T-Shirt Colours for Printing

Best Product Colours for Printed shirts.

Now, there are plenty of things to consider when you’re planning a run of custom printed tees. Not least, how well your design comes over on the shirt. And one of the most important factors with that is the base garment upon which you’re printing. Specifically, the colour. That’s to say, t-shirt and ink colour combinations are a big deal for a number of reasons when you want great-looking custom tees. All of which we’ll explore in our guide to choosing t-shirt colours for printing.

Screen Printing Light and Dark Tees.

When customising clothes, the colour of the base textile can have a direct effect on the screen printing process. To explain, dark coloured t-shirts need a base coat for lighter inks. Otherwise, the colour of the print may not take properly. For reference, this extra layer of ink is called an underbase or underlay and is usually a thin print of white or light coloured ink. So, in purely practical terms, the best product colours for t-shirt printing could be viewed as the lighter ones. If for no other reason than they require less work.

White when choosing t-shirt colours for printing.

White shirts and printing

Dark shades when choosing t-shirt colours for printing.

Print on dark coloured tees

Printing neutral t-shirt colours

The cheapest t-shirt colour for printing.

For many, the best colour for t-shirt printing is the least expensive. In general, choosing white t-shirts is the cheapest option. As mentioned above, these white tees don’t require the extra base coat. And, naturally, there is a charge for the latter because it means another screen is needed and every screen costs money. Beyond that, the actual price of white shirts can sometimes be less because they may cost the supplier less to actually make. That said, pale coloured shirts offer a saving with screens even though purchasing them may be the same.

Printing dark ink on coloured shirts.

This is another approach that can avoid the necessity of an underbase. Namely, using darker inks. In particular, black which is a good bet for most colours of fabric. A general rule of thumb is that the ink should be darker than the material. Although, the type of ink and screen printing method can also create different results depending on the colour of the base shirt. Below, we’ll explore other areas related to shirt colours.

Matching Brand with T-Shirt Colours for Printing.

With many businesses, colour is a fundamental part of their identity. As a consequence, matching brand colours to printed shirts, clothing and merchandise is often highly desirable. So, we’ll look at what can be realistically achieved in regard to this aspect of custom print.

Pantones, company colours, clothing and print.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, the Pantone Matching System is a standardised method of matching colours. On the surface, it would appear to be an ideal answer. However, whilst being useful, it does have limitations. To explain, there is a wide range of plain tees designed for personalisation. But there are also many pantones and hex codes. Therefore, finding an exact match for a textile is not always possible.

As a consequence, the common approach when choosing product colours for print is to go approximate rather than precise. Basically, get as close as you can. Bearing in mind that the choice may narrow with other factors like your preferred style, fabric composition and size range. Alternatively, you can simply opt for black, white and neutral shades that harmonise with your branding colours.

Variation with T-Shirt Colours for Printing.

Another point worthy of consideration with garment colours and screen printing is the huge inconsistency found in the blank clothing market. To put it a different way, two royal blues are rarely the same. This need not be a problem, so long as you’re aware of some of the nuances.

Subjective names when choosing t-shirt colours for printing.

Shirt colours can be subjective

Variation when choosing t-shirt colours for printing.

And vary with suppliers

Fabric content when choosing t-shirt colours for printing.

Or even with fabric content

T-shirt suppliers and colour names.

With garment colours, especially basic shades, each manufacturer will have their own interpretation. In effect, there are a shedload of different reds, yellows, and greens out there. Which is fine and to be expected. But it does require a little thought when you’re choosing your plain shirt to print.

Why? Well, for example, switching supplier for the next print run is likely to mean an inconsistency. And that’s a headache if colour consistency with the shirt is important to your concept. One way round it is to choose a popular colour in a product with a long lifecycle from an established shirt supplier. And keep an eye out for seasonal colours which are effectively limited editions.

Having said all that, even the same garment and colour from the same supplier can vary. It’s something which is beyond our control as high volume wholesale t-shirt printers. And, in truth, often beyond the control of the supplier. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable that dye batches may vary. And it’s inevitable that products and/or colours will at times be discontinued.

Supplier specific shirt colours.

Nowadays, it’s increasingly common to find clothing manufacturers creating their own names for colours. And, in many ways, it’s a welcome move insofar as you can’t confuse ‘garment dyed gold ochre’ with some other gold, beige or brown. Of course, taking this road can mean you’re tied to a very specific colour.

We deal with a vast number of plain product suppliers. Listed below are links to the colour guide pages for a few which will give an idea of what appears on different swatch palettes:

Not all of these shades are necessarily available in the UK but they do serve to illustrate the diversity of garment colour.

Viewing t-shirt colours online.

In the modern era, any piece about choosing t-shirt colours for printing needs to reference this subject. Odds are that your first sight of a t-shirt will on the internet. And, much as the web gives us a wealth of benefits, absolutely reliable colour representation isn’t one of them. Understandably, because supplier images may not be accurate and individual screens have different displays. In short, there’s nothing quite like holding the shirt in your hand when you want to be completely sure about the colour.

Well, hopefully the above will make life a little easier when deciding which product colours you want to print. But remember, your customisation company will always be able to help if you’re in doubt.

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