Many people ask me what type of software I use for creating artwork for screen printing tee shirts. I am not a graphic arts expert by any means and I don’t even know enough to teach anyone how to really go about it but what I can tell you is what you would want for screen printing. The first thing to know about artwork for screen printing is that most often it is in vector format. This is because vector format will allow the printer to manipulate the art without any loss of detail in any respect. It also allows easy modification of parts of the image. Therefore we look for vector art or EPS files for making screenprinting artwork.
I use a combination of Illustrator, Corel Draw and sometimes Photoshop to make or modify my screen print artwork. Photoshop will be the least useful in that it does not handle vector art. But you can use Photoshop or other photo editing programs to do a few things to items that may then be imported into vector software and converted or “traced” to vector format. The lower the quality of the original image file, the lower the quality the vector conversion will be. I find this function to work better on Corel than Illustrator but it will not be able to recreate very high quality vector conversions. For that you should use a professional service or artist.
Vector software and other photo editing programs can be expensive to buy on a professional level. There may be some educational versions of software available for students but in the end a fully functional version of Illustrator or Corel will cost you. There are some free software downloads that offer vector and photo editing software but you have to check them out and see which ones will work best for you and your computer.
Illustrator and Corel Draw both handle vector file formats such as EPS, PDF, and their own file format. But Corel seems to have an advantage in that it can open Illustrator files as well. It seems to open most version’s file formats if not all. I favor Corel for certain art jobs and Illustrator for others. I like them both but I would say Corel would be easier to learn for a beginner.
If you are new to screen printing and are heavily using Photoshop, I would recommend getting familiar with a vector art program. It may take longer to understand or generate art in the beginning but in the long run you will be happy you did. Vector art and clip art go hand in hand with custom screen printing. Thanks for reading! Learn how to screen print with Catspit Productions, LLC!