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Many questions are raised during the beginning stages of a design project, and the choice between Raster and Vector is one of the most important. The answer lies in your final plans for the design and the artwork, but we find it’s best to start by understanding the difference between the two file formats.


Vector images

Vector images are made up of basic geometric shapes such as points, curves, and lines. A mathematical equation is used to determine the relationship of the shapes and allows you to scale the shape up or down in size without losing quality. Vectors are great for logos, illustrations, and other designs without gradients or photographic images. Vectors also have the advantage of a much smaller file size, making them easier and faster to work on.

If the image is increased in size, the equation is recalculated resulting in a larger design with no loss of data or detail. As a result, resolution (the quality of the image at different sizes) is not an issue with vector graphics.

Popular vector drawing software Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw or Inkscape can all create vector designs suitable for screen printing.

Vector Graphics

Clean vector graphics are the key to crisp and detailed prints.

Raster images

Raster images are made up of a grid of pixels, where each pixel is assigned its own individual colour value. Typically the number of pixels in an image is in the millions. When a raster image is enlarged, the grid of pixels is stretched. This can cause all sort of quality loss, including jagged edges around text and other shapes.

The term ‘dpi’ refers to ‘dots per inch’. Raster images intended for print are usually from 300-600pi, whereas low quality web images are optimized to 72dpi. Raster images must be created in the size the image is intended to be used. Any stretching at all causes massive quality loss.


Editing software like Adobe Photoshop, and GIMP are the most popular for altering and creating raster images.

Popular raster file include: .JPG/.JPEG, .PSD, .PNG, .TIFF, .BMP, and .GIF.

Most designs are suitable for vector format, and vector designs are the easiest way to ensure crisp print.


To learn more about our preferred file types for your custom t-shirt / apparel order, visit our Art & Design Guidelines resource.

Ever wondered what all those symbols mean? We’ve compiled 90+ care icons and their descriptions to help make sense of everything. Downloading this guide in .PDF format below will let you select and copy vector versions of each symbol for use in your Custom Care Labels.



Want to add Custom Care Labels to your custom t-shirt / apparel order? View full pricing information on our Finishing Services page or dive right in and Get a Quote.

Custom Care Labels

What makes the perfect shirt? When picking a garment for your custom t-shirt order, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the choices. We believe that a basic understanding of the differences between cotton fabrics is the best starting point.

First, let’s look at some different types of cottons. Most promotional t-shirts are described simply as ‘100% cotton’. These types of garments are usually made from a less refined open-ended cotton, and offer good value at a lower price point.

‘Ringspun Cotton’ indicates a spinning process that softens and straightens each fibre. Further, the cotton can be ‘combed’. Fine brushes are used to eliminate short strands and straighten fibres. Both processes help make the fabric stronger, softer, and smoother.

When dealing with cotton shirts, the weight of the garment can give a strong sense of the feel of the garment. Fabric weights are expressed in ounces or grams per square metre, and a higher weight will mean a thicker fabric. Many garments aimed at the retail market are being made from lighter, thinner and more form-fitting cottons. While heavier cottons are often associated with a higher strength fabric, it does not necessarily indicate a better quality garment.

A quality cotton will breathe, fit, drape, and feel fantastic, but a polyester blend can provide a nice balance between the benefits of a natural fibre, and the benefits of a synthetic fibre.


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Polyester is a strong and flexible material that, when combined with cotton, can make for a more durable and affordable t-shirt. A polyester-cotton blend is typically more resistant to static, less prone to pilling, and will keep its shape and colour longer. Polyester blends offer more shrink resistance than a 100% cotton variant, as well.

Finally, the weave of the fabric will also effect the fit and feel. 18-single, 30-single and 40-single yarns are all common. More cotton threads per yarn will create a tighter weave and smoother printing surface.

Keeping these key points in mind will help eliminate surprises when choosing a garment for your custom order.

A quick look at our Fabric Swatches section will give you a chance to view samples of various cotton types, blends, and colours from our favourite manufacturers.

If you have any questions about our custom t-shirt printing, garment selections, or the screen printing process, you can contact us directly right here.