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  • Writer's pictureNick Anscombe

The Ultimate Guide to Printing Custom Skateboard Decks

Introduction

Skateboarding isn't just a sport now recognised by the Olympic committee; it's a lifestyle and a form of self-expression. At the heart of this culture lies the skateboard deck itself—the canvas upon which skateboarders showcase their personality, style, and creativity.



This comprehensive guide delves deep into the art and science of printing custom skateboard decks, offering invaluable insights for both seasoned professionals and newcomers to the industry. Whether you're a brand looking for a new way to get your message across or an artist eager to see your designs come to life on the streets, this guide equips you with the knowledge and resources needed to make an impact.


Throughout this guide, we'll explore the various printing methods available for skateboard decks, delve into the intricacies of designing graphics that capture attention, and provide practical tips for preparing artwork for printing. From selecting the right printing partner to ensuring quality control at every step of the process, we'll equip you with the tools and strategies needed to bring your designs to life.


Table of Contents


Understanding Custom Skateboard Deck Printing

Skateboard deck printing is a blend of artistry and technical expertise, where the right printing method can make or break the quality and durability of the final product. In this section, we'll explore the two primary printing methods available for custom skateboard decks and the factors to consider when choosing the most suitable one for your needs.



Screen Printing

Traditionally, screen printing has been the go-to method for printing skateboard decks. It involves transferring ink through a mesh screen onto the deck, layer by layer, to create the desired design. Screen printing offers vibrant colours and excellent durability, making it a popular choice for high-volume production runs.


Heat Transfer Printing

Heat transfer printing involves applying heat and pressure to transfer a printed design onto the skateboard deck's surface. This method is commonly used for graphics with intricate details or gradients that may be challenging to achieve with screen printing methods. While heat transfer printing offers excellent colour accuracy, it may not be as durable as screen printing in the long run.


Factors to Consider When Choosing a Printing Method

  • Cost: Consider your budget and the cost implications of each printing method, including setup fees, materials, and labour.

  • Durability: Evaluate the durability of the printed graphics, especially in the context of skateboarding's wear and tear.

  • Colour Accuracy: Assess the printing method's ability to reproduce colours accurately and vibrantly, ensuring that your designs look as intended.

  • Complexity of Design: Determine the complexity of your designs and whether the chosen printing method can effectively reproduce intricate details, gradients, and textures.

By understanding the strengths and limitations of each printing method, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your artistic vision, production requirements, and budget constraints. Whether you opt for the timeless appeal of screen printing, the versatility of digital printing, or the precision of heat transfer printing, the choice ultimately boils down to what best suits your unique needs. 


Luckily for you, we have created a useful blog that dives deep into the differences between these two methods and helps you decide which one is best for your brand.



Designing Your Custom Skateboard Graphics

The first step in making custom skateboard decks is, of course, the design. In this section, we'll explore the essential considerations and best practices for designing custom skateboard graphics.



Graphic Design Software Overview

  • Adobe Illustrator: Widely used for vector-based graphic design, Illustrator offers precision and scalability, making it ideal for creating skateboard graphics that can be resized without loss of quality.

  • Adobe Photoshop: Known for its versatility in image editing and manipulation, Photoshop is indispensable for designing complex graphics, applying textures, and adding visual effects to skateboard deck designs.

  • CorelDRAW: Another popular vector graphics editor, CorelDRAW provides powerful tools for creating vector-based artwork and illustrations, offering an alternative to Adobe Illustrator.


Design Considerations for Skateboard Graphics

  • Size and Placement of Graphics: Consider the dimensions of the skateboard deck and the placement of graphics relative to the board's contours, ensuring the design complements the deck's shape and proportions.

  • Colour Selection: Choose a colour palette that reflects your brand identity or artistic vision while ensuring that the colours are vibrant and visually appealing when printed on the skateboard deck.

  • Branding Elements:Incorporate branding elements such as logos, typography, and taglines into the design, establishing a cohesive brand identity that resonates with your target audience.

  • Licensing and Copyright Considerations: Ensure that your design complies with copyright laws and licensing agreements, especially if using copyrighted imagery or collaborating with other brands or artists.

Preparing Artwork for Printing

  • File Formats and Resolution Requirements: Save your artwork in the appropriate file format (e.g., AI, PSD, PDF) and ensure that it meets the resolution requirements for high-quality printing.

