Wonders of Direct to Film Transfers: Step-by-Step DTF Transfer Gang Sheet Tutorial Using Illustrator

Wonders of Direct to Film Transfers: Step-by-Step DTF Transfer Gang Sheet Tutorial Using Illustrator

Wonders of Direct to Film Transfers: Step-by-Step DTF Transfer Gang Sheet Tutorial Using Illustrator

Introduction to Gang Sheets and DTF Printing

Gang sheets are essential in DTF (Direct to Film) printing, allowing you to maximize print space by tiling multiple images on a single sheet. This method is perfect for efficiently using every square inch of your print area, ensuring minimal waste. In this tutorial, we'll guide you through creating a gang sheet using Adobe Photoshop, complete with tips and tricks to make the process smoother.

Organizing Your Files for Your DTF Transfer

Start by organizing your files. Open your graphic in Photoshop and trim any transparent borders by navigating to Image > Trim. Resize your image to the desired dimensions, ensuring the aspect ratio is maintained. For example, if you resize the width to 10 inches, the height will adjust proportionally. Save and rename your file for easy identification.

Setting Up Your Direct-to-Film Gang Sheet

Create a new file for your gang sheet. Set the dimensions to 22 inches in width and up to 100 inches in height, with a resolution of 300 DPI. Change the color mode to CMYK and select a white background for better visibility. Remember to delete the background layer before printing to avoid any unwanted white areas.

Adding and Arranging Images

Import your images into the gang sheet. Use the grid feature in Photoshop to maintain consistent spacing. Go to View > Show > Grid and adjust the grid settings under Edit > Preferences > Guides, Grid & Slices. Set the gridline every 0.4 inches to ensure enough space for cutting between images.

Duplicating and Aligning Images for your Custom Transfers

To duplicate an image, select the layer, hold Alt, and drag the image while holding Shift to keep it aligned. Use Ctrl + J to create a new layer for each duplicate. Align your images using the grid and the Move Tool with Auto-Select enabled for easier manipulation.

Rasterizing Text Layers

If your design includes text, rasterize the text layers to avoid font issues during printing. Right-click the text layer and select Rasterize Layer. This step ensures the text appears correctly even if the font is not available on the printing system.

Final Adjustments and Exporting

Once all images are arranged, hide the background layer and trim any excess transparent space. Use Image > Trim and select the transparent pixels option. Double-check for any overlapping graphics and make final adjustments as needed. Export your gang sheet as a high-quality PDF, ensuring the resolution is set to 300 DPI.

FAQs: Benefits of DTF Transfers

What is Direct-to-Film Printing

Direct-to-Film (DTF) printing is an innovative printing method that transfers detailed designs onto fabrics using a specialized film. This process involves printing a design onto a PET film using DTF inks, which include white ink as a base layer. After printing, a hot melt adhesive powder is applied to the wet ink, which is then cured to solidify the adhesive. The prepared film is placed onto the fabric, and a heat press is used to transfer the design from the film to the fabric. This method is known for its versatility, allowing high-quality, vibrant prints on a wide variety of materials, including cotton, polyester, and blends. DTF printing stands out for its ability to produce durable prints with fine details and a soft feel, making it popular for custom apparel, promotional items, and other textile products.

What are some Direct to Film DTF Printers

Here are some of the Direct to Film printers we have encountered in our business:

  • Mimaki TXF-300: The Mimaki TXF-300 features a dual head with DX7 print head, offering exceptional print quality and high performance. It is ideal for both seasoned professionals and beginners in DTF printing. It can be purchased from DTF Superstore and Flash Printing Depot.

  • DSV L1800 DTF Printer: The DSV L1800 simplifies the printing process with a roll feeder and automatic heat station. It maintains ink flow with a white ink circulation system but is compatible only with Windows OS and has a challenging initial software setup. This printer is ideal for small businesses looking for efficiency and user-friendly operation.

  • PUNEHOD A3 DTF Printer: Compact and cost-effective, the PUNEHOD A3 is suitable for small-scale production. While it has slower print speeds compared to larger models, it is perfect for beginners and small businesses with limited space and budget.

  • STS Mutoh VJ-628D DTF Printer + Adhesive Powder Shaker Package Pro: This printer offers high-volume printing with an automated powder shaker and dryer, along with user-friendly software. It is perfect for high-volume DTF printing businesses seeking a comprehensive solution.

    These printers cater to various needs, from beginners and small businesses to high-volume production environments, ensuring options for efficiency, quality, and budget considerations.


How to Print DTF Transfers

Printing DTF (Direct-to-Film) transfers involves a few key steps to achieve high-quality results. First, create or select a high-resolution design using graphic design software. Print the design in mirror image on a special PET film using a DTF printer equipped with CMYK and white inks. Immediately after printing, apply a hot melt adhesive powder to the wet ink, ensuring an even coating. Shake off the excess powder and cure the film in a heat press or curing oven, typically at 160-170°C for 2-3 minutes. Once cured, place the film with the design face down on the preheated fabric and press at around 160-170°C for 15-20 seconds. Allow the film to cool completely before peeling it off to reveal the transferred design. Optionally, perform a post-press with a parchment or Teflon sheet for added durability. This process ensures vibrant, durable prints suitable for various fabrics.


Creating a gang sheet for DTF printing in Photoshop is a straightforward process that maximizes your print area and ensures efficient use of materials. By following these steps, you can produce high-quality, vibrant prints ready for heat transfer. Happy printing!

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