I have a heart graphic I am working with in Adobe illustrator. It has transparent properties in it and looks to be mainly made up of mesh layers.

I keep finding transparency in illustrator a challenge. This heart graphic is transparent but when you remove the background you can see the mesh transparent parts as "black".

This particular design will go on a promotional t-shirt. But if i want to export it as a png, or if i sent this file to the printers like this with the black background parts.. Is that normal? How do i do so without the black part showing?

I included some pics below to give you a better idea.

Thanks for any help!

enter image description here enter image description here

  • Is it actually transparent or have you applied a blending mode to the meshes? Actual transparency shouldn't be an issue. However, blending modes rely on underlying objects for appearance.
    – Scott
    Sep 15, 2017 at 9:11
  • Without knowing how you intend to print this, it's difficult to make any suggestions. I suggest you ask your printer what they need from you. Generally PNG images are pretty useless for printing, so that probably isn't the answer.
    – Billy Kerr
    Sep 15, 2017 at 10:28

1 Answer 1


This kind of image probably must be rasterized before printing onto a cloth. It's too complex to be silk screened or plotted.

Obviously you want the cloth to be visible just like the blue was in your first image. The clouds are wanted as partially transparent white on the canvas.

My suggestion:

Ask, does the print process accept partial transparency to make the cloth partially visible and what is the right file format to deliver the image with transparency

Let's assume the right format is a PNG24 with alpha. Be sure that you also know the pixel dimensions.

=> Make a full white image with the wanted pixel dimensions. Extend the black to cover fully the white area. Use your black-white shape as the opacity mask or alpha channel. Export as PNG with no background.

Chek the transparency in a raster image editor before sending to the printer

It's possible that you must use some own half-toning to create the illusion of the transparency. The printer surely tells, if you ask.

NOTE: Nothing replaces the asking, so at first contact to the printer and get the proper data.

How to make a file

If you want to make a file in Photoshop, you probably do not want to delete the black areas and print the rest, because the non-whiteness should be partially transparent white. No grey areas are wanted. This is true assuming your blue image to be the wanted result on blue canvas.

  1. Make an empty RGB image with the wanted pixel dimensions

  2. Place your shapes (sorry, I have only the screenshot with your mesh) as pixels, fill the empty area with black. Now you have:

enter image description here

  1. Make a white layer, copy the BW layer to the layer mask of the white layer, create below all a colored test layer which simulates the canvas. Hide the original BW layer. Then you have:

enter image description here

You might want to edit the edges and the general contrast of the transparency. You can brush a little more black or white to the mask of the white layer. You can also select the layer mask icon and adjust the curves. That affects radically on the steepness of the transparency:

enter image description here

When you are happy, hide all other layers but the white one with the layer mask and save as PNG.

Test the transparency opening the PNG.

NOTE: the need of the PNG is not sure before asking. As well the printer can want a PDF, SVG or an Ai file.

In vector domain you also should get rid of the black. Unfortunately I haven't the vector version and there are nothing visible of the used blending and transparency modes so I cannot give any receipe.

  • To make the png I would just import a giant version into photoshop and remove the black.. I know everything about photoshop.. Everyones just sending around vectors so i thought thats what im suppose to do
    – Patrick
    Sep 15, 2017 at 8:02
  • @PortalP you do understand that the printers dirver will just make it a bitmap anyway, graned its specifically suited for that printers built in resolution. If you KNOW the system well tehn you can get allmost nearly the same thing if you do the same resolution... But hard to knwo the exact offset
    – joojaa
    Sep 15, 2017 at 8:11
  • I appreciate your effort into this answer. I will play with it again later today. Thanks so much!
    – Patrick
    Sep 17, 2017 at 9:16

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