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Choosing Ink Colors

One of the most exciting parts of designing a t-shirt is choosing your shirt and ink color, but sometimes it can be challenging to create a legible design due to color contrast. Computer screens can cause shirt and ink color combinations to appear more vibrant than they actually are once they’re printed. So, how do you know which colors will pair well and which ones won’t? American Tees has the 411, also known as information, you need to know when it comes to choosing which t-shirt and ink colors will work the best for your next screen printed design! 

Why Do Some Ink Colors Show Up Better?

Digital screens typically have a filter on them to make the colors look more vibrant and appealing. The filters may make your regular computer look more enticing, but it will alter the colors you see in our virtual proofs compared to what you receive in your order in real life. Computer screens are brighter for the simple fact that the screens use light to show those colors, while a printed image on a t-shirt does not. Also, it is so important to note that, depending on the screen, it will completely change the way the image or proof may look due to things like blue light filters, screen brightness and more. All of these items work together to provide the image and depending on what screen you are looking at your proof on, it may look completely different on the next screen.

Other things to keep in mind is that the ink color can take on some of the hue of the apparel we are printing on.  For example if you print a yellow on black, the black shirt underneath can give the yellow a darker hue to it if the ink is not completely opaque and so forth.  With this knowledge, our team at American Tees is always watching for color contrast issues with each order we receive. Potential color contrast issues that arise will lead our team to contacting you to discuss changing a color or adding other details to make the design easier to see. We want you to love the colors of your screen printed apparel AND others be able to read or see it!

How to Get Color Combos that POP!

If you choose to use a lighter colored shirt, pastel colors such as baby blue, light pink, and yellow are colors to be mindful of. You can see pastel colors on the lighter colored shirts, but the design may not be easy to read or see from a distance. If you love the lighter colored shirt with pastel colors in your design, we have options! Our graphic designer can easily add a darker colored outline to the pastel color in order to highlight the text making it more legible! 

When you decide to use a darker colored shirt you’ll have a similar concern. Lighter ink colors will always pair well with darker colored shirts and create a t-shirt with a design that will really POP, but pairing darker colored shirts with dark ink colors leads to an illegible design. Colors like maroon, cardinal, or forest will look great in color charts or a virtual proof, but the color may be distorted when it’s printed causing them to look more dull or brown than desired. 

Check out the shirt color and ink color pairing graphics we created below for visual examples of what colors do and don’t pair well when they’re printed! You’ll also notice we showed you what to do instead on the “no” color combos, which is to add an outline to your design to make it more legible.  

Color Pairing Pro?!

Hopefully you feel like a color pairing pro now, or at least more confident in choosing your t-shirt and ink colors that will work well together after reading the information in this blog post! If you still feel unsure about your color choices or have no clue what colors you should use to begin with, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! Our talented graphic designer does this every day and would be happy to help you create a legible design you love! 

We have pictures and videos of t-shirts we’ve previously screen printed on our social media accounts you can look at for a better idea of what colors work together as well! Head over to our Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok page to see those anytime! Even if you don’t need to see those screen printed t-shirt images and videos, we’d love if you hop on to say hi and give us a follow! We’ll see ya there!

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