Solved: Mysterious Padding When Uploading Art to Threadless

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Solved: Mysterious Padding When Uploading Art to Threadless
Having issues with white space when uploading art to Threadless? Here's the simple fix, and all it takes is changing your file extension!
Card for blog post about why there is empty space around my Threadless image uploads. Article by JessicaAmber

​I had a issue with uploading my artwork to sell on Threadless, and reached out to their customer support service. What I learned may be known to some of people, but it was new to me, and I want to share it with you so your uploads will look their best. All it takes is changing your file extension!

Introduction

The issue I was having on Threadless was that, for no reason I could discern, the images I was uploading were acting unpredictably in terms of scale and alignment. Let me show you an example. Here is the .png file I was trying to upload:

Design featuring black and yellow argyle, overlaid with a banner that says 'dirty clothes', by JessicaAmber

As you can see, it is a simple rectangle with no transparent space around it. And here is how it looked when placed on Threadless’ laundry bag:

Screenshot of Threadless uploader, where JessicaAmber's artwork on the laundry bag is severely padded

It’s small and centred on the bag. Why? I tried to manually scale it up, and sometimes that scaling would undo itself once I tried to re-edit the product. Needless to say, it was irritating!What made things stranger was that sometimes the images I uploaded would cover the product perfectly, and other times it would be shrunk and centred on the product. 

The Problem Was File Type

I contacted Threadless about this problem, and here is the answer I received from their customer support team via email [bold added by me]:

“The issues you’re running into may depend on the file format your are uploading. PNG files will work for all our products but will have padding added on all sides so they may not cover the entire item. JPG’s created with our set dimensions will print full bleed and cover the entire product without needing to adjust.”
Was that really my problem? Was I just using the wrong file extension? What an easy thing to solve!And it turns out that the Threadless website has a page talking about design placement on non-apparel items, and describes just this issue!:

Comparison of how art looks on a hardcover journal, in PNG format vs JPG format. PNG is padded, JPG covers whole surface

Padding is applied to PNG uploads, but not JPG ones, as long as the file dimensions are right for the product.
“While we allow both kinds of files to be uploaded, the way our system handles each one is a bit different. PNGs are great for clothing because they allow for a transparent background and seamless printing into a garment. On non-apparel items, however, this means that the background color would be dictated by the color you select for the design thumbnail. PNGs are also automatically sized and placed for all non-apparel items.
As you can see on the PNG the image gets resized and placed in the center of the product, no matter if it’s sized correctly or not. With the JPG the design is allowed to cover the entire design.”

Applying the Solution

​Once I uploaded the file again as a JPG, the padding disappeared, and the artwork covered the laundry bag as I intended. Phew!
Here’s how it looked in the Threadless upload screen:

Screenshot of Threadless upload screen, where JessicaAmber's artwork now successfully covers the laundry bag


Conclusion

​I though it was worth bringing this aspect of file preparation to people’s attention because I have been in the habit of reusing a lot of files between multiple print-on-demand websites, especiall Redbubble and Threadless. Redbubble is fine with .PNG files, no matter the dimensions, and never adds padding to them. I would often upload these same .PNGs onto Threadless. For apparel, that’s fine. But now I know how non-apparel files are handled, I’ll have to save my Threadless files as .JPGs instead. Which does mean more space taken up on my hard disk, but considering all the benefits of print-on-demand, that’s not a big deal.Are there any litte tips and tricks you want to share about Threadless? Leave a comment and share your wisdom!

Peace, love and sunshine,

Digital signature by JessicaAmber, that says 'Jessica' with a heart over the i

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