  • Vector vs. Raster Graphics: Determine whether your design requires vector-based or raster graphics based on its complexity and scalability needs, opting for vectors for crisp, scalable graphics and raster images for intricate details and textures.

  • Colour Separations for Screen Printing: If using screen printing, prepare colour separations to ensure that each colour layer is accurately reproduced during the printing process.

  • Mockup Creation and Proofing Process: Create mockups of your skateboard deck designs to visualise how they will appear in the final product. Collaborate with your printing partner to review proofs and make any necessary revisions before printing.


By paying attention to these design considerations and following best practices for preparing artwork, you can ensure that your custom skateboard graphics not only look great on screen but also translate seamlessly onto the skateboard deck, captivating audiences and spectators alike with their unique aesthetic appeal.



Custom Skateboard Printing Template

Knowing where to start when designing a custom skateboard graphic can be tricky, we have created our very own custom skateboard online template to assist you in envisioning your designs and translating them effectively to your printing partner.



Need a hand on the best way to complete the template? Check out this blog where we take you through how to populate each section:



Choosing a Printing Partner

Selecting the right printing partner is crucial to the success of your custom skateboard deck. In this section, we'll explore the key factors to consider when choosing a printing company, from researching and evaluating potential partners to fostering effective communication and collaboration throughout the printing process.



Researching Printing Companies

  • Industry Experience: Look for printing companies with a proven track record of producing high-quality skateboard decks and serving clients within the skateboarding industry.

  • Portfolio and Samples: Review the printing company's portfolio and request samples of their previous work to assess the quality of their printing capabilities and the fidelity of their colour reproduction.


Evaluating Printing Quality and Capabilities

  • Printing Methods: Determine whether the printing company offers printing methods that align with your design requirements and production preferences, such as screen printing or heat transfer printing.

  • Quality Control Processes: Inquire about the printing company's quality control processes and certifications to ensure that your skateboard decks meet stringent quality standards and durability requirements.


Communication and Collaboration

  • Accessibility and Responsiveness: Choose a printing partner that values open communication and is responsive to your inquiries, concerns, and feedback throughout the printing process.

  • Collaborative Approach: Seek a printing company that fosters a collaborative approach to printing, involving you in decision-making processes and offering guidance and expertise to enhance the outcome of your skateboard deck designs.


Pricing and Turnaround Time Considerations

  • Cost Structure: Compare pricing structures among different printing companies, considering factors such as setup fees, printing costs per deck, and any additional services or options offered.

  • Turnaround Time: Assess the printing company's turnaround time for producing and delivering skateboard decks, ensuring they can meet your deadlines and production schedule without compromising on quality.


By conducting thorough research, evaluating printing quality and capabilities, fostering effective communication and collaboration, and considering pricing and turnaround time considerations, you can confidently choose a printing partner that meets your specific needs and helps bring your custom skateboard deck designs to life with precision, quality, and efficiency.



At Back & Forth Prints, our commitment to excellence in quality, communication, and efficiency has earned us the privilege of collaborating with a diverse portfolio of global brands and supplying custom skateboard decks to some of the industry's top professionals.


If you're interested in learning more about our bespoke skateboard printing services or have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're here to help!


Custom Skateboard Printing Process: Step-by-Step

Every custom skateboard printer will have a different process for turning your designs into reality. In this section, we will walk you through how Back & Forth Prints handles your orders, from artwork approval to fulfilment.


Artwork Feedback

Once we have received your artwork using the custom skateboard printing template, we will reach back out to you with any questions we have about your design. At this point, for skateboard deck printing, we will typically offer you the option of screen printing or applying via a heat transfer. We will provide two separate quotes for each method, as well as a recommended quantity for both depending on your budget.


Artwork Approval and Preparation

Once you are satisfied with the artwork, colours, and printing method, we will then proceed with the project from our side. If this is a screen printing project, it involves making the positives by separating all the colours and adding registration marks to ensure they align when printing multiple layers.


Printing

Then comes the fun part - printing. Once everything is completed from an artwork perspective, we print out each layer onto film, expose all the screens needed, and begin printing your desired designs onto your skateboard decks.


