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Please read this entire page before sending artwork. The info on this page will help keep your order from being delayed because of problems with improper artwork.

Artwork File Formats

Formats that Contagious Graphics can accept for artwork:

  • Illustrator (.AI)
  • Vector (.EPS)
  • Photoshop (.PSD)
  • PDF
  • JPG
  • TIFF
  • All files must be at least 300 DPI at Actual Print Size or in a vector format. If your file is not 300 DPI at Actual Print Size, you cannot just increase the resolution of the file. This is called "upsampling" and will result in a blurry image.

    We prefer .AI or .EPS files because Vector images can be scaled without affecting quality.
    After that, .PSD or .PDF files are preferred, and then .JPG or .TIFF last.

    Size Your Design - Your design should be sized to the size it should be printed. If you want your print to be 10" wide, please be sure the actual design within the file is 10" wide, not just the background of your design file.

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    Apparel Printing Styles

    Standard Screen Printing

    Grayscale Image Printing

    Multicolor Process Printing

    Discharge Printing

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    Drop shadows, gradients, photographs and what halftone dots are...

    There is always a difference between the appearance of a digital artwork file on the computer monitor and what can be produced when it is actually printed. Below is a example of a single color sticker with a drop shadow/blur around the type. In Photoshop the gradient is produced by varying tones of black and grey pixels. This gives appearance of a smooth gradient when viewed on your computer monitor. When the same image is screenprinted, you are trying to recreate that gradient using only one color of ink. In printing, this is called a halftone screen. A halftone screen is comprised of tiny halftone dots of ink used to recreate gradients or the various tones in a photograph. It is a similar process to what you see with pictures in a newspaper. The examples below show an enlarged section of both a screenprinted sticker with a gradient "glow" and a photographic image using only one ink color (black in this case). Close up you can see the dots, but at a distance of about 2 to 3 ft. your eye blends the dots into a smooth gradient.

    Spaceman gradient

    The design the way it looks in Photoshop

    spaceman printed gradient

    A blown up section of the sticker after it is screenprinted.

    A photograph the way it looks in Photoshop
    A blown up section of the photo after it is printed with halftone dots.

    Be aware if you will be using gradients in your design, that this is how they will look when printed. If you do not like the way gradients look when printed, the alternative is to just use solid areas of color (which means using additional ink colors).

    Let us set up the halftone: Please allow us to halftone the images for you. If we do not control the halftones, we cannot guarantee the quality of the print. We do understand that some designs are complex, and you may be inclined to try to separate or halftone the image yourself. Unfortunately this does not work. Our art department have the knowledge to set halftones specifically for the films and screens that we use for printing. Often times if you try to separate or halftone the image yourself, your artwork can be deemed unusable for screen printing.

    If you have any questions about the above information or some other question about artwork, please give us a call (704.529.5600) or e-mail us and we will be glad to help you out.

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    Poster Art Submission

    The simpler the better - Since people are viewing it from moving cars or glancing at it while moving from section to section at a record store, in a club, etc.

    Make it eye catching - Use bold logos, cool artwork, or a photograph. When using photos or shaded images (read about gradients/halftones) the halftone dots will be large just remember the viewing distance is normally 4-6 feet not 6 inches from the viewer's face.

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    Sticker Art Submission

    Sticker templates - For your convenience, we have provided Standard Sticker Templates you can download. The file options available are EPS, TIFF and PSD. You can use these templates to help create your artwork and make sure you have everything set up correctly from the beginning.

    Keep it simple - A simple, high-contrast design works best. Most stickers we make are smaller sizes than the traditional "bumper sticker." Therefore, designs should be clear, easy to read and use bold lettering. Look at our sticker samples for some ideas.

    Watch your borders/inset - For a Standard Sticker, you need to keep a solid 1/8 inch (0.125") border around your artwork of either White, Black, or Red. If not, we will need to add one around the artwork for you and this could delay your order. We do not do custom multi-color bleeds (this is when an element of your design (such as text) goes to the edge of the sticker) on Standard Sticker orders of 500 or less. We can do custom multi-color bleeds on Custom Stickers orders of 500 or more.

    1/8th inch border sample

    Use solid colors - Try to avoid shading, gradations, and blends. Designs or photographs with fine shading may drop out and will be created using halftone dots. Use solid fills and outlines for best results.

    Create a smart design - Use reversed/inverted images and printed backgrounds to your advantage. Black text printed on a white background can seem pretty plain, try reversing/inverting your image. You will end up with what appears to be white text (the vinyl showing through) on a black background (the actual printed ink). This design will have higher contrast and is more "eye catching".

    4 ink colors doesn't mean "Process color" - We can print 4 spot ink colors (or more) or 4 Color Process (aka 4C Process, CMYK, Full Color), but they are NOT the same thing. 4 Color Process is how full color magazine images are printed. Semi-opaque Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black ink are printed so that they combine optically to create the appearance of a full color image. Please be aware that 4 Color Process WILL NOT look as good on a sticker as it does in a magazine (screenprinters use larger halftone dot screens than offset magazine printers). 4C Process stickers and 4 spot ink color stickers are available as a custom sticker order and are priced the same.

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