How to preview designs on your computer screen


In digital design the colors will never look the same on a computer screen compared to when printed on fabric, paper or a wallpaper. That is why we recommend that you order swatches of your designs before you order larger quantities.

But there are some tools that can help you predict the result of your designs when it comes to size and color. In this lesson you will learn some of these tools.


Preview the design size

In Photoshop you have the possibility to preview your designs on screen in its real size. This will come in handy when you have designed a pattern and you would like to know how the size of your design elements like hearts, flower etc will be on print.

You have a feature in Photoshop to make sure that what is shown onscreen is the real size when the file is printed.

If you go to the menu ViewPrint Size, this will give you a certain impression of the proportions in your image.

But it some cases this preview will differ from how the real print comes out. There are two reasons for this. A default setting in Photoshop is that images are shown in a resolution of 72 ppi, even though most computer screens have a higher resolution. The other reason is that different computer screens can show the same resolution in different ways. So you have to find out how your screen shows a given resolution.

To control and adjust your screen, you can do the following:


1 Open a new document in Photoshop with a resolution of 300 ppi and the size 8 inches x 8 inches.


2 From the menu View select Print Size.


3 Use a measure tape or a ruler to measure your image directly onscreen. If you have a flat screen be careful so your measuring tape don’t make any scratches to your screen.

Most likely your image will measure to be a bit smaller then 8 inches.

If you only have centimeters on your measure tape, divide your measured number with 2,5 to have the length in inches.


4 Divide 8 inches with the number your get when measuring your screen and you will have a correction factor. The correction factor will vary from screen to screen.

In my case the image measured 6,7 inches and I have a correction factor of 8/6,7 = 1,2


5 When you have your correction factor, go to the menu in Photoshop EditPreferencesUnits & Rulers where your will find your Screen Resolution. Most likely it is set to 72 ppi.

Multiply 72 with your correction factor and put this number in the Screen Resolution field. In my case this was 72 x 1,20 = 86,4. Then click ok.



6 When this is done, Photoshop will show you the real size of your image when you use the command ViewPrint Size.

You can of course double check to make sure you have done this procedure right by control measuring the image on the computer screen.
Units and rulers



Preview colors

One of the challenges when it comes to digital design and printing on fabric, is that the colors you use in your designs on screen will not appear the same when printed on fabric or paper. Fabric reflects light in a completely different way compared to a computer screen, so a bright and clear colors on screen will most of the time become duller and less colorful when printed on a fabric.

The best way to get control over how your colors will appear when printed on fabric, is to buy a color map from the fabric printing service you will be using. At fabric printing companies like Spoonflower you can print large color maps on 1 yard of fabric with loads of colors squares with corresponding hex codes.


Color map 4


Color map section



The hex code can be entered in Photoshop’s Color Picker, and when you design with a known color codes you will have better control with your end result.

Color picker color map



Because different types of fabric will print the same hex code with a slightly different results, you should consider order different color maps for the different fabric types you use the most.
ICC profiles

Even though color maps will give you the most precise result, you can also use digital tools to simulate the onscreen colors in Photoshop with the colors on print.

To make the screen colors become as close to the printed colors as possible, you can download so called ICC profiles.

For instance Spoonflower has their own ICC files for different types of fabric. The ICC profiles can be downloaded for free from Spoonflower’s webpage to be installed in Photoshop. There is one ICC file per fabric type, but Spoonflower recommend that you download their complete ICC profile package for all of their fabrics.


This is how you can install ICC files:


1 Download the ICC profile package. Unzip the file with your unzip program.

Download ICC profiles


2 Make sure Photoshop is closed.

Then move all the profile files to the following file to your PC:

WindowsSystem32 SpoolDriversColor


On a Mac ICC profiles can be saved in two locations:

If you have admin access, save it to: HD →  Library →  ColorSync →  Profiles.

If you do not have admin access save it to: Users → Library →  ColorSync → Profiles

Place ICC profiles
3 To use the ICC profiles, now open Photoshop and open one of your design images.


4 Then go to the Photoshop menu ViewProof SetupCustom

Customize proof condition


Under Device to Simulate from the drop down menu, choose the Spoonflower fabric type you want to preview your design on. Under Rendering Intent choose Relative Colorimetric. Make sure Black Point Compensation is ticked.

If you also make sure the Preview box is ticked, you will see that the colors in your image change and you have a color adjustment that simulates the end result printed on the Spoonflower fabric. Most of the time you will see that colors will become duller and less colorful. So when you design in Photoshop for fabric printing, you must make sure your choose bright and strong colors onscreen to have your wanted end result.

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