Once a product and graphics are decided on, Row Apparel combines the two to create a digital mock-up. Digital mock-ups are very close representations of the final product and are sufficient enough to move forward with production on 99% of our projects. To get an exact representation of the final product prior to production, a sample can be provided. Please note that samples will increase the cost and duration of a project. Click here for more info on samples.

Important elements to consider when reviewing a mockup:

  • Sizing

    A mockup depicts how graphics will look on a specified product. For products with multiple sizes (ie: small, medium, large, etc), a mockup will typically be scaled to represent the average size of the order which is referred to as the “mockup size”. Unless requested, when ordering products in sizes smaller or larger then the mockup size, the scale of the graphic does not change in proportion to the product’s size. If you would like the graphic to scale within a specific size range or for all sizes, additional costs will apply.

    The average product size is typically used as the mockup size because it bests represents how the finished product will look on all sizes. The degree of similarity between the mockup and final product will vary based on the product size range. If the size breakdown is comprised of one size, then the mockup will be close to exact. In extreme cases, such as when the majority of sizes are X-Small and there is also X-Larges (size range = XSmall to XLarge), the graphic may be resized to better fit the larger sizes. If there are not enough larger sized products to deem the additional cost of resizing the graphic, then only one sized graphic will be used for all product sizes.

    Graphic sizing is also constrained by the smallest specified product. Should the mockup size be larger than the smallest product size, the graphic can only be as big as the smallest sized product can accommodate unless an additional sized graphic is used.

    The below picture is an example of an extreme case that would most likely call for two graphic sizes; one for XSmall to Medium and one for Large and XLarge.

    Digital Mockup, Graphic Scaling Example

  • Alignment

    The majority of graphics are placed on products relative to a product's pre-defined placement locations. For example, some standard t-shirt locations include the chest, pocket, or sleeve. A graphic will be centered in a placement location unless noted otherwise. In cases where a graphics massing is unbalanced, the graphics center-line can be offset from the placement locations center-line to create the optical allusion that the graphic is centered. Accommodating optical illusions in a non-subjective manner can be done by calculating the graphics center of mass and then using that point to align the graphic with the placement locations center-line.

    Subjectivity comes into play when using the center of mass approach with a graphic that is in close proximity to one or more product landmarks such as seams, logos, buttons, edges, etc. There is no unifying graphic centering strategy to account for this instance, thus the proper alignment is in the eye of the beholder. That said, we go above and beyond to insure that graphics are properly placed and only in rare occasions have to rely on subjective measures. In such cases we will consult the customer for their approval using a digial mockup to visually convey the options.

  • Colors

    A products color and graphics colors work hand-in-hand to achieve an intended look, thus proper color coordination is important and can be gauged using our digital mock-ups. It is important to note the following when reviewing a projects color scheme on a digital mock-up:

    • Color Spectrum Conversion: There are an infinite amount of colors and many color indexing systems, most notably RGB used in digital media and CMYK used in print media. While these two systems work well in their intended applications, they are typically too limiting in the field of apparel and accessory customization.

      The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a standardized, non-digital color reproduction system that allows people in different locations to more accurately coordinate colors without an in person consultation. Furthermore, while RGB uses three colors (red, green, and blue) and CMYK uses four colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ) to produce their spectrums, PMS uses 15 colors (includes white and black) to achieve a far broader spectrum which includes metallic and fluorescent colors.

      There are ways to move between RGB, CMYK, and PMS spectrums using conversion tools that typically come with graphic editing software like Adobe Illustraror and Photoshop. The conversion tools approximations are more accurate when moving between RGB and CMYK then from RGB or CMYK to PMS. There are some standard PMS colors that have accurate RGB and CMYK conversions; however, the majority of PMS colors (ie: metallic and fluorescent) can not be accurately converted to RGB and CMYK.

      All digital mock-ups will have PMS colors specified for use during the production process. In the case where non-standard colors are specified, it is suggested that the customer consults a PMS book or request a color swatch sample to get a better understanding of what the final colors will look like. A digital mock-ups misleading color representation is a result of the inaccurate conversions between color spectrum's, an unfortunate technical restriction created by the different types of media used during the mockup process. For more information please read the following section.

    • Cross Media Compatibility: As explained in the previous section, color spectrums vary based on the media type. Most computer monitors rely on the RGB spectrum and most printers rely on the CMYK spectrum. When moving from a monitor to a printer the color conversion will be approximated as best as possible; however the colors that your printer produces will vary from how they are displayed on the computer monitor. Furthermore, the variance between two monitors displaying the same graphic and or two printers printing the same graphic is dependent on how they are calibrated. If the printers and monitors are placed side-by-side it is possible to calibrate them and achieve a close match; however, such calibration is sometimes impossible especially if the machines are in different locations.

      When dealing with a digital mockup, it is important to note that the colors will be displayed slightly different when moving from computer to computer and computer to printer. Additionally, because PMS is the standard production color spectrum and the conversion from PMS to RGB and CMYK can be inaccurate, it is suggested that a PMS book or color swatch sample be consulted as the colors become more specialized (ie: red, blue, white, black, etc are standard, but custom shades, metallic, and fluorescent are more specialized).

    • Product Color Illusion: Optical illusions, especially those relating to colors are hard to account for as they are very subjective. Take note that the perception of a graphics colors will change as the product color changes. This illusion is most notable when dealing with secondary colors placed on their constituent primary colors. For instance an orange graphic will look more red when placed on a yellow product and more yellow when placed on a red product.

      An illusion is also created when placing a low-saturated (grey tone) colored graphic on two different colored products whose colors fall on either side of the graphics color on the color wheel. The result is that the graphic color will take on a perceived shade closely resembling the products color.

      Additionally, if your graphic is typically viewed on one background color (ie: white website background) and you plan to print it on another color (ie: dark grey shirt), the resulting graphic, although using the exact same colors, will appear to be shades apart from the graphic you are used to seeing.

      When coordinating colors it is important to account for potential illusions that may occur on the final product. We are aware of color illusions and do our best to mitigate their effects; however, the actual illusion may not be fully apparent until the final product is produced.


    • Nonuniform Product Colors: Most products have a specified color that can be easily represented in a digital mock-up such as white, red, blue, etc. Some products however, are composed of multi-blended fabrics or have a special fabric treatment, all of which can result in a non-uniform color pattern. These patterns are typically difficult to recreate in a digital mock-up. When available, we will take a picture of the product’s fabric and superimpose it into the digital mock-up. This will result in a more accurate depiction of the final product; however, there is still the variance between each item within the projects batch to account for; a variable that can not be represented in a digital mock-up.

      When dealing with non-uniform colored products it is important to note that a mock-up will not always accurately capture the products pattern, especially if that pattern varies from one item to another.

    • Value Engineering: When a graphic contains a similar color as the products color it is being printed on, it is suggested that the graphics color be left transparent to allow the products color to show through. This is a good way to reduce a projects cost while maintaining the intended look and quality.

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