So you have an image that you created in a paint program like Photoshop or Corel Paint. It looks cool. Lots of layers, transparencies, brush effects ... it's perfect. You want that on a shirt. Screeeeech. That would be the sound of finger nails on a chalk board. We always ask what type of files you will sending us before we quote you how much your shirt will be. Screen printers work with vector files. What's a vector file? Don't worry we are asked that at least 10-20 times a week. There are two types of images created digitally. Raster images (bitmaps) and Vector images. Without going into a long discussion of each ... raster images are composed of connected dots vector images are composed of connected lines.

A raster image is a collection of dots called pixels. Each pixel is a tiny colored square. When an image is scanned, the image is converted to a collection of pixels called a raster image. Scanned graphics and web graphics (JPEG and GIF files) are the most common forms of raster images. The short of it is ... raster images do not scale up very well.

A vector image is a collection of connected lines and curves that produce objects. When creating a vector image in a vector illustration program, node or drawing points are inserted and lines and curves connect nodes together. This is the same principle as "connect the dots". Each node, line and curve is defined in the drawing by the graphics software by a mathematical description. Every aspect of a vector object is defined by math included node position, node location, line length and on down the line. Text objects are created by connecting nodes, lines and curves. Every letter in a font starts out as a vector object. Vector images are object-oriented while raster images are pixel oriented. A vector object will have a "wireframe" underneath the colors in the object. In a vector object, colors are like clothes over the top of a skeleton. CorelDRAW and Illustrator create text and objects using vectors that can be easily manipulated.

Since vector images are composed of objects not pixels, you can change the color of individual objects without worrying about individual pixels. Coloring vector objects is similar to coloring with crayons in a coloring book. A drawing program will enable a user to click inside an object and define its color. A drawing program will also enable a user to define the color and width of lines. Coloring vector images is much easier than coloring bitmaps.

The short of it is this ... if you provide us with a raster image ... we have to convert it to a vector image prior to printing it. Sometimes this is simple task ... sometimes it is not. When in doubt ... create it in Illustrator or CorelDraw.

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