How To Make Awesome T-Shirt Designs

How To Make An Awesome T-Shirt Design
it takes a lot of creativity and attention to details to create a t-shirt design that has a lasting impact. To make this feat easier for you, we breakdown the things you need to consider when coming up with a design.
it takes a lot of creativity and attention to details to create a t-shirt design that has a lasting impact. To make this feat easier for you, we breakdown the things you need to consider when coming up with a design.

Making shirt designs is something almost everyone wants to try at least once in their lives and unlike what most people think, it actually isn’t as hard as some people might exaggerate it to be.

Of course, there is still work that needs to be done in order to come up with a good design like everything else but the good part is, the results really depend on how much work you are willing to put in.

This doesn’t mean that putting in the most effort would automatically come up with a good design.

Depending on the purpose of the T-shirt, the designing process can really differ.

Most of the time, people make designs for professional or business use but every once in a while, some people make T-shirt designs just for fun!

t shirt with star design with wood tiles on the background

There’s a certain joy in being able to wear something that you’ve made yourself no matter how simple, silly, or funny it may be.

The complexity level of making a T-shirt, however, really depends on how much effort the designer is willing to spend.

However, simple designs do not necessarily mean bad designs and complicated designs do not necessarily mean good designs.

There are a few things to think about before making a t-shirt design then immediately have it printed out.

Doing the necessary research will save the designer an ample amount of time and potential resources.

While going straight to a T-shirt printing shop and having them print a design you possibly drew out can be done, the results of this do not always come out as planned.

Although this does have its own artistic value in a sense, this could also potentially cost more since the printing shop might charge for them to render or scan the design.

If the design really is that simple and you aren’t too meticulous with the results, you might be able to simply go to a T-shirt printing shop and simply have it printed.

For those, however, that really want to come up with a high-quality T-shirt design, it is important to read below what other things should you consider when it comes to making a really good T-shirt design.

What is the shirt for?

The first thing that needs to be defined is the purpose of the T-shirt.

The more specific the better. Let’s say you’re trying to make a T-shirt design for personal use, the next thing to ask is is it for summer?

Is it something casual?

Are you making a shirt to make a statement?

There are a lot of questions that can be asked and the more specific the questions are, the easier the designing process will be.

t-shirt with no design and t-shirt model

If you are making a T-shirt for someone else like either a person or a target market, it is important to nail down some things before starting the designing process.

The more you know the target, the easier it will be to make a T-shirt design. This starts off by knowing what style they like.

Once the style is done, you’ll be able to pinpoint what type of design you are looking to make.

There are a few other things to think of which include the font, the color, and other properties of the design like the lines, the curves, what shades of color, do they have a pattern, the positioning, and etc.

Before you get overwhelmed by this area, take note that this completely depends on how much effort the designer wants to spend on their design.

In other words, for those that want to go deeper and deeper, there are a lot of things they can put into account when trying to design their own T-shirt.

Create your own visual style. Let it be unique for yourself and be identifiable for others.

Orson Welles

Sometimes simplicity is best and what ultimately feels right could end up being the perfect T-shirt design.

Other times, there could be some work that needs to be done in order to come up with the perfect design.

There are resources online that would allow you to buy the perfect design and later on customize it to your will.

Different purposes usually have different styles as well.

Charity shirts are usually one color and are really simple with the message out. For those fashion shirts, however, the outcome can really depend on what the designer wants it to be. 

It is also important to know that there are a lot of different types of design and finding a shirt you probably have stuffed away in your wardrobe with the most similar design is a reference which you’ll be needing later on.

Of course, not every shirt fits the market and it is important to learn what they want before producing a shirt, especially for business, that nobody might want in the end.

Know your budget

This is a very important thing to factor in when making a T-shirt design.

A lot of people skip this part and end up with either a bad version of their design or not being able to print the shirt at all.

Most of the time, the more complicated the design, the more expensive it will be.

Aside from that, there are also other things that should be considered.

  1. Screen printing

This is a good option if you are planning to mass print out the T-shirt design and have a fairly uniformed simple design without the extra complications.

Screen printing, however, is a bit limited in its capabilities so you might want to adjust how much colors you are using, the size of your design, the intricacy of the design, and even the complication of the design.

  1. Vinyl graphics

These are perfect to choose when trying to make a design that is more photograph-like.

It is important to know that vinyl graphics would stick out and feel like a photo stuck to the shirt itself.

