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Sending RAD Your Vector Artwork

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Maintaining your brand is important. We understand that. We also know how to provide you with the best experience and professional results you would expect from a business that is supplying you with a branded product. When it comes to screen-printing there are important things to be aware of when ordering from Rockford Art Deli.

Printing any image or logo, whether it is text or illustration, the preferred method for file format is what is called VECTOR.


Wikipedia explains it as, “Vector graphics files store the points, lines, shapes, curves and colors that make up an image as mathematical formulae. High quality logos are always designed in vector based software.”

Maybe that doesn't sound exciting to you but it’s actually kinda cool. It has to do with enlarging the image for output on your shirt instead displaying it simply on a screen, or perhaps as small as it appears on your business card.

Here are the three most common vector files used for printing (and our favorite file types to receive art):


PDF (.pdf), which stands for Portable Document Format, is one of the most popular file types, and for good reason. It was designed to be standardized, meaning it can be opened or viewed on just about any operating system, without needing the app that created it, and will retain its original fonts and layout. PDFs can also contain “rich media” such as GIFs, 3-dimensional objects and video clips. Just don’t ask to print those on a T-shirt. (We tried, it doesn’t work).


EPS (.eps), which stands for Encapsulated PostScript, is one of the standard vector file types. It’s a reliable format that tends to be self-contained, so it’s ready for action. There are lots of programs that can save out EPS files, such as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign, even CorelDRAW. One big program that will not allow you to save out as EPS is Microsoft Office. But that’s ok, because please don’t use Office to make designs.


AI (.ai) is Adobe Illustrator’s native file type. We love these because it’s the premier vector graphic program, so the person who made it is most likely a professional. If you’re in the market for a decent vector editor but don’t have the budget for Adobe Illustrator, there a free program called Inkscape that people seem to like. In fact, we use it just for converting CorelDRAW files (.cdr) to something we can open in Illustrator (.eps).

Bottom line: If you’re not sure which one of these you should save your file as don’t stress about it. Any of them will work. If you want to use the most versatile format, that would be a PDF.


Vector logos can be scaled as large or as small as you would like, while remaining perfectly intact, crisp and clear. With a vector logo, you can resize your logo as large as the side of your private jet, and as small as the tip of an eraser without sacrificing any quality.

Images created in a pixel based software (for instance, a .JPG, an image you save off the web, or an image you’ve sneakily captured in a MS Word Document) will not scale properly and will lose quality each time it is resized, becoming impossible to work with. Think of all the things you can slap your logo on with the ability to scale it consistently and precisely.

Example: Did you ever try to enlarge a great photo, but when it returned to you developed, it appeared blurry and pixelated? This is the same thing that happens to a pixel based logo over time when it is NOT a vector.

Your goal is to have consistency and professionalism from your business card, to your embroidered shirts, to your hats, to your rack cards and beyond. If you’re in this for the bigger picture, a vector is absolutely necessary.


Usually a vector file will have an .eps or .ai extension at the end.

If your file is pixel based, (meaning NOT a vector) it will probably have one of these extensions instead: .jpg, .tif, .gif, .png or .psd

Unless you own vector software, you will most likely NEVER be able to open the vector logo your graphic designer sends you. But THAT’S OKAY! Save it and cherish it. Whenever you work with a graphic designer, web designer, sign maker, or high quality printer in the future, you will be asked to send over your vector logo for the highest quality of print work. Voila!

When you work with Rockford Art Deli to produce branded apparel, it is our request you supply us with proper files to ensure the best looking items we can print.


Creating “Outlines” of Your Fonts

When you work in vector format, the fonts you use are from your own computer and do not automatically send along with the file. This can be a problem if your printer doesn’t have the same font. The default state of the text is “live” which means editable. If you need to keep your fonts “live” in the file for whatever reason, you will need to send your printer the font file along with the vector file. If you are done editing the text, you can avoid missing font problems by creating “outlines” of your type. In Illustrator, select all your type, and under the “Type” menu, select “Create Outlines”. This will convert all your fonts into text shapes and make them ready to be printed.

Placed Files vs Linked Files

When placing a bitmap file into a vector document, some people will accidentally “link” the file rather than place it. This creates a reference image that appears in the preview, but whuump whuump… is not there when you open the document. If the linked file is not included along with the main file, it’s not going to work. So be sure to uncheck the “link to” box when you’re placing a file. And that’s… one to grow on.

Picking PMS Colors

We will provide free pantone color matching for your garments when your orders are submitted. However, there is an issue with pantone matching, and that is that not every color looks the same on every monitor. A certain red on your screen may appear to be a different red on ours. There is no universal color calibration for computers. It is always best to try to supply your own pantone colors if possible.


Great question! A professional graphic artist can skillfully design your logo in a vector format by re-drawing and re-creating the logo from scratch. In some cases, logos may need some love; updating, cleaning up, or refreshing a logo can be fun and breathe new life into your branding. Rockford Art Deli can surely help with this too if needed, but that requires extra time and project management... or in another word, cost. We can work with you and determine what steps are necessary and potential costs involved with getting your graphic vector formatted. Simply contact us!

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