What is Digitizing?
Digitizing is the process of converting artwork into a stitch file that can be read by an embroidery machine.
Preparing Artwork for Embroidery Digitizing
The first step in digitizing is editing or modifying the artwork in a graphics program. Then, the file is opened in digitizing software where it is used as a template for creating the stitch file. The digitizer must decide the sequence of stitches from start to finish which affects how an embroidered design will “lie” and how long the design will run on the machine during the embroidery process.
Assigning Stitch Types/Push and Pull
The digitizer assigns stitch types to each section of the design based on what stitches will best represent the artwork. First, an underlay is added to stabilize the fabric, lay down the nap of the fabric and add density to the design. There are only three basic stitch types (run, satin and fill) but there are variations of each of these. Fill stitches are used to cover large areas, but, the digitizer must decide what type of fill stitch to use, the direction and where it should start and stop. A design may move while being embroidered which will cause some stitches to shift. This can occur when using bulky fabrics, long stitches, large areas of thread and a tight bobbin thread. The digitizer must account for the possible effects of push and pull on a design and make adjustments to compensate. He/she must also consider what type of fabric the design will be embroidered on, the stitching order and set trim commands. Designs that were digitized for denim won’t look as good when stitched onto polar fleece where the stitches sink into the fabric.
Embroidery Sew-Out & Design Testing
After a design is digitized to an embroidery format, it is tested to see how it stitches out. Any imperfections are fixed and it is tested again. A digitizer is a highly skilled artist who has honed his/her craft through many years of experience. While some designs are fairly easy to digitize, those with fine detail, small text and lots of color changes require more set-up time. Digitizing is a careful process that requires time and experience to be performed correctly. The digitizer must know how the stitches he sees in his embroidery software will embroider on different fabrics. A well digitized design will enhance your garment, so it is important to have an embroiderer who provides quality digitizing.
Here is a step-by-step slide show on how digitizing is done (courtesy of Taunton Press)