While this would be the perfect and easy way to get photos and other photo-like designs onto a shirt without the need for expensive printing.

  1. Direct-to-garment

This is the best way to get high quality designs onto high quality garments.

The problem with this is that it closely depends on the fabric that the garments are made of and the capability of the printers.

For reference, it would be better to see what the people that are printing your designs are capable of by checking out their other work.

Making the design

Once again, we’ll talk about making the design.

There are a few guidelines that can be followed in order to come up with a design that looks perfect when it is printed out.

person using adobe photoshop on a windows laptop

These guidelines still highly depend on the resources that the designer has.

  1. Text

The smaller the text is, the harder it will be for screen printing to execute.

Since screen printing prints through small squares or holes, it is important to know the limitations of the design.

Also, don’t use a font that is too close together since this will blot when being screen printed.

When doing vinyl graphic printing, it really depends if the text is made in solid colors or has designs within them.

The thing about vinyl graphics is that it works better when the design is in blocks which is why it would be better to have the text in a block as well.

If the text is too thin, it could potentially peel off.

It’s also important for direct-to-garment designs to be not too small.

Small details could potentially be blurred out which is why when having small text, make sure to check the font.

Sharp without curves is generally easy to print out.

  1. Style and Imagery

The style used really depends on what the designer wants to accomplish.

It could be a bold statement tee, a minimalistic T-shirt with photo print, a symbol or emblem for a brand, team, or group, or whatever you plan to make.

Depending on the imagery, the design and the way the T-shirt is printed have to match.

This, in turn, also has to match with the designer’s budget. There are three things that have to be taken into account.

This is the budget, the design, and how it is printed.

  1. Color

A lot of people don’t know this but the more complicated or blended or shaded a color is, usually the harder it is to obtain.

Primary colors are much easier to print out since they are readily available and do not require mixing.

When making a screen printed shirt, make sure to know which colors they have available.

Vinyl graphics, since they are printed almost paper-like, can deal with more complicated photos.

However, it is important to note that the shirt used can alter the final color result.

A black or white shirt doesn’t really alter the design’s color but a colored shirt might.

  1. Fabric

Fabric also has an effect on the design.

Fluffier shirts usually make it harder for detailed designs to stay detailed due to the fabric moving a lot.

The thinner and more flat the fabric is, the easier it will be for designs to stick on the T-shirt.

Usually, if you are having a T-shirt printed online, they do not usually give out the details of what fabric is being used.

You can, however, ask for the details and do research in order to find out what the results will most likely be like.

Use the right file

Make sure to save the design in the right file format which is PNG and at the highest resolution possible.

This will then give the T-shirt printer a better and more detailed print of the design.

image resolution size comparison chart

The higher the resolution, the more pixels are used, the more pixels are used, the more detailed the template will be.

Making sure to use a high-resolution template or image for the design is very important since this not only provides a good guide, the printer itself will come up with better results.

Make a sample

If you are making a shirt design for mass production, it is very important to try and print out a sample design before having the whole batch printed out.

The good thing about printing out a sample is that the designer can see the defects if there are any and the quality of the shirt could also be tested out.

Making one sample for the screen printing, vinyl graphics, and direct-to-garment printing is a good way to compare the three if you are not too familiar.

One thing that can be done if you don’t want to spend money making a number of samples is to go through your wardrobe and check out three different ways of printing a specific design.

Find a shirt that looks the closest to your design and examine it.

Check out how it was printed, the size of the print, and the details involved.

Also, if the information is available, check out what type of material the T-shirt uses. Usually, you can check on the tags what material the shirt is made of.

Two of the most common materials that a T-shirt is made of is either polyester or cotton.

One of the reasons why a sample is super important is actually the size and placing of the design! It’s usually hard to tell how the design looks without having it on a T-shirt itself but there’s actually a technique to save up on this.

Print the regular design on paper and simply see how the design looks on top of a T-shirt. Try adjusting the design’s size and print it again.

Also try to take measurement of the placement as well since it is very important.

By printing the design on a piece of paper and putting it over a shirt, you’ll be able to make adjustments especially since printing on paper is definitely cheaper than printing on a T-shirt.

If you don’t own a printer, it might be better to have different sizes printed out all at once in order to try them out on top of the T-shirt.


Thank you for reading, and we hope you found this useful. If you have any questions or you want to follow us for more related discussions, follow us on Twitter.

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