How to design a t-shirt: the ultimate guide – 99designs

It ’ second stained, it ’ sulfur ripped, it ’ s full of holes… But you merely can ’ thyroxine seem to throw it out. For a set of us, our front-runner t-shirts are a room to express who we are. ( And for others, they ’ rhenium unblock advertise ! ) But how to design a jersey that ticks all the boxes ? You ’ ll find out below .
ironic t shirtWe know ironic t-shirts are hot, but this is some next level stuff.
Do you have an killer jersey idea and suspect others will feel the lapp way ? Are you looking for an alternative means of promoting your occupation, or making some side income with merch ? Do you want to commemorate a special consequence, like a class reunion or bachelor girl party ?
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Whatever your reasons, the fundamentals of jersey design remain the lapp ; it ’ s what you do with them that counts .
In this Ultimate Guide to T-Shirt Design, we ’ ll run through the each step of the design process, from the origin of an idea to getting your shirt mass-produced. No matter how much ( or how little ) experience you have, these jersey design tips will give you everything you need to know .

How to design a t-shirt in 7 steps

1. Figure out why you need a shirt

No matter your rationality for designing a jersey, it ’ ll always involve a little act of branding. If you ’ rhenium using t-shirts for promotional purposes, branding is your main goal. even if it ’ south strictly manner, you ’ ll distillery need to weave reproducible mark themes into all your products. For personal use—like commemorating an event, for example—you want to make certain your jersey design communicates clearly .
If you haven ’ triiodothyronine already, write out a number of the key themes, styles, and personality traits you want your brand and shirts to convey. Is your sword playful or dangerous ? Edgy or conservative ? epicurean or low-cost ? A focus jersey blueprint can answer all of these questions at a glance .
t-shirt design with different color choicesWhat’s the Prince Adam version of the Brewmaster look like? T-shirt design by yuyunarts
Take a flying glance at the example above. What does it tell you about the Brewmasters company ? For starters, they don ’ t take themselves excessively badly, and the wooden instruments suggest a more traditional brew stylus that hints at a classic taste. That ’ s a set of information from a cartoon .
To get the most effective design, move away from your personal preference and trust more on real, quantifiable data. Who are your target clients/customers ? What post traits do they want to do business with ?
here are four goals to help guide your jersey plan march by helping you understand why you need a shirt and what you want it to do .

Promotional gifts

Your t-shirts are something you give away for free to keep your sword in the minds of prospective clients/customers .
Surreal pizza t shirtDesign by dudeowlOwl t shirtDesign by XZEQUTEWORX™Paddling astronaut t shirtDesign by PANG3STU This could be something given away at conventions, conferences, other promotional events or even a leave-behind at a business meet .

Internal company usage

Employees get shirts for solidarity, appreciation or possibly even a company consistent .
Colorful t shirtDesign by D.Dimov-ILINDESIGNSGomme t shirtDesign by dudeowlWorking box t shirtDesign by XZEQUTEWORX™ The goals are exchangeable to promotional gifts because there ’ s a potent need for branding .


Your t-shirts are a product you plan on sell, then make certain to factor in expressive style, marketability and commercial enterprise strategy .
Mountain t shirtDesign by dudeowlSpread some love t shirtDesign by cereal killerStereosonic t shirtDesign by BRTHR-ED You ’ ll need to understand your shirt ’ second place in the market, sol consider conducting research to discover the tastes of your customers. Your own personal tastes are a good startle, but when it comes depressed to selling to the masses, quantifiable datum constantly beats guess .

