Software Review for Digital Printing**
What we're looking for in our design software
You can, and we have seen, T-Shirts designed in almost any program possible that people can get text or an image into. Those types of software programs are often limiting in terms of vector control, image quality, effects and export options. If you don't use a wrench as a hammer, why would you use a word processing program as an image editing program? Catch our drift? With that in mind, we definitely have an idea of what we prefer when we setup T-Shirt designs. We want to be able to easily change the size of our artboard, resolution, etc. We want to be able to control vector points for artwork and easily control text features and effects. We want to be able to do effects, level adjustments, color balance changes and raster effects. Finally, we want to be able to export the file as a *.JPG or *PNG. after we test our transparencies on different background colors.
CS5 Illustrator and Photoshop
Illustrator and Photoshop are, in our experience, the most effective tools for designing T-Shirts. Frequently, the design process here at Funny Graphic T-Shirts starts with gathering vector resources into Illustrator to create the layout and then polishing and saving the design for immediate web upload out of Photoshop.
Illustrator CS5 - Our Rating (A)
15 versions later, Adobe Illustrator CS5 is, what we consider, the best program in editing vector art, typogrography and logo design. We commonly use Illustrator to fine tune any text, shapes and layout before moving the file into Photoshop for final effects and/or saving. Switching colored backgrounds on and off often helps us see the design on different garment colors before we save and upload.
Photoshop CS5 - Our Rating (A+)
Adobe Photoshop is in its 12th major release dating back to 1990. It is a perfect program for editing raster (bitmap) images and saving optimized files as *.jpg, *.tif or *.png for upload and printing. Our preferred file format is the *.png format since it is capable of supporting transparency and is also a preferred file format of places like CafePress and Zazzle. Blending of layers using opacity and Blend Mode is common to both Illustrator and Photoshop but, in our experience, we use these functions in Photoshop as a finishing touch to give us more control over the composition.
Other T-Shirt Design Software
Don't get us wrong, there are many other programs out there for digital file prep for T-Shirt printing. Here are some of the many programs that can be used to get effective results:
Adobe InDesign CS5 - Our Rating (B-)
Microsoft Word - Our Rating (C-)
Corel Draw - Our Rating (B+)
**Ratings are based on our perception of the effectiveness of a program in creating T-Shirt graphics.