Is printing photographs on t-shirts hard to do?

Yes, in fact, printing photographs on t-shirts is one of the hardest techniques to master for a screen printer. The biggest reason behind this has to do less with the actual process and more about the expectations of the person getting the t-shirts printed. You see, it is close to impossible to have the photograph look as good on fabric as it does on paper or a computer screen, but most customers do not realize that and expect it to be an exact or very close match.

Inkjet printers are much more suited for the overall number of colors involved in the color spectrum for photographs. Screen printed is best used for printing single solid colors. Now don't be confused, you can have multiple colors with screen printing and that is fine as long as they are solid colors. Photographs actually have thousands of colors, color gradients and different forms of shading throughout the image which makes them much different from a solid colored design.

The way screen printers do, on occasion, print photographs on t-shirts is through the use of a process called four color process printing otherwise known as CMYK printing. Four color process printing is a very inexact science with the end result being an attempt to get as close as possible to the original image. Most of the time this final result tends to hover around 50 to 70% quality of the photograph being transferred to t-shirt fabric. This may please some customers, and yet may disappoint others.

And this brings us back to the original point being made. If your expectations are that you want the print to be close to the image but not exact, then you should be very pleased with the final printed project. If you are expecting the t-shirt to look exactly as the photograph does on paper, you may be disappointed with the end result. Having a clear understanding of the process and reasonable expectations is key in circumstances like this. In many cases it is simply better to forgo the photograph completely and get a different type of design printed instead.

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