Journals and Notebooks

Custom Apparel Imprint Methods



There are lots of ways to decorate your custom printed apparel. The industry has come a long way from just your standard plain-jane printing processes. Nowadays, you can print just about anything in any number of colors and styles using a variety of new methods and technologies for a look that best fits your brand.

Screen Printing

Screen printing or silk screen printing is the most common and budget-friendly imprint method for apparel and great for bright pops of color and solid colored logos. All screen printed artwork is printed using standard Pantone ink colors so colors prints true, crisp, and clear.

The process of screen printing goes like this: Your design is burned into a fine mesh screen with one screen for each color in your design. Ink is then applied to each screen and squeezed through the tiny mesh onto your product layer by layer. Below is an illustration of the screen printing process.


Full Color / Four Color Process / CMYK

Four color process is a very popular imprint method for those who want to have their apparel decorated with a photograph or other full color image. Perfect for artwork with lots of shading and gradients.

The full color printing process combines four colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) to create full color images, commonly referred to as “CMYK”. Theses colors are printed on top of one another producing full color image. Below is an illustration of the full color printing process. When viewed up close under a magnifying glass, you may be able to see the dots of individual colors within the image.

Many of our vendors offer full color printing but have a special proprietary names for it such as Photographix or BritePix but it is an identical or very similar process as noted here.

Full color printing can be achieved by a few different methods. Usually the artwork is separated into 4 different screens (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) similar to the way colors are separated for silk screen process as noted above. The screens are then printed onto the item one at a time using a printing press and layered over each other to achieve the full color look.

Full color printing can also be achieved by with infusion or direct to garment printing. Using a specialized digital printer (think like your home or office printer, but about 10 times the size) the item is fed into the machine (like paper) and the four colors of ink are printed all at once directly to the product in rows of color. The final effect is a beautiful design with a soft touch (unlike the “plastic” feel of silk screened shirts). However, with direct printing, we recommend white shirts for the brightest designs as the inks cannot include white – so the designs may have a weathered or faded look on colored apparel.


Dye Sublimation

Sublimation is a process for decorating polyester fabrics. It is accomplished by printing a special ink onto transfer paper, applying that paper to a substrate and then applying heat and pressure to the material. The result is a soft-hand print and excellent color reproduction. This technique works best on white, or light colored polyester fabric. Not only is the technique exciting, the fact that we have a huge print area makes it even better. You can print all over garments, full front or full back print. Please note that due to the sleeves, all over imprint may have imperfections or “character marks” in the underarm area.


Heat Transfer

Heat transfer is a process by which your image is printed and trimmed out of a sheet of fusible material and then applied to the product using heat to seal it onto the item. This method’s well-known relative is the iron-on transfer that you may have encountered at craft stores, but heat transfers used by Inkhead are made of high-quality, professional grade materials. Your artwork will be fused onto the apparel and look crisp and clean though it may not work best with artwork with faded edges or seamless shading in the background.



 Very popular for uniforms or corporate events, embroidery is a process where your logo is translated into a design using thread. Inkhead will take your design and digitize it into a file that an embroidery machine can read and then the machine will sew the threads directly into your item. This method works best with solid color logos. Fine detail and small text is not recommended for this type of decoration.


Laser Engraving

Laser engraving is a process where a laser printer is used to very slightly and precisely melt the very surface of fabric, creating a beautiful and sleek tone on tone design. No color is used in this imprint process. This process is only available on certain materials.



Debossing is a process in which a metal die of your design is created and then pressed into the item material leaving a colorless impression. The final product sports a cool and subtle 3-D look which is very unique. No color is used in this imprint process. This process is only available on certain materials.

As you can see Inkhead uses both trusted standards and new and exciting printing methods to make any style of design possible. Classic left chest embroidery for your uniforms? Done! A trendy, distressed look for your band tees? Done! If one style doesn’t work for your brand, we’re sure to have another option available for you just a click or call away. If you have a design you want on apparel, Inkhead can print it!

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InkHead Promotional Products
We make quality custom promotional products designed by you.
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