Perfecting Your Tonal Designs: 3 Tips and Tricks for Using Puff Ink

by John Amato

Tonal designs are here to stay, and an excellent way to make them stand out is by giving them a three-dimensional (3D) effect through puff screen printing.

This process involves using puff ink, a screen printing ink that expands and rises when exposed to heat, causing the print to “puff up” on the garment and create a stellar 3D effect that adds texture and depth to any design.

Fun Fact: Puff ink was first introduced in the 1970s and was primarily used in the production of graphic t-shirts.

Since its introduction, puff ink printing has become a popular choice for clothing decorators, who are looking to add an “oomph” factor and character to their designs, so you can stand out from the crowd.

  • Puff creates bold and unique designs: In an industry where competing to stand out is harder than ever, puff is excellent for making statement pieces and for taking a simple tonal design to the next level.
  • Minimum effort but maximum impact: You’ll be surprised at how much wow factor puff adds to even basic block texts across the chest of a sweatshirt or t-shirt. Save the stress of having to create an intricate design for your brand with our puff personalized designs.
  • Puff provides endless possibilities: Puff ink is incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of tonal designs, from logos to graphics and numbers. Whether it’s expressing love and pride for places, or you want to promote your business, you can easily achieve this by adding puff to your customized clothing and accessories.

With years of experience in puff screen printing and embroidery, Jupmode’s team of skilled designers and printers is dedicated to creating unique and high-quality tonal designs that capture your vision. 

Below are our top tips and tricks for using puff ink in tonal designs to create stunning, eye-catching customized clothing and accessories.

1 - For Optimum Puff, Choose the Right Fabrics

Toledo Puff Crew SweatshirtWhen it comes to puff ink printing, one of the most important factors to consider is the fabric you're printing on. 

Think of it this way: a painter won't just begin painting on any surface. They'll first select the canvas that best suits their paints to ensure that the two work properly together.

Similarly, you want to choose the best quality fabric and garment for your tonal design, as this will significantly impact the final result of your puff ink printed apparel. 

The best fabrics for puff ink printing are those that will absorb more ink to ensure that your tonal design stands out without much effort.

Cotton tends to absorb ink more readily than their synthetic counterparts like polyester and rayon, which are typically less porous. Blended fabrics, a combination of cotton, polyester, and rayon, are also effective for pink printing.

For instance, our Midwest Puff Crew Sweatshirt, is made of 80% cotton/20% polyester blend fabric, while the Toledo, Ohio The Glass City Crew Sweatshirt is a super soft sweatshirt made of a tri-blend fabric consisting of polyester, cotton, and rayon.


"I have many items from Jupmode but this is my favorite! Perfect material and color! Buy it. You won’t regret it."
 Anonymous, Verified Buyer, United States

2 - Master Tonal Design Creation With Puff Ink

Midwest Puff Crew Sweatshirt

When creating tonal designs for apparel with puff ink, it's essential to keep in mind the unique properties of this creative printing technique.

Puff ink is categorized under specialty inks, a group of specific print finishes that can be used to add character to garments, make them stand out from the norm, or even add functional value to them, such as reflective inks added to high-visibility clothing.

The process of creating a puff ink printed garment involves the same setups and processes as standard screen printing, only that this technique involves mixing a puff additive with the ink and allows special 3D effects to be applied to your design. 

    Puff ink works best when used for large design elements such as heavy lines, bold texts, and visible shapes. The thicker the lines, the better your design will stand out.

    Below are other additional tips to follow if you want to create stunning, textured tonal designs that will make your custom apparel stand out: 

    • Plan your design: Before creating your artwork, consider the final look you want to achieve. Puff ink is best suited for bold, simple designs that rely on texture to make an impact. 
    • Simplify your design: Puff ink tends to obscure finer details and can make texts harder to read, so it's best to keep your design simple and bold. Limit the use of fine lines and small text and opt for larger, bolder shapes and texts.

    When it comes to fabric colors, we understand that the right color combinations will make your tonal design stand out. 

    One of the most important things to keep in mind with puff ink is that puff ink lightens up when it is cured. 

    This means that if you are trying to achieve a specific color match, we will print a darker ink color to match the color you would like to achieve. Keep in mind, that because of this color shift, it is very difficult to perfectly match colors with puff ink and some allowance it acceptable. 

    At the end of the day, the most important part of a puff print is that it stands out on the garment and catches attention.

    3 - The Impact of Different Garments on Puff Ink

    puff print crew sweatshirt

    One unexpected factor to consider when choosing puff ink for your design is the significance of the garment that you're printing on. 

    This comes into play with the "hand feel" of the design on the garment and the final 3-dimensional look of the puff print. It is more common for us to use puff ink on sweatshirts than t-shirts for both of these reasons.

    As it relates to "hand feel", puff ink is heavier on a garments. It grabs the material differently than standard ink and can even create a pucker effect on lightweight fabrics such as t-shirts. This is less prevalent on sweatshirts because the heavier material withstands the extra weight of the puff print.

    Additionally, the amount a print puffs is related to the thickness of the material you are printing on. A thicker garment generally results in a puffier print. This isn't to say that you can't get great puff results on a t-shirt - it just takes a little extra work.

    So keep these factors in mind when deciding on your final choices for puff print.

    Care For Your Puff Tonal Designs With Jupmode's Expertise

    You Will Do Better In Toledo Puff Print ShirtWhen it comes to custom puff apparel, Jupmode is a one-stop-shop for all your printing and embroidery needs. 

    Our experienced designers and printers have a wealth of tips and tricks to help you care for your puff ink tonal designs so they’ll give you a great service.

    Here are a few insights that will help keep your puff designs in perfect condition:

    • Wash your puff printed garment inside out to preserve the ink and avoid other clothes from damaging the print.
    • Hand wash the garments with cold water or machine wash them at the lowest temperature possible to protect both the fabric and the print from shrinking, fading, and wrinkling.
    • Wash your puff-ink pigment dyed clothes with only like-colored garments. Loose pigments that remain on the clothes’ surface after dyeing may stain light or white colored clothes if washed together.
    • Do not steam or tumble dry the garments, as this kind of heat may alter their puff effect. Instead, air dry the clothes or dry them in the machine on a cool setting.
    • Avoid ironing over the puff print or embroidery as this could damage the print. If ironing is necessary, set the iron to the lowest heat and iron your cloth inside out.

    Purchase Quality Puff Tonal Designs From Jupmode

    At Jupmode, we're passionate about helping our clients bring their visions to life. 

    Our portfolio of custom designs showcases the breadth of our expertise in using puff ink to create unique and visually appealing designs. 

    From custom hats and bags to t-shirts, sweatshirts, and more, we can create puff tonal designs that are sure to turn heads and make a lasting impression.

    And if you want to embrace puff embroidery or puff ink into your next order, reach out to us to get started. We’ll help you bring your brand’s vision to life.

    "Used for company t-shirts. Excellent price, quality, design team, and quick shipping. First time customers, but we'll be back. Thank you, Jupmode."
     Christina P., Verified Buyer, United States.


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