How many colours are in my t-shirt design?

Update – if the article below doesn’t help, simply email your design to Neil and he’ll get back to you ASAP with an answer.

If you’re going to be screenprinting your images onto t-shirts, you need to know how many colours are in your t-shirt design. Now that should be straightforward, right? Well, yes and no. Let’s look at a few cases where it’s not quite so simple.

How many colours are in my t-shirt design?

But first, why do we even need to know how many colours there are? Why can’t we just print your shirt, dammit?


Yeah, that’d be nice, but screenprinting isn’t like other types of printing. Printing onto a rough, uneven surface like a t-shirt means we first need to make a template for each colour. Those templates are called screens — pretty much a stencil.


The ink passes through the gaps in the screens to create the print on the shirt. Each colour means a new screen and a new layer of ink. So you can see why it’s cheaper to print t-shirt design with one colour than four colours. Four colours = four screens.


So far, so simple. But there’s some common questions most people have:

  1. Is white a colour?

2. Is black a colour?

Yes — both white and black are colours. We know physics disagrees, but how many physicists do you know running screen printing companies? If it needs to be inked onto a shirt, it’s a colour. Think about it like this — if you have a blue t-shirt, then it makes sense that white is a colour as you’re adding a whole new layer of white ink on a blue background.

3. Can you print my photographic image?blog-post-about-t-shirt-design-from-Ramptshirts

The answer to that one is — it depends on things like shirt colour and the type of artwork. We’ll answer that one in a future blog. In the meantime, just email your design to Neil for a quick analysis.

4. I still don’t know how many colours there are. Can you help me?

Sure — head tothe Ramp T Shirts homepage and hit us up on live chat. We’ll take a look for you.

So to sum up: Every colour needs a separate screen/stencil for the ink to be printed through.

Any questions?

If there’s anything we can do to help, just ask in the LiveChat box, give us a call, or email us. And don’t forget the free checklist below so that you have all the things you need to know before ordering custom t-shirts and more in one quick and easy document.

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