N’Designs with their own story of helping someone in need we were ecstatic to design their t-shirts. They needed t-shirts to participate in a 5K run called The “Our Kids” run. This run and other events like this help to raise money for local and foreign adoptions. Kaycee’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ricky Brown, are currently trying to adopt a Ukrainian girl named Nataliya. Nataliya is 14 years old. Adoption is very costly, and can be quite a lengthy process, so raising money to lower not only cost for the families, but also processing time for the child(ren)’s adoption is very important.

Adoption hits close to home with Garrett, as he has been involved in several adoption cases over the years. Both Garrett and Kaycee are youth group leaders at a local church here in Fayetteville called The Rock Family Worship Center. The Rock Family Worship Center is huge into adoption, as they have hundreds of church members that have adopted children from places like China, Indonesia and India just to mention a few. So, we knew this t-shirt had to be special. On the front we decided to use the phrase “Team Nataliya” both in English and Ukrainian translation. For the back we played on the 5K theme using the two country outlines as start and finish points.

On Saturday, May 25th Kaycee and Garrett, along with many other people, laced up their running shoes and took off. The race was a great success, and Garrett finished 3rd place! Autumn Wright also took a first place finish for her age group. We are so glad this family chose N’Designs for their t-shirt printing needs, and we will continue to be fans of Team Nataliya!

team nataliya collage

Embroider THIS!

Since the beginning of NDesigns, embroidery has been on our repertoire, but has been a shining star lately! The increase in our embroidery business has been substantial! We just finished a 415 piece order for Land Rover of Nashville, TN. Our embroiderer, Krystal, has her hands FULL!

The difference between screen printing and embroidery may seem like common knowledge to people in the industry, but some of you may not know the difference. I will break it down a little bit for you that don’t know the in’s and out’s. Screen printing is a process that uses ink. Some of the most common items that are screen printed are t-shirts, team uniforms, tote bags and towels. The list really could go on forever and examples of screen printing are everywhere. The process is called screen printing because a mesh screen is used for each color in a design in which ink is pushed through onto your t-shirt, making the finished product when they’re all put together.

Embroidery is a process where thread is stitched into your product. Some of the  popular items that embroidery is used for are: polo shirts, jackets, and hats. With embroidery you can create a more professional look which lasts longer than the inks used in screen printing. Our Embroidery machine has multiple heads that allow her to do 8 pieces at a time! So, whether it be screen printing, or embroidery that fit your needs best we’ve got you covered at NDesigns!

embroider

 

Our company is only as good as our people! Introducing, Sam.

Meet Sam Cook our newest Graphic Artist at NDesigns! We all have a story to tell and Sam’s is VERY interesting – Sam was born deaf, at the age of 5, Sam, received a very old fashion hearing aid, but this only allowed crackly, distorted sounds. At the age of 9, Sam underwent Cochlear Implant surgery and for the first time was given the opportunity to discover clearer more defined sounds! Sam’s first language is Sign Language, though he prefers to have face to face conversations so he can read your lips and facial expressions, than say phone conversations! He attended public school with an interpreter til 7th grade then stopped to see if he could do it on his own – with only receiving 6-8% what you and I hear, he still managed to be enrolled in Honor Classes! He graduated high school and went to Jacksonville State University where he received his degree in Graphic Arts. College is where he met for the first time other “Real” deaf people and learned what he missed out in high school studies! He received an award for Excellence in Washington, DC and USA Arts chose his work for an Exhibition for 4 years!

Fun fact Sam shared with us is deaf people have fewer car accidents than those of us that can hear; due to fact their eyesight is much better than ours.

Welcome Aboard Sam!

sam

 

This story can be found on our Facebook page, along with many others! If you don’t already “Like” NDesigns head on over to Facebook.com and search for NDesigns Screen printing!