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Your Product Decorating Questions Answered

  • Aug 24, 2021

You encounter promotional products every day. You hold them, wear them, and see them everywhere you go. Are you aware that every one of these products goes through an extensive design process, from adding logos, contact information, to images and more? 

With so many ways to decorate a specific product, it can become overwhelming to figure out what process is best for which product when you’re the one ordering the promo products for your business. That is where the experts at JQ Designs swoop in and save the day! For example, say you’re ordering t-shirts and need to send us a logo and decide on what method of decorating works best for the fabric and logo design. 

These are just a few of the questions you have to understand:

  • What type of art file do you send to JQ Designs?
  • Will it fit the imprint area?
  • Do you choose screen printing or embroidery or another decorating technique?

Have no fear, JQ Designs is here with a little “Promotional Product 101” that will make you feel confident with every decision you make. Here is a rundown of the most popular decorating techniques and answers to the questions above.

What type of artwork files should you provide?

Always provide high-quality art. If the artwork looks “pixelated” on your screen (as if it’s made of thousands of tiny squares) then it will not look good on the finished product. If it’s higher-quality and not pixelated, then your finished product will look more professional. To avoid pixelation, a vector file is the best option to send to decorators. Vector files include EPS, AI, or PDF and are better to use because the decorator can alter the artwork’s scale without losing quality or fidelity. If your logo is saved as a raster file (JPEG, PNG, or TIFF) have a graphic artist convert your logo into a vector graphic through Adobe Illustrator or we can. Remember, if it looks bad on your computer screen—it won’t work! Not sure what kind of file you have? Just look at the name of the file and what letters are behind the dot. For example, jqdesign_logo.ai, is a vector file and good to use.

image of different file format icons

Next, you need to consider the imprint area. The imprint area is the space where you can show off your logo or other design elements that constitute your brand. When ordering products, it’s important to consider your logo and if it will aesthetically fit in the imprint area. If your logo is more vertical, yet the imprint area is stretched horizontally, maybe it’s best to find a different product that will accommodate vertical logos. If your logo is round, consider items that it would look best on, like a golf ball or baseball hat. But don’t worry if it’s hard to visualize—that’s why we are the experts and can help you decide on an appropriate product or placement.

6 Decorating Techniques You Should Know

Now that you know the type of artwork you need to provide, it’s time to tackle the second question and understand some of the most popular decorating techniques. While there are many ways to decorate a promo product—we have listed the top six techniques that a consumer should understand.

Dye-Sublimation: This is a popular printing technique that is used when transferring images onto a specific material like plastic, paper, or fabric. Dye-sublimation uses applied pressure and heat turning a water-based dye ink into a gas that then bonds with the material.

Embossing and Debossing: Typically used on leather-goods or even cardstock, this is the process of creating raised or indented designs on a material. An embossed pattern raises up from the material, and a debossed pattern creates the opposite effect, with indentions against the surface of the material.

image of examples of debossing and embossing

Embroidery: This is one of the most common design techniques and is perfect for apparel or products made with fabric like backpacks and hats. Embroidery is when the fabric is decorated with a needle and thread. You’ve probably seen this technique used on baseball caps, corporate polos, or even fleece blankets. It’s important to note that pricing varies based on the thread count. More colors equal more thread. If you have an intricate, colorful business logo, it’s probably best to choose another design method. That being said, JQ Designs is highly experienced at making complicated logo’s look good!  We will have to see it first to make a determination.

example of embroidery

Engraving: Another popular design technique, engraving is the process of cutting grooves into a flat surface, usually metal or glass. You’ve probably seen engravings on wedding rings, trophies, or metal serving trays.

Pad Printing: Ordering golf balls or watches? Pad printing it is! This printing method transfers ink onto 3-dimensional objects that may have divots or non-flat surfaces. Think of pad printing as stamping your logo onto a geometrical object via a silicone pad.

Screen Printing: Did you know screen printing first appeared during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) in China? It’s a printing technique where a mesh stencil is used to apply layers of different colored inks onto fabric. If you’re ordering darker fabrics and want to make sure your logo pops against the background, screen printing is the way to go due to the thickness of the ink, which results in brighter colors.  Keep in mind that sometimes you may have to start with a white or bottom layer to get the best effect. More layers, and colors equal a higher cost.

At JQ Designs, we believe that ordering products for your business, school, sports team or organization should be easy and fun—not overwhelming. We hope this blog will help you understand the right questions to ask, so you’ll become a promo-ordering expert in no time!


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