HOW CUSTOM SKATEBOARD DECKS ARE PRINTED:

The industry standard for printing custom skateboards is a process known as heat transfer printing. Point along with the majority of custom skateboard manufacturers use this process, which involves screen printing ink and/or digital printing ink in reverse order on carrier sheets of thin plastic. The sheets are then aligned to the deck and run through a heated silicone roller machine that transfers the ink and forms a chemical bond to the decks. This allows for a high quality print on the curved bottom (or top) of a skateboard deck. Point still direct screen prints some custom skateboard decks but we reserve this for small and less detailed prints (this method is less consistent).

WHAT SOFTWARE/FILE TYPES TO USE?

Point Distribution recommends using the print industry standard software Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop. If the design allows it we recommend vector files made in Illustrator. Vector graphics have the ability to be scaled larger without a loss in resolution. It is recommended that all spot color graphics be created in vector based programs to ensure the highest quality print.
In some cases it is necessary to use a ‘raster‘ based graphic created in Adobe Photoshop. The benefit of using a raster based program is the ability to reproduce photorealistic and other high detail images. All raster files should be submitted in the CMYK color space as RGB has a wider color gamut than is printable.

DIGITAL PRINTING

This newer print method has a lot of advantages: the ability to approximate 300dpi in the final print and even some spot colors can be closely Pantone Solid Coated matched. With no set-up fees, incredible detail reproduction, and the ability for ‘one off samples’ digital has become the most popular print method for custom skateboard decks.

SPOT COLOR PRINTING

This method has been used for many years. Each color in the graphic is made into a screen. Ink is mixed to match the color. This method matches colors the best.

HOW TO ACCURATELY REPRODUCE COLOR:

What you see on your monitor is not what you will see printed on a deck. Therefore it takes extra care to accurately match a color in a graphic. The company PANTONE was invented just for this reason. The Pantone Matching System is regarded as the industry standard for communicating color. ‘Pantone Books’ and specifically the ‘Pantone Solid Coated’ swatch book are used for accurately communicating colors from the graphic designer to the printer. When building spot color graphics use the ‘Pantone Solid Coated’ swatch book and if you are using Photoshop to create a spot color graphic please name your layers accordingly. Furthermore you should rely on your pantone book for choosing colors and use the Pantone swatches in Photoshop or Illustrator merely for communicating the colors. All graphics created without using these swatches will be converted to the closest Pantone equivalent.

The swatch book on the left is the actual Pantone swatch book we use here at Point Distribution. The benefit of the color bridge is it offers the Solid Coated Pantone alongside its CMYK equivalent, we recommend having an actual Pantone book. The image on the right is an example of the Pantone Solid Coated swatch library within Illustrator and Photoshop. Please note just using the Pantone swatch library in Illustrator and Photoshop will not give you 100% accurate color. Computer monitors reproduce colors in RGB with backlighting.

Pantone swatch book for matching colors in skateboard printingPantone swatches from within Adobe Illustrator

MORE QUESTIONS

Please see the artwork page for more info. Skateboard printing has never been more complex than it is today. Even experienced print professionals can get confused by all of the different print methods so don’t hesitate to contact a Point sales rep.