If you want to see how it’s all coming along, you can visit our studio by appointment. Bear in mind that, due to us being involved in the printing process, we typically cannot take any photos or videos of us printing the products for your brand’s social media. However, if you want to send a videographer or photographer to take some photos or footage, we are happy to accommodate them provided you book an appointment.


Fulfilment

We aim to complete all orders within 10 working days. We will notify you once your project is complete and can send you some photos of the finished product. We can send out your products via APC next-day delivery, or you can come and collect them from the studio.


Case Studies and Success Stories

At Back & Forth Print, we pride ourselves on numerous success stories, showcasing our commitment to delivering high-quality custom skateboard printing for global skateboarding brands and skate shops alike. Below, we've highlighted some of our favourite projects from recent years.



NJ Skateshop X Clown Skateboards With Brian Anderson

We printed a limited run of 30 numbered skateboards to celebrate 20 years of NJ Skateshop. Teaming up with Clown Skateboards, each board features artwork by legendary professional skateboarder, Brian Anderson. Signed by Brian himself at NJ Skateshop in New Jersey, these boards are a true testament to our dedication to professional standard quality and collaboration. Read more about the project here.



Skateboard GB X Samsung Complete Promo Skateboards

As part of #DropInWithSamsung, we printed and assembled complete skateboards for the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5, urging everyone to take the plunge into skating. With UV digital transferred graphics and Fracture undercarriage kits, these boards were given out to beginner skaters at an event at Bay66 in London. Read more about the project here.



Brinkworth x E.Pellicci Custom Skateboard Decks

We printed the Pellicci Family Deck Series, a tribute to the iconic East London institution established in 1900 and still thriving under family stewardship. Featuring monochrome portraits of Nevio Snr, Mamma Maria, Nev, Anna, and Tony, each deck boasts hand-screened white graphics on a sleek black gloss flood. Read more about the project here.



Tom Penny's Cheech and Chong Skateboard Deck Reissue

We were honoured to screen-print this iconic 1990s graphic, featuring Bernie Tostenson's artwork inspired by the legendary Cheech and Chong comedy duo. Over the years, it's been reissued with diverse backgrounds, remaining a top seller for Flip since '96. Read more about the project here.



Ali "Banana" Flip Skateboard Deck Reissue

We resurrected the legendary Ali 'Banana' graphic, born from a whimsical moment at Tom Penny's chateau in France. Conceptualised by Flip's artist, Daniel Dunphy, this quirky design features a banana sporting a leather jacket. The 8.1" classic shape deck boasts a hand-screen-printed design, meticulously crafted using original films and colour separations. Read more about the project here.


Conclusion


Key Points

In this guide, we've delved deep into the art and science of bringing your printing custom skateboard designs to reality. From understanding the various printing methods available to designing eye-catching graphics and choosing the right printing partner, here's a quick recap of the key points covered:


  1. Understanding Custom Skateboard Deck Printing: Explored the different printing methods available, including screen printing and heat transfer printing, and the factors to consider when choosing the most suitable method.

  2. Designing Custom Skateboard Graphics: Discussed essential considerations and best practices for designing graphics that stand out, covering aspects such as software, graphic design principles, and preparing artwork for printing.

  3. Choosing a Printing Partner: Explored the crucial factors to consider when selecting a printing company, including researching companies, evaluating printing quality, fostering communication and collaboration, and considering pricing and turnaround time.

  4. Custom Skateboard Printing Process Step-by-Step: Provided an overview of the printing process, from artwork approval to fulfilment, highlighting the steps involved in bringing your designs to life.

  5. Case Studies and Success Stories: Showcased success stories from Back & Forth Prints, illustrating the high-quality custom skateboard printing we’ve provided for global skateboarding brands.


Final thoughts and resources

Whether you're a budding artist looking for your next canvas or an established brand looking for a new way to connect with an audience, the world of custom skateboard printing offers endless opportunities for creativity. Stay curious, stay inspired, and never hesitate to seek out new knowledge and resources to enhance your skills.


For further information and inspiration, consider checking out our blog or signing up for our monthly newsletter where we share useful insights and case studies.



Ready to start your next project?

Back & Forth Prints is a Dorset-based custom skateboard and screen printer. We work with a vast portfolio of global and local brands, printing professional standard skateboards, garments and more for some of the world's most recognised companies and professional skateboarders. 


If you want to learn more about our services or have any questions, get in touch here. 

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