How to Avoid these 8 Common Design Mistakes

How to Avoid these 8 Common Design Mistakes

What can go wrong when creating your designs? How can you avoid the most common mistakes? Find out here!

There can be many reasons why a design isn’t selling well. But high quality designs definitely sell best. And with a little know-how, you can avoid many of the common pitfalls.

Ready? Then read on to see the eight mistakes we see most often and learn how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1: Small design, big background

Your design looks cool – but what’s the point of having a big transparent background? With this design, you’ll have difficulties placing your designs on our products. Also, it’ll be frustrating for customers who want to personalize the product or use your design when creating their own product. Because of the empty, invisible background, your design can’t fill the whole print area and can’t be enlarged. Don’t be this guy!


On the left, a design with a large transparent background; on the right, the same design with a cropped background.

Do this instead: Adjust the background to the design size

Crop your design’s background before uploading so that only a small margin remains around the design. We also have a feature that automatically detects transparent backgrounds that are too large and suggests an optimized, cropped version.

Better print results: this feature automatically detects large transparent backgrounds and suggests a cropped version.

Mistake #2: Semi-transparent design elements

Most of you know that transparent layers cannot be printed. However, people often forget that shadow, shimmer and smoke effects are also semi-transparent.

In order for your design to shine on all product colors, our printers first spray a white top layer onto the product. Therefore, only opaque colors look good in print. Even a transparency of only 10% means that a white layer will be visible behind the design when printed.

While this effect looks nice on-screen, it doesn’t look as good when printed.

Do this instead: Detect semi-transparency

If you are not sure whether a design area is semi-transparent or not, you can simply “simulate” the white background that would appear when printing.

In Photoshop it works like this:

  1. Add a new colored background layer
  2. Right click on your design layer and choose “Layer Style”
  3. Click on “Contour” and choose the following settings: Fill Method = Normal, Position = Center, Color = White.
    1. You can also get to this setting in another way: Menu Bar > Layers > Layer Style > Contour or by clicking the fx icon at the bottom of the layer bar.
  4. Now you can change the size of the contour to see if it will be visible inside your design
  5. If you find semi-transparencies in your design, create a solid background in the shape of your design and merge it with your design
  6. Then delete the colored background layer again

Mistake #3: Low-resolution designs

Pixel designs cannot be scaled indefinitely – or you will always have some loss of quality.

Do this instead: Observe minimum requirements

Always optimize your pixel graphics exactly according to our recommendations and observe the minimum requirements for your design.

In our FAQ, you can learn how to optimize your pixel graphics for printing.

Mistake #4: Images are too smal

If your pixel graphic is very small, it cannot be scaled to the size of the entire print area. Customers using the Create Tool will probably get frustrated after a while and won’t end up purchasing your design.

Do this instead: Upload large designs

Even if a small design is a style element – upload it in a large size. That way, it can be scaled for every use case.

Mistake #5: Pixelated design elements

When you combine different images into one, the quality is often very different. So you end up with an image that is partially pixelated.

Do this instead: Use only high-resolution images

Either don’t work with third-party designs or images at all, or use only high-resolution graphics. If you use both vector and pixel graphics for an image, you should rasterize the vector file first to achieve a quality and look comparable to the pixel elements.

Mistake #6: Pixel remnants in the design

If the background was not cropped correctly or you used the magic wand tool to remove the background, sometimes you are left with individual pixels that do not belong to the image. You may not see this in the graphic, but when you print it, small dots will appear all over the product.

Do this instead: Locate & delete pixel remnants

Just as with semi-transparent design elements, you can also find individual pixels using the outline function. Delete these found pixels and remove the outline effect and the colored background afterwards.

Mistake #7: Colors are too bright

To print a design, it must be in CMYK mode. If you edit your design in RGB, you may end up with colors that look completely different in CMYK – that is, when printed.

Do this instead: Edit designs in CMYK, save as RGB

Therefore, always edit your designs in CMYK mode and change them to RGB just before saving them as .png files.

For more on the color differences between monitors and fabrics, see our FAQ.

Why do you ask for an RGB file when you can only print CMYK?

The answer is simple: we need your designs in RGB mode so they look good on screen for customers. Our state-of-the-art printers then automatically convert your RGB file to CMYK for printing.

Mistake #8: Vector designs with gradients

Vector designs that contain gradients are automatically converted to a pixel graphic when uploaded. This means that the colors of your design can no longer be adjusted.

Do this instead: Use a maximum of 3 colors

With gradients between two colors, you create many different colors. These are not printable as vector graphics, so you should not upload vector designs with gradients. Make sure that your vector graphics really only contain 3 different colors.

These were our top 8 most common mistakes during design creation. We hope we were able to give you a few “aha!” moments! If you have any questions, feel free to ask us – right here or in the Marketplace Forum.

5 comments Write a comment

  1. Merci beaucoup ,ça va beaucoup m’aider. nous faire une liste avec des valeurs en pixels selon les produits c’est. par ex : sur un T-shirt le produit de conception doit etre de telle taille en pixels. Ainsi de suite…Merci

  2. This information is very helpful, Thank You very much, and Iam looking forward to apply this information on my future designs.

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