Why use Pantone Colour References

Why use Artwork Pantone Colour References

First of all, the artwork for t-shirt design is commissioned, the designer’s beaver away at their design and the colour scheme. When the design is finished their final job is to convert the selected colour scheme into CMYK, RGB and Pantone. From this point; everyone has everything they need.

An Example of Pantone Artwork.

Let’s take an example; we have received the artwork from the designers and asked to print some t-shirt for a forthcoming event for their client. We have the design, Pantone reference, CMYK values and RGB values. Our first job is to send back a visual of the design on a t-shirt showing size and position using the RGB values graphic submitted to use by the designer. This will give the client the closest representation to the original design. When signed off we go to the next stage.

CMYK Notes

Let’s pause this example for the moment and say something about the CMYK, CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black and are transparent. CMYK will not print the same colour on everything, for instance, if you were to print a CMYK value colour on a coated card, it would look a different colour than on uncoated card. The same is true for t-shirts. Similarly, if the t-shirts are not entirely white, but slightly yellow, then the colour will change. Then all the CMYK colours will become more yellow

To Continue with the t-shirt Design

Back to the example; we proceed to print the CMYK values on the same t-shirt stock as the job; we judged this printed t-shirt against the Pantone references from our Pantone book. Using what we know have colour and how can change (as explained in the previous paragraph), we may change the CMYK values so matched the Pantone reference given to us by the designers. There have been occasions when we can not match the Pantone to the t-shirt. Then the designer’s are called in to offer an alternative colour.


The Pantone reference is the only thing we have to show us what the original intention of the designer for the original artwork. Although we have the CMYK and RGB values they can, as I have said, mislead us into believing the print is correct. Hence it is only the Pantone card or reference that shows the exact colour that was the first envisaged by the designer.

Related Links

Pantone Website -> CLICK HERE

Pantone Wikipedia -> CLICK HERE

Ask me about something -> CLICK HERE

How to make Artwork for a T-shirt printer.

How to make Artwork for a T-shirt printer.

Personalizing Artwork for a t-shirt a printer.

As a t-shirt printer is what I would expect for from a customer that supplied artwork. 

The artwork should be made to the same size as the print for t-shirt printing; this could be A3 portrait. The bitmap artwork has a resolution of 300 dpi or vectored artwork. The colours are made from CMYK and supplied with a transparent background.

Let’s examine each sentence in turn.

Same Size Artwork

The “same size” is a general principle in the t-shirt printing industry that the artwork is roughly the same size as the print. If the size of the print is unknown, then make the artwork bigger than the printed object. The printer can always reduce with no loss of quality while enlarging the artwork is problematic.

A3 Portrait

A3 is a paper size which has become a unit of area. The measurement is 297mm x 420mm. There are other sizes see the glossary.


A Bitmap is for the t-shirt printer is a closed file. The printer has no opportunity to change or “tweak” the artwork supplied. If a bitmap must be used then for the best results a 300 dpi resolution should be used and at the same size as the print at will appear on the t-shirt. The artwork should be made in such a way that the background is removed and transparent; the background represents the t-shirt or garment we are printing upon. If anything is left in the background, it will be printed.


The resolution of the bitmap t-shirt artwork should be no lower than 300 dpi. What is dpi; it means “dots per inch”. Imagine a picture is made up of little small squares, grouping them together in one-inch squares would get 300 along the width and 300 along the height. All t-shirt printing is done at 300 dpi while images made for computers are made at 72 dpi.

Vectored Artwork

Vectored Graphic or artwork can be seen as a line or curve between two dots or nodes to create shapes. Artwork should where ever possible should be made as a vectored artwork. Programmes such as Coreldraw and Adobe Illustrator can be used for this, there are others, but these are the most popular. Vectored artwork is the best because; firstly it allows the printer to make adjustments to your artwork, concerning colour correction or scaling the image or “tweaking” the design in some way to aid the printing process.

Link to the Glossary


CMYK means Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK. These four colours mixed together makes full-colour printing. It is important to remember that not all the colours we can see with our eyes in the real world can be represented in CMYK. The design process should take this into account.

Link to the Glossary

Transparent Background

The background is transparent because this is the t-shirt. I find it useful to work with a layer of flat colour which represents the t-shirt colour. Which is removed before sending to the printer. There is confusion when viewing artwork on a computer because the computer always shows the graphic on a white background, and it is not clear if the background is transparent or not


Contact usThis description is how we prepare our artwork for the printing machines. Although it might seem hard; the secret about artwork and printing is preparation. Have everything just right before you start. If this is too much to take in then send us what you have and we sort it out for you.

Getting in touch via the CONTACT Page.

The History of the T-shirt.

The T-shirt

Here is a construction worker relaxing on a steel girder. In flicking through pictures of the early part of the 20th Century, you might have observed that it was only workers who wore vests or singlets. It would be difficult to work in shirts and waistcoats would have been possibly uncomfortable, removing them would be made more accessible to work. There could be other reasons; the clothes would have been expensive to replace.  As seen in the next photo of a steelworker relaxing on the empire state building circa 1931.