Transparency in DTG printing

Learn how to avoid transparency mistakes in direct-to-garment (DTG) print designs

What’s transparency?

Transparency (often referred to as opacity) is measured by how see-through colors are in a design. We distinguish two types of transparency:


  • Full transparency—completely invisible graphic elements


  • Semi-transparency—somewhat opaque, see-through graphic elements

Get to know the basics

Graphic design with a semi-transparent fade effect on a transparent background and fully opaque pattern.

Why semi-transparency doesn’t work for DTG prints

In DTG printing, all inks are concentrated pigments rather than diluted. This means that all DTG printers will try to make up for the missing information by spreading the ink. The prints will end up with a lot of gaps with a visible white base. This is most evident on dark fabrics.

DTG print of a graphic design with a semi-transparent fade effect.

How to tell if your designs have semi-transparent elements

Open your design in a graphic editor. If the background is peeking through your design, the design is semi-transparent. If you’re using advanced graphic editors (e.g., Adobe Photoshop) that indicate transparency, you can:


  • Unlock the background layer and turn off the layer by clicking the eye icon—if you see the checkered canvas through your design, it’s semi-transparent


  • Duplicate the design layer (use keyboard shortcut Ctrl/Cmd ⌘ + J) and see if the areas in question become more opaque

Transparent designs and DTG printing: what you need to know

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How to get the best results with faded designs

Explore the design file vs. print outcome