Getting The Most Out Of Garment Creator
One of the great features of the Epson F2000 is the RIP software that is included with it – Garment Creator. RIP stands for Raster Image Processor, and is the name for the type of software that converts a digital image into a format the printer can understand. While Garment Creator is not graphics software in its own right and cannot be used to create images, there are a number of very important settings that will make your prints look their best and save ink and time.
To get started, download Garment Creator, along with the “Drivers and Utilities Combo Package” here. You do not need to have an F2K connected to try out the software, so feel free to give it a test drive if you don’t have a printer yet but are curious about it.
After installing the software, open Garment Creator. There are a few main things we want to look at first. For starters, you’ll see the background image I use does not have the t-shirt you see on your screen. I find it’s helpful to turn it off, but feel free to leave it on if you prefer. The setting is under View>Guide View>Background Image, or just press Ctrl+B.
This menu is extremely important, and must be set correctly for your garment type in order to print properly.
Black Color T-Shirt: Uses the black of the t-shirt instead of black ink. This vastly improves the hand of the final print and saves money on ink.
Light Color T-Shirt: This mode is for white or light colored shirts, and prints in CMYK only with no white ink. Instead, it uses whatever color the garment is as the white in the print, so the shirt color will have an effect on the final print. This print mode requires no pretreat, and has a very soft hand. It is also much faster than printing with white ink, and averages 25-40 shirts/hr instead of 10-15. It’s also quite a bit cheaper – an image that would use $2 in ink on a dark shirt will average around $0.32 per shirt with a CMYK-only print – that’s about an 80% savings in ink costs.
Dark Color T-Shirt (Standard): This mode includes a white underbase as well as the black ink. It’s what you should use for every garment that includes white ink but isn’t a black tee.
Dark Color T-Shirt (White): This print mode is for white-only prints. It will also convert a color image into a greyscale image in white ink.
Light Color T-Shirt (High Speed Color Mode): This option is only for printers that are set to run in the dual CMYK configuration that is selected at the initial starting of the machine during installation. The vast majority of F2K printers are set up to run with white ink, and will never use this option
Let’s start by clicking on the “Garment Settings” tab, where you will find many critical settings. You’ll need to keep an eye on these settings as they don’t save, and can be erased when you open a new file or change preset mode.
Color and White Print Quality: These settings can be adjusted to fit your personal preferences and can have a huge effect on ink costs. If you do find you’re not getting enough of a white base when printing, you can move the “White Print Quality” slider all the way to the right to do two passes of white, though this will use significantly more ink. Conversely, moving the slider all the way to the left lays down significantly less white ink, but can also save around 40% on ink costs, though the white is significantly less bright. Run different settings though the Estimate tool we’ll go over later and you will see what a huge difference it can make.
Print Direction: This setting should normally be set to Bi-Direction (High Speed) unless you’re printing a particularly detailed image and are experiencing a decrease in image quality.
Media Profile: Leave this alone.
Pause Between Passes: Most users will not need to use this, but if you’re experiencing blurry color prints try adding a 10-20 second pause between prints to let the white ink dry a bit before adding the second layer.
This one’s important and can save you a lot of money if used correctly. To start, use these settings:
As you print, try playing with the ink densities to get the brightest color you can while using the least amount of ink. Check this with the Estimate tool I’ll cover in my next article.
Treatment of White Pixel: Leave this on “White (Design)”
Reduce White Area: I like to leave this set at 4, but you can go up or down depending on your image. For a detailed image with a lot of fine dots I’d consider lowering it to 1 or 2, or if I’m having issues with the underbase peeking out I’ll go as high as 6 or 8. This setting is the same as choking your underbase for all the screen printers reading this.
Under White: Leave this on unless you’re doing a print on a light-colored tee and just want a highlight white.
While most color adjustments should be done in your graphics program, it is possible to make limited adjustments within Garment Creator. Out of these settings, start with Saturation first and go from there. Be careful, though, as the changes in the final print will be much more drastic than what is shown in the preview.
We’re going to skip ahead to the Color Replacement tab and go over a few important settings before getting into the Layout Settings. A lot of what is covered in Color Replacement can also be done in your graphics software prior to importing into Garment Creator, but there are some useful tools here.
To start, I’ve imported a nice, royalty-free image I found on Google. To do this, either go to File>Import>Image, hit Ctrl+I, or click on the folder icon in the toolbar.
For this job, we’ll be printing it with white ink on a grey shirt, so I’ve changed the background color using the color pallet icon in the toolbar. If you’d like to use the same image for consistency, you can find it here.
To begin, we’re going to want to get rid of the large white border. To do this, click on the “Transparent” button, and make sure your “Color Tolerance” is set to around 100 (this will take adjustment, depending on the image), and “Only Neighboring Area” is checked. Then, click anywhere on the white border.
As you can see, the white border is now gone, and the color is listed on the table on the right. You can do this to knock out as many colors as needed. For light garments, you can use the same process, either with Transparent or White. For blocker, vector-style designs, you can also change spot colors, though this isn’t recommended for more detailed, photographic style art.
During a print run, this is where you’ll spend most of your time. It’s a critical place for sizing your image and making sure it’s in the correct location to print. You can zoom in and out on the image by mousing over the image area and using your scroll wheel.
The image you see below corresponds to the platen on the printer, and shows where the image will be printed. Since I load my t-shirts with the bottom of the collar tape just touching the platen, I put my images 2” down. Always remember that the top of the platen shown here corresponds to the outermost part of the printer platen.
Alignment: You can set this how you prefer, but my personal preference is to set it for “Top-Center.” It makes it easier to stay consistent on the garment.
Platen: Make sure this is set to the platen that is installed. Most of you will be printing on the standard 14”x16” platen that comes included with the unit.
Offset: This setting is critical to ensuring proper garment placement. For most center-chest images, you’ll want the Horizontal to be at zero and the vertical to be around 2”, though depending on the boundaries of the raster file you’ve loaded into Garment Creator that could change slightly – you’ll see the image I loaded is at 1.74” down, because of the transparent border we knocked out in the last section. Because of that, I moved the image up to the 2” gridline to compensate.
Reduce/Enlarge: One of the core benefits of DTG printing is the ability to re-size designs to fit the shirt size. The “Reduce/Enlarge” menu is where we do this. In this case, the image is about 8”x13”. That’s a good size to go on a large t-shirt. If our print run is going from small to 3XL, I may start the image at 12” tall for the small shirts, then go up 0.5” in height per size. This is another instance where you want to use the Estimate tool in order to keep a handle on ink costs – taking the image shown from 12” tall to 14” tall takes us from $3.93 in ink costs to $5.32. This is something you should definitely take into account when pricing shirts, and don’t be afraid to increase the cost on larger sizes if need be.
Fit to platen: Makes the image as large as possible.
Once you have your basic settings input, you can save them as a preset by double-clicking anywhere in the “Presets” box and selecting “+ Add Current Layout.” This is also a good place to add settings for chest prints, onesies, etc. – we’ll cover printing on those garments in another article.
These are the basic features of Garment Creator. In my next article, we’ll get into detail about the Estimate tool, which is one of the most valuable components of Garment Creator. As always, if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.
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About the Author
Tom Cochran has been an active participant in the DTG industry since 2012. In addition to owning Big Bend Screen Printing, a DTG, screen printing, and graphic design company, he consults on digital garment printing and other on-demand decoration techniques to a diverse set of clients across the USA. His clients range from small local shops to major athletic wear manufacturers. Tom also works with Ryonet providing contract training and installations for the Epson F2000.