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What is an underbase?

To those in the apparel industry, the term "underbase" is something you hear almost every day. It's an essential tenchnique in our industry for producing quality prints on apparel.

However, to those new to apparel, the term can be confusing, and leave you wondering why it's necessary for your project.

What is an underbase?

In a nutshell, an underbase is a layer of very opaque ink (typically in white) that is printed on the garment before other colours are printed. A similar idea to that of a base primer on the walls of your home. You apply the primer before applying the final colour.

Why use an underbase?

Colour Vibrancy
Printing a white underbase ensures an overall vibrancy of the print.

Colour Accuracy
Printing on top of an underbase helps eliminate the possibility of the shirt colour poking through, or muting the tones of the top colours.

Smoothness of Print
An underbase reduces fibrillation, creating a smooth surface for the ink to sit on.

Why not to use an underbase?

If you’re looking for a classic, worn, vintage look, then no underbase is the route for you. However, the trade off, is that this approach leads to less colour accuracy and vibrancy. Here’s an example of an underbase being used in a two colour print:
The red in the rose jumps off the shirt, whereas it may have appeared more bland without this base of white to support it.

To further illustrate, here’s a side by side comparison of underbase vs. no underbase, printed on the same garment:
When you use an under base (the right side of the image), the colours are very vibrant. Without it, the design can lose some of its impact and appear faded on the garment.

An under base may sound subtle when it’s described, but once you see it translated onto a t-shirt, the difference is very noticeable.

Talk to one of our Witly reps today to determine whether you need or want an underbase on your run.

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