When designing your own t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and other garments, artwork should always be submitted in vector format. Different from a JPEG or GIF, vector graphics (.AI, EPS) are made of paths instead of pixels. Paths are mathematically-defined geometric shapes. They can be lines, squares, triangles, curves – anything that can be defined by a start and an end point. Since vector graphics are not made from pixels, they can never become distorted, making vector the preferred image file for screen printing.
To fully understand vector graphics and how they work takes time and patience. To start, we thought we would answer five common questions about vector graphics and how they function.
- Why don’t vector graphics become distorted? As mentioned above, the good thing about vector graphics is that they can never become distorted. To fully understand why, you have to understand the difference between pixels and paths. Typical photos and images are created by a grid of pixels, or a specific number of dots. When you size a graphic made of pixels, each one becomes stretched, ultimately distorting the image. Because vector files are made from mathematically-defined geometric shapes, scaling their size only requires a modification of their mathematical locations. A vector graphic can be made as large or small as you want, without becoming distorted.
- Once my graphic is in vector format, can it be adjusted? Graphics that are in vector format can be simplified, and the colors can be changed. Vector art is a series of lines and points, which means that you are able to manipulate individual sections of the graphic without affecting the rest of the graphic. Saving your artwork into vector format does not mean that the artwork cannot be changed. It simply means that not only can your image be sized without