Event souvenirs

extra events need special souvenirs, and t-shirts are constantly a great option .
Headphone t shirtDesign by stormyfuegoGrey t shirtDesign by BATHILumberjack and moose t shirtDesign by _ELM_ These share many of the lapp goals as shirts for inner caller use ( solidarity, appreciation ) but for a more fooling, less restrictive audience .
regardless of their manipulation, most t-shirts are promotional in some way. even if you ’ rhenium designing t-shirts as merchandise, include your trade name logo so observers know who made the shirt if they want something alike. It should have a firm, even dominant, presence on the shirt .
Apply the lapp blueprint timbre and ingenuity as you would a billboard ad. More than merely clothes, t-shirts provide exposure every time a person wears them in public, particularly if the owner likes the shirt and wears it often .
once you ’ ve determined your goals, you can then prioritize the different aspects of your jersey design. For example, manner might be a high priority for merchandise tees, but not for employee gifts. You want to tailor your design in a way that best suits your needs .

2. Define your budget and quantity

You ’ re anxious to get to the actual jersey design. We get it. But let ’ s settle some details first so you can focus your design better : namely, your budget and quantity. How a lot you can spend and how many t-shirts you need will impact your design .
For case, budget and measure will help determine how many colors you can use. Depending on your print method, extra colors may cost more money. If your budget is tight, a dependable manner to save is conserving colors .
The total of shirts you need will besides influence your printing method. Some methods are ideal for printing in bulk. Others have a higher price per shirt and are better for little orders .
Before you begin to think about designing or printing, plan your budget and quantity consequently .

3. Know your printing options

There are a lot of things to consider when you ’ re looking for the best jersey printing method acting for you. Cost, appearance, production time, materials—they ’ re all important. The more you know about each method, the easier it will be to decide which one is best for you .

Screen printing

This is the gold standard for jersey print. Your printer makes master screens of your invention ( one for each color ) so you can print in bulk .
How to design a t-shirt: illustration of silk screen printingScreen printingCalifornia t shirtVia CaliPrints Pros : Reliable standard for printing. low-cost and high quality. Ideal for big orders over 20 .
Cons: New screen required for every new discolor or design revision ( which gets dearly-won ). colorful designs end up being expensive .

Vinyl graphics

Another method acting of heat transfer, vinyl printing uses more durable vinyl alternatively of just ink .
How to design a t-shirt: illustration of vinyl graphics printingVinyl graphicsIt's all about being gorgeous t shirtVia BlueMaize Pros: Extremely durable and high quality. Ideal for when you want your design to stand out ( literally ) .
Cons: Additional colors cost more, so complicated designs get expensive. not great for large orders .
A newer option, DTG printing uses the freedom of inkjet print, but prints directly on fabric .
How to design a t-shirt: illustration of direct-to-garment printingDirect-to-garmentTropical t shirtVia Printaura Pros : Highly customizable designs with maximum detail and extensive discolor choices .
Cons : Use for humble batches or possibly a one sample. The more you ’ re print, the less viable it becomes. Doesn ’ metric ton work well on dark-colored garments .
Take a spirit at our guide to jersey print for more information .

4. Brainstorm your design concept

here comes the playfulness stuff… now you get to start figuring out what ’ second actually going on your jersey ! Make sure you don ’ metric ton jump to this step first base. The more time and effort you put into preparing for this, the better .
Your invention could go in a million different directions. As you ’ re brainstorming, here are some tips to help focus your creativity .

T-shirt types

All this speak about t-shirts, and it ’ mho easy to forget that there are lots of different types of shirts. Just to name a few…
How to design a t-shirt step: choosing t-shirt type
Think about your hearing and intended goals before deciding the right character of jersey. A reveal craw top might not be the best forwarding for a law firm .
As you start sketching out jersey design ideas, make certain it will translate to the actual size. Design using an 18 ” x18 ” analyze and physically place your designs on a shirt. That doesn ’ t mean you have to fill the whole space ( like if you ’ rhenium keeping it minimal with a belittled logo ), but a realistically sized canvas tent will help you get the proportions mighty .
once you have your design, consider how it will look on larger and smaller shirt sizes. If you choose a screen printing work, different sizes may require different screens, which means extra costs .

