Direct to Film and WHAT? DTF Mixed Media

direct to film and what dtf mixed media all american print supply co

"Mixing one's wines may be a mistake, but old and new wisdom mix admirably." 

― Bertolt Brecht

A trend we have started to see rising in popularity is MIXED MEDIA PRINTING. Combining multiple methods to decorate a single garment can really give an extra dimension to one standalone technique. But where do we start? 

Direct to film being such a versatile and forgiving route to go, let’s start there. At the recent Printing United trade show in Atlanta, Georgia, we got the opportunity to do just that. Our combined methods of choice presented an interesting paradox. DTF stands currently as the most cutting-edge form of garment decorating available on the market today. Heat transfer vinyl, for many in our industry, is the first step into making custom apparel, and for our project, we combined this entry-level method to add some depth to the state-of-the-art DTF printing process.

The two main types of heat transfer vinyl that come to mind to add value to direct to film printing are going to be Brick and Puff. These two, in particular, stand out because when properly applied, they are literally a three-dimensional option for making custom clothing. Unlike direct to film, which lays flat on the material, these options will physically stand taller on the garment being created. Brick, for example, is a whopping 600 microns thick (over half a millimeter), and when applied, it adds a single color layer of design that is simply not achievable with direct to film. Commonly used by luxury streetwear brands and crafters alike, if you still have your vinyl cutter, this is one material that is definitely worth experimenting with. Recommended usages will be areas in the original design that would benefit from a little extra emphasis, things like text, lines, shapes, or numbers come to mind, but if you can cut it, you can brick it. SO TRY IT.

For our application, we decided to go with PUFF vinyl. Puff decorating has been available for some time at the screen print level, but did you know it can be cut, weeded, and applied just like regular HTV? The settings are very specific to activate the puff effect, but when done properly, it can really give a high-end look and feel to any design. I feel like on a regular basis, I am seeing social media advertisements for brands that use heat transfer graphics, and the puff appearance really looks pro-grade. Just like with Brick, Puff can be applied to really highlight certain parts of designs, such as text, shapes, numbers, lines, and more. Now what would be the best way to combine this with direct to film?

As a general rule of thumb, we would always want to apply the direct to film transfer first - our mixed media applications may not be as forgiving to a second press the way DTF is, so apply that DTF transfer firstly to establish a base layer that we will be adding to on top of. For Puff, a specific time/temperature/pressure is needed to achieve our desired effect, so be sure to test first and dial in those settings to YOUR heat press. Once you have your DTF base layer applied and your testing complete, heat transfer Puff vinyl can really separate your work from the competition. Take a look at this full demo video to see the whole process from start to finish.

Meet our author

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Estevan Romero

Brand Marketing Lead

Esteven Romero began making YouTube videos back in 2017 to help new business owners learn how to use their products and grow their operation.


He has been featured in many companies content such as Siser North America, Key Print Co and more. He has been featured as a speaker/presenter nationwide across the tradeshow circuit sharing information and insight to the print community audience and brings 13+ years of experience to the table.

You can meet Estevan and more of the friendly All American Print Supply Co team by visiting the company live events calendar and our YouTube channel.

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