Art of Where

DTG Print Guidelines

What is DTG printing?

Full-color prints on t-shirts are done using a direct-to-garment (DTG) printer. This 3 step process ensures a consistent and vibrant print on any color shirt. To print DTG, t-shirts are mounted on a platen and placed in the printer bed for pretreatment. After pre-treatment, for dark shirts, the printer lays down a layer of white underneath where your image will print. This white underbase is flash dried and then we print your design in full color on top. The print is heat set to endure wash and repeated wear.

DTG Printer
DTG Printer

And what’s one of the truly amazing benefits of DTG printing? There are no set-up fees! We can print 1 shirt at a time and never charge you to set up screens or artwork. It’s the most accessible way to make a custom garment that you or your fans will love to wear.

No setup fees banner image

Limitations of DTG printing

While DTG is an amazing and fairly reliable way to transfer your art to t-shirts, we cannot guarantee color matching 100%. There are multiple factors that contribute to how the final print will look on your chosen t-shirt color.

From your computer screen to fabric

What you see on your computer screen is not necessarily the same as what will print. Your computer screen creates all the colors you see from red, blue and green pixels, little squares of colored light. When something is printed, the colors that combine to create all the colors in the print are cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK). This difference means that what you see on screen and what is printed will never be exactly the same, however, we can get very, very close.

  • Specifically for t-shirt printing, we advise that you design in CMYK, then convert to RGB to upload to our Design Lab. When the design is printed with CMYK inks, it will be closer to your original image.
  • The color of the shirt also plays a part. If you order a white t-shirt and a light grey t-shirt, the colors will be a bit brighter on the white. For darker colored t-shirts, we will print with a white underbase so that your art pops as much as possible. Print results will look different between a white, black, and red shirt.
  • Your design should include solid colors, as designs with lower opacity or partially transparent areas don’t always come out well with this printing method. Keep in mind that any transparent areas in your design will end up showing the color of the shirt. So on a red shirt, transparent areas in the image will end up red and the same design on a black shirt would show black through.
DTG printing result on different fabric colors
DTG printing result on different fabric colors

Printing Black & White

  • We don’t print white onto white t-shirts. If white is included in your design, and you order a white shirt, nothing will print in the white areas. Go for color!
  • If black is included in your design, and you order a black t-shirt, the black print may look grey as the ink was laid over the white underbase. It’s best to leave the black areas of your design transparent, so the black portions are the color of the t-shirt instead.

Check out our blog that walks you through creating transparency in your images using photoshop.

Black cat on black t-shirt
Black cat on black t-shirt, closeup
White skull on blue t-shirt

Print Placement

We will also do our absolute best to have your print placed on the shirt the way you placed it in the Design Lab, however, slight placement variations may occur.


DTG printing is meant for complicated multi-color images, images with gradients, and details. It’s not the best option for large solid blocks of 1 color. Since some shirt fibers can punch through solid ink areas, it can dull down the color results. If you’d like to print big solid text on a shirt, we recommend using our vinyl prints instead! Find this option in our t-shirt Design Lab.

Vinyl tends to be a better option for printing big text. A vinyl print is very solid and contrasts well whereas the DTG ink provides less coverage and less vibrancy.

Vinyl letter print
DTG letter print

Print size

Our print area is 12” wide by 16” tall. However, we may scale down the print a bit to fit well (and look right) on smaller size shirts, like a small women's favorite tee. We’ll make sure to keep the print proportional when scaling.

DTG print on black and white shirts

The print on your shirt may vary from the mockup image. Print placements can vary from order-to-order, or within an order. DTG and Vinyl prints may show minor acceptable flaws related to the nature of the printing method (ex. Fibers showing through the print). By ordering from us, you agree to accept these characteristics of t-shirt printing.

File Types

We accept 2 file types for DTG printing; PNG and JPEG. Of the 2, only PNG supports transparency. If you submit a JPEG with a white or another background color, guaranteed we will print the solid background and you will have a box around your text.

DTG print of an image without transparency
DTG print of an image with transparency

All files prepared for DTG should be submitted at a minimum of 150 dpi.

Need more help with files? Refer to our help section.

Here we show you print file examples and results:


Black cat image without transparency


Black cat DTG print on black shirt without transparency


Black cat image with transparency


Black cat DTG print on black shirt with transparency


Astronaut picture with transparency


DTG print of astronaut picture on multiple shirts