Style and imagery

Colorful dinosaur t shirtT-shirt design by Prim
At this stage, you have to rely on your creative and artistic instincts to communicate the messages you want to say. Don ’ t forget these questions we talked about before :

  • What is your brand?
  • Who is your market?
  • Why are you designing a shirt in the first place?

Put all of that in concert, and you ’ re ready to start designing a jersey that ’ second perfective for you .
For exemplar, take a look at Prim ’ s dinosaur jersey design. This is a kyd ’ south trade brand, so the expressive style is cunning and cartoony, appealing to its market .
comparison that to the winning entry for the Pumpkin jersey plan contest, by 99designs godhead DiditRed .
The Forgotten Path t shirtT-shirt design by DiditRed
This german hard-core music festival is decidedly not marketed to kids. That opens up their designs to edgier material, which suits their prospective clients better .
Of class, there are more options than being terrifying or sugary sweet.

Datafiniti t shirtDatafinity t-shirt design by Alex Lalove
Alex Lalove shows us how to design a professional, risk-free jersey without being boring. His winning entry promotes the Datafinity trade name with its logo front and center, but spices up the spirit and feel then it seems more fashionable than a standard business tee .
besides, remember that your plan is being displayed on bodies. Lumpy, rough bodies that aren ’ thyroxine constantly equally harmonious as we ’ five hundred like. Think about flat, uncomplicated designs since there ’ s no telling where the nooks and crannies will land on your double .
For similar reasons, you besides want to avoid detail imagination, such as elusive discolor gradients and intricate linework. Always err on the slope of simpleton .
Sioux t shirtDesigner Monkeii uses a 2D image and two colors that match the background well—all without sacrificing the artistic quality.

T-shirt typography

The fonts you choose say a draw about your brand. serif fonts ( the ones with little arms ) or script fonts look more classic. Sans-serif fonts make it more advanced. T-shirts offer more of an opportunity than other areas of graphic design to play with playfulness, crazy display fonts, but do keep readability in mind. If the words on your shirt are authoritative to communicating your message, make sure they don ’ thyroxine draw overshadowed by swirly, begrimed, balmy typography .

Color in t-shirt design

The element of purpose that is best at instantaneously communicating personality is color. Each nuance, imbue and tint evokes an emotion, acting as a shortcut for you to portray something about your post at good a glance .
jersey designs have two sets of colors to keep in mind : the fabric color ( south ) and the print color ( south ). To make surely that these two complement each other, constantly use your fabric coloring material as the background of your design ideas. ( And besides note that a discolor canvas can have an impact on what ink look like, sol have sure you talk to your printer about that ! )
Pantone colors vs. CMYK printingPantone colors vs. CMYK printing
Because of the way jersey inks cultivate, printing colors can get a little crafty. The least expensive way to print your design will be to approximate the colors. just know that your “ bluish green ” might not match your printer ’ mho “ teal. ”
Exact discolor matches are possible with Pantone ( PMS ) or custom-made blended CMYK inks—but they ’ rhenium more expensive. PMS uses predefined, claim ink tones that your printers can purchase. CMYK print creates about any color by combining Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key ( black ) inks. Check with your printer to determine what ’ s available .

Specialty printing techniques

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We ‘ve just sent you your free jersey design ebook .

Want to learn how to create the arrant jersey ? Get the detached jersey design ebook !
enter your electronic mail to get the ebook, along with creative tips, trends, resources and the episodic promo ( which you can opt-out of anytime ) .

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Like any early print medium, t-shirts have their own put unique ink options .

  • Plastisol — The standard ink used in screen-printing
  • Foil — Shiny and reflective
  • Novelty — Glitter, hologram or even a fuzzy feel
  • High-density — For a dimensional appearance that pops out from the shirt
  • Gel — Like high-density, but with a “wetter” look
  • Water-based — No feeling at all; ingrained in the fabric

5. Find a designer

Got plan skills ? Get crackin ’ ! If you don ’ t, don ’ thymine worry. There are tons of pros out there ready to turn your design concept into a world .

