How to Create Amazing Artwork by Avoiding Close-Up

Have you ever heard of the term close-up?  And we don’t mean “close up” as in “a short distance a way”.

“I’m ready for my close up!”

No. We are referring to close-up or closure, as in “to grow smaller” or even fill in completely.

If you want to create the best looking artwork you possibly can for your printed apparel, it’s important to understand what “close-up” is and how it affects your finished product for your customer.

The “apeture”, or open areas inside letters, can fill exactly like a camera lens does when plastisol ink expands.

Similar to a camera lens closing, the open areas in your design can also close-up.

Screen printed transfers are created using plastisol ink and when heat applied to your fabric under your heat press, the ink will expand. With up to 80lbs of pressure and high temperature being applied to the ink, it will naturally expand under the heat press.

This expansion is nothing large, usually less than .04″ for our standard ink choices, and not noticeable with bold artwork. However when your artwork contains small detail, the ink expanding can become noticeable.

Understanding Show Through and Line Thickness Guidelines

Case in point.

The example on the left is the artwork created in Easy View® for a Goof Proof® screen printed transfer order to show how the ink expanding can cause the detail to close-up and affect your design.

To put this image in perspective. This sheet size is 11.25″x14″. The large design on the sheet is 11″x7.45″. The small firefighter design is 4″x3″. And the Eagles text is 3.5″x4″. And The Fire Station design is 4.5″x4.5″.

While the design may not look different in the larger, bold design, you will see a noticeable difference in the smaller designs with smaller detail.

Ink expanding can close-up the apeture, counters or kerning between letters causing them to be illegible.

The areas of design that are most affected by ink closure are the areas of “show-through”. Show-through is the area of your design with no ink, and show through to your fabric.

In this example, you will notice a concern in the applied sample. When the ink expanded, it nearly closed in the text in the shield so that it’s almost illegible. The clip art in the shield was very close to closing in as well.

While text is the biggest concern when ink expands, clip art and other design elements can be affected. You can see this in the fire engine in the above design. In the left screen shot of the art file, the fire truck has much more detail than the fire truck on the right after the ink closed in in some of the show through areas. Does it still look like a fire truck? Yes. But has it lost some of it’s detail? Definitely.

So now that you know, and can see that ink expands when heat applied to your fabric, what can you do to create the most amazing artwork by avoiding close-up?

Start by following our Art Specifications for the type of transfer you’re ordering. Different inks expand more than others.  So it’s important to know the minimum show through thickness recommendation. For example, standard Goof Proof, Hot Split or Polytrans has a minimum show through thickness of .04″. So make sure you have .04″ of space in between and you can be assured your ink will not close-up.

Learn how to test your show through thickness using a circle clip art in Easy View.

Screen Printed Transfer Art Specifications

Digital Transfer Art Specifications






How to check for Minimum Show Through and Line thickness in Easy View

Pay attention to the show through ares in your type.

It can be between letters in the kerning, counter and apeture of the letters. And while type is the most noticeable because you want it to be legible, also pay attention to clip art that contains small detail as well. While a little close-up might pass for some designs, others will effect the look of the design.

Main areas within type that are affected by minimum line thickness and show through thickness guidelines for screen printed transfers

Make necessary adjustments to your design if there is small detail. One of the most common mistakes is text with a separated outline. While separated outlines are great for larger designs, they are difficult to get great results with smaller designs like a Left Chest size

Text with separated outline in a small size. Top line: No Modifications, Middle line: Increasing Outline weight, Bottom Line: Remove Outline completely.

On the top line you’ll see the text with separated outline with no modifications. We used the Effects in Easy View and just added a separated outline.

Middle Line was increasing the outline thickness to allow more show through space between the separation.

And in the bottom line, the separated outline was removed completely to avoid the possibility of closure.

Choose the best font with open areas inside the letters.

Choose the best font for best legibility. If you are set on that extra line of text in your left chest design, be sure you’re choosing a font that has the larger, open apertures like Arial, or Averta fonts.

And as always, we are here to help you make the best design for your customer’s apparel. If you are concerned about close-up in your design, ask one of our customer service reps for help!


Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 3 comments
Garold Dodds

I recently submitted a halftone image for screen printing. I was contacted by a representative from Transfer Express and told it could not be screen printed and would need to be digitally printed. (I have a printer and am able to do that work in house). What kind of artwork do you need for screen printing a halftone image. (I can prepare the heat transfer material with my laser engraver, but it is not consistent and is time consuming).

Dealer Services

To screen print halftones, the art should be 30 DPI. Email us at if you need more clarification. Thanks, Garold!

Katherine West

Please continue with our order.


Leave a Reply: