More information on preparing artwork for screen printing:
Recommended Print Area
At Blackwater Studios we see a lot of artwork come through our workshop. This means we’ve got a good feel for common print sizes and positioning. Check out our rough recommendations below.
A lot of people ask us for ‘the biggest’ print possible. However, we often find people reconsider or reduce it for future runs. This is usually once they see how this print size looks when worn. This is because elements or text can become difficult to read visually. Particularly if they wrap around the body, towards the armpits.
Below are our general recommendations for print area.
If you only want to know the limits, you can skip this section.
Across Chest / Back
Generally we recommend chest prints fill the width between the nipples. This stops the print wrapping around the body / into the armpits. It is also suitable for ladies sizes.
Recommend*: 27cm x 35cm
Typical Max**: 34cm x 53cm
For short sleeves, something similar or slightly smaller than a breast pocket works well. For long sleeves, the maximum print area is the area we recommend filling.
Short Sleeve Recommend*: 9cm x 7cm
Long Sleeve Max: 10cm x 41cm
Breast / Pocket
Typically used for logos, this should be big enough to read, but not so large that it appears misplaced. Simple bold logos may still work well much at smaller sizes.
Recommend*: 9cm x 9cm
Typically placed on wearer’s left.
A discreet size usually works best, as it reduces the chance of any ink showing through the back. We have a dedicated page for information on inside neck printing.
Recommend*: 7cm x 7cm
Typical Max: 9cm x 10cm
*Approximate recommended print area, dependent on other limitations (see below).
**Typical max print size for chest of a unisex small t shirt.
Measurements for positioning are taken from the bottom of the neck hem. Our typical distances for adult crew neck t shirts are:
- Chest Print: 5cm
- Breast Pocket or Straplines: 7.5cm
- Full Size Chest: 2.5cm
- Back Print: 7.5cm
- Nape Print: 2.5cm
Size /shape usually determine positioning.
We always try to make sure specific measurements for positioning are met, however these distance are only treated as guidance, not requirements. We allow for a discrepancy of up to 2cm from the target distance – we do not consider variations less than this to be misprints.
Please read our page that covers Positioning Tolerance for more info.
Maximum Screen Print Area
Our screen sizes represent the largest possible screen print areas we can offer, before the other more limiting factors are introduced (such as the printable area of the garment – see below).
The maximum printable areas of the screens we offer are:
- Standard Screens: 40cm x 54cm
- Inside Neck: 11cm x 10cm
- Short Sleeve: 12cm x 15cm
- Long Sleeve: 7cm x 41cm
However, generally the limiting factor is the print area of the garment.
This is an important factor to consider when ordering large prints and you have smaller garments in your order, as it’ll be limited by the smallest item. A 34cm wide print for mens t shirts will not fit on a 3-4 kids t shirt – the design simply will not fit, it would be wider than the t shirt.
You can find approximate printable areas by garment size below.
Print Area of the Garment
Below are approximate maximum print areas for t shirt chests. No two items will be sewn the same, and this will vary even more from product to product. It’s also worth noting that printing designs at the max width are likely to wrap around the front of the body, and will not be easy to read. Depending on the design, we generally suggest a print width of about 27cm (see our recommendations above).
- Small – 34cm x 53cm
- Medium – 37cm x 55cm
- Large – 39cm x 58cm
- XL – 42cm x 60cm
- XXL – 48cm x 67cm
- Small – 27cm x 43cm
- Medium – 30cm x 51cm
- Large – 31cm x 53cm
- XL – 32cm x 55cm
- 3-4 (XS) – 27cm x 28cm
- 5-6 (Kids S) – 27cm x 33cm
- 7-8 (Kids M) – 33cm x 36cm
- 9-11 (Kids L) – 36cm x 46cm
Please remember these dimensions are approximate and should be treated as ‘safe’ zones, to ensure your design does not go too close to any seams that may cause misprints. These are loosely based on Gildan Softstyle products, which tend to be a tighter fit. We will have to check and measure unfamiliar products to ensure a suitable print size.
Remember, if you are having a mix of adult and childrens sizes, the print area will be limited by the smallest garment.
Adding a Hem Print
Sometimes with a chest print you may want to have an additional design element just above the bottom hem – such as a logo signature, sponsor, etc. As you’d expect not all garment sizes are the same, which means the positioning of art may need to change. With this scenario, you have two options:
Option 1: Shared Screen
The more cost effective option. Everything is on the same screen setup (or set of screens, if the chest is a multi colour design). The chest design will be anchored to a set distance from the neck, however the ‘hem art’ will gradually move further away from the hem as the garment size increases.
1. Hem design on same screen as chest (everything anchored to neck)
Option 2: Separate Screens
The alternative is to treat the hem design as a separate setup entirely, which is anchored from the bottom hem instead. This increases the cost (due to the additional setup / print run), but allows both design elements to be anchored and always be consistent.
2. Two separate screens (anchored separately to both neck and hem)