The DIY route

The main advantage of designing a jersey yourself is the monetary value. If your budget is rigorous, the decision is already made for you. Design freedom is a huge advantage, but don ’ metric ton forget that professionals know the technical foul concerns of jersey design ( plus a whole lot more ). If you broke out into a cold sweat when we mentioned acronyms like CMYK, you might sleep better handing this off to a pro .

Hiring a pro

rather than teaching yourself market, stigmatize and graphic design, why not pay person who knows all them already ?
Collaborating with a freelancer can be crafty, but besides a fortune of playfulness. Do your best to find a graphic designer that thinks like you and understands what you ’ rhenium looking for. Consider the couturier ’ south personality, design stylus and expertness. You can besides try working with multiple designers at once by launching a jersey Design Contest on 99designs .
once you ’ ve found your couturier ( randomness ), you have to clearly communicate your imagination. Tell them what about your design ideas, message, and intended consultation. Include details about colors, logos, ocular stylus, jersey type and print specifications. Send them images of designs that match the stylus you ’ re looking for. Give them everything they need to know so you can get the arrant jersey design .

6. Evaluate your design

As your design options start rolling in, browse through every version and select your favorites. Don ’ thyroxine forget your commercialize and technical foul requirements. Will your blueprint paroxysm on a tank top ? Is the sum of color within your budget ? Is the messaging right ? This international relations and security network ’ thyroxine just an art contest, but a business decision. Communicate your feedback clearly to your graphic designer to make indisputable your following set of options look even better .
then, make sure to run it by both key stakeholders and people who don ’ t have any connection to what you ’ re doing. even if it ’ second equitable your neighbor across the street, people not closely associated with your jersey design will notice things you never did .
Consider asking them :

  • What is the one key message you get when you look at this shirt?
  • Who is this shirt for?

Their answers to these questions will help you determine if the jersey is communicating what you want it to. If it ’ s not, go back to your couturier and name out what you can change .

7. Get the right files from your designer

You ’ ve got the perfect jersey design. Hell yes ! immediately go back to that information you got from your printer and check to make sure you have the right files .
You credibly need :

  • Your t-shirt design in vector format.

    This will likely be an Adobe Illustrator (AI), PDF, or EPS file. You’ll need one for each different t-shirt design you’re creating.

  • Color codes. If your printer does custom colors, make sure you have the Pantone or CMYK color codes so that everything turns out looking like you want .

8. Find a kick-ass printer

once your design ’ sulfur ready, it ’ mho printing fourth dimension ! Find one that offers the method you need at a price you can afford. Of course, excess features and discounts to sweeten the hand are big, besides. Sifting through impression options to find the best one for your particular project normally requires experience and time… but we ’ ra going to fast-track it for you !
Nerd t shirtOur designers create awesome stuff for us, too! T-shirt design by Asael Varas

  • Find out if the printer has an in-house art department. Not only does this mean the printer does in-house prints, but it usually means these folks do good work. Only successful printers can sustain an in-house art department.

  • Request samples of finished shirts, not design images. Most printing companies love visitors! Stop by their shop to see and touch their shirts. Remember: a printer’s job is to translate design to an actual print, and only a finished product reveals that.

  • Start building a working relationship with a printer you can grow with. Find a printer who prints six or more colors. Even if you don’t need that many for your first project, you might need them later.

  • If you’re doing a larger order, make sure your printer offers pre-press proofs. You won’t know for sure how the design fits on the shirts until you see a sample.

  • Beware hidden charges, particularly with screens, films or Pantone color matching. Just like any other diligence, there are a few decayed eggs. Go over all the charges before payment to make sure they ’ re being up front .

time to design an perplex jersey !

Every class jersey plan and impression are becoming more and more accessible. They ’ rhenium something every business can take advantage of… a long as they know what they ’ rhenium doing. We hope this lead on how to design a jersey gave you everything you need to break into the global of making t-shirts. Got questions ? Ask them in the comments below.

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