The process of converting artwork into a stitch file that can be read by an Embroidery machine.
The digitizer must first analyze the artwork to see if it should be edited for embroidery. We have to understand that not all logos and designs will work for embroidery. There are those that need to be simplified and correctly sized up. There may also be elements in the artwork that will be eliminated, and there will be some that will be altered, like enlarging small text and eliminating outlining.
After finishing up on the modifications on the artwork in the program or software, the digitizer will then edit the design, from start to finish. This is an important process because if the design is not embroidered in the correct sequence, there may be unwanted gaps and uneven text. This process is also a factor on how long the design will be running on the machine during embroidery process. A smoother design made in a shorter time costs less.
The digitizer then assigns stitch types to sections of the design. These will be based on what stitches will best bring out the beauty of the artwork. The underlay stitches will be added first. The underlay stitches should be done correctly because it helps the other remaining stitches have a smooth surface to embroider on. It also adds density to the design. When not done correctly, the stitches will sink into the fabric or allow the shirt fabric to show through the design.
There are only three basic stitch types. These are run, satin, and fill stitches. There are many variations of these stitch types, however. The digitizer will have to decide what variation of the stitch to use, along with the direction of the stitch, where it should start and where it should stop. The digitizer also has to consider the type of fabric that the design will be embroidered on and make more adjustments. There are types or fabrics that may only ruin the design. A logo made for denim, for instance, does not look good when embroidered on fabrics where the stitches tend to sink into the fabric.
There is also what we call the “push and pull” in embroidery digitizing. While being embroidered, a design may move and may cause some of the stitches to shift. This happens when using bulky and rough fabrics, long stitches, large areas of thread and a tight bobbin thread. A digitizer also has to consider the ‘push and pull’ effects and make the necessary adjustments.
Designs with fine detail, small text, and lots of colors obviously needs more set-up time for the digitizer. Time and experience is essential to digitizing, since there are a lot of stitches, fabrics, and factors to consider in the art of embroidery digitizing.