How To Print Tone on Tone T-Shirts | Screen Print Transfers & Heat Press
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Hey Friends, Dave here with Transfer Express, and today we’re going to be covering a popular trend that you see year after year… tone on tone prints!
Also known as tonal prints, tone on tone printing is essentially printing your artwork in the same or similar color- maybe just a shade or two darker than the fabric of your garments. It seems to constantly be trending everywhere you look from retail shelves to Etsy because of its faded, vintage or retro look.
I personally love it for its minimal, subtle aesthetic that works for almost any use from restaurants, streetwear, promo apparel, schools, clothing brands, sportswear and pretty much any business. But enough talking about it, today I want to show you how you can achieve some absolutely stellar results using screen printed and digital heat transfers.
Ready? Let’s ink it up.
Now, to crush our tone on tone prints there’s two things we’re going to need: a Color Selector swatch book or a Pantone book aaaaannnnnd the shirt we’re going to be printing on.
I always advise to not match the colors in the online product photos. It’s best to have the actual garment to try to match to. This is really important if you’re trying to do a super subtle black-on-black print where you’re trying to have the print visible only by the difference in finish of the inks or the fabric.
So we have one of my favorite blank tees here, the District DT104 perfect weight tee. This is the Clean Denim colorway. A nice muted, vintage looking light blue, on a premium feel garment without a premium price. These are great blanks for a more fashion forward fit, and they have a removable label, perfect for branding with your own inside tag prints.
Since we’ll be using the Goof Proof screen printed transfers from Transfer Express, we’ve got our Color Selector swatch book here with the 70+ standard ink colors available to use. Since the vast majority of tone on tone prints are single color, Goof Proof is going to be the best option, not only for price, but for that real-deal screen print feel.
Goof Proof is printed using real plastisol ink so it has great stretch, rebound and durability. Our ink formula emulates a soft-hand screen print. It sits into the fibers of the t-shirt for a retail-ready, long lasting print. Here in the Color Selector we can see the first page of blues, the denim is a close match to the garment, but looks like it may blend in too much, so we’ll go over to the darker blues. Here, royal is a nice fit but a little bit too saturated for this faded blue color of the garment, so let’s use midnight navy- a darker shade than the garment but still in our blue family.
Once we’re happy with our color pick, we’ll order our transfers. Using Easy View online designer, we can easily recolor our artwork using these ink swatches on the left hand side here in our edit panel.
Then, when our transfers arrive its time to press! We packed two full-size designs here on this sheet along with some inside tags, and a smaller left chest print.
You may notice we used this one here in our heat printing for beginners video. If you’re brand new to heat printing, you should definitely check that one out. We didn’t print tone on tone in that video though. This midnight navy ink looks great on any lighter colored garments like white or even natural.
Since we do have an inside tag we want to print today, we’ll be using the Tag Along™ platen to make it super easy. We’ll be doing three total locations: this small made in the USA graphic on the left chest, that inside tag I mentioned, and the full size graphic with the eagle right on the back.
When we’re cutting these graphics out of our gang sheet, I want to mention we’re actually going to remove the made in the USA from the tag, because these shirts are made in India. We planned to try the volunteer knitwear made in the USA blanks, but couldn’t get them in time. Regardless, we can just cut out this bottom part of the tag design and then, the one thing I LOVE about these district tags is you can remove the brand label while keeping the size, fabric make up and country of origin. No harm, and we’re still satisfying those legal requirements for properly relabeling garments.
Alright, now that we’re ready to press, we have our Hotronix Auto Clam set to 365 degrees, with a press time of just 4 seconds, and a medium to firm pressure, or around a 7 or 8, on the pressure gauge.
We'll show 3 locations: left chest, tag print, and a back print.
When I say easy, I meant easy. You can see just how quickly we printed all 3 locations here with just a couple presses. And now we have a retail-ready shirt ready to go!
Screen printed transfers are just phenomenal! You get the same look, feel and washability as a traditional screen print, all without the hassle and messy clean up. And talk about time savings, too!
Have some tone-on-tone printing advice of your own? Questions or maybe suggestions for an upcoming video? Let us know!
Also worth a mention - free samples. We used our most popular transfer type today: Goof Proof screen printed transfers, but If you haven’t tried those or any of the different heat transfers we produce, we’d love to send you some free samples.
No credit card needed - all you have to do is register for an account so we know where to send these samples to!
Here at Transfer Express, we’re always happy to share heat printing tips, tricks, inspiration and how to videos, not just on printing t-shirts but marketing your brand, too! Be sure you’re subscribed to our YouTube channel to stay up to date with the videos that we’re dropping every single week!
Until then, I'm Dave, happy pressing!