Tips for Creating an Affordable and Effective T-Shirt Design

Not everyone is a professional graphic designer.  That’s ok!  You can still create great designs that are interesting, and most importantly relevant to your purpose.  From plain text, to clipart and fun features, anything goes in the world of t-shirts.  Here are some tips and tricks for creating designs that work for your event, and your budget.  All the designs shown are meant to be easy to achieve using our online design studio.

 

T-Shirt Color and Print Color

Your t-shirt color and print color are possibly the most important aspects of the t-shirt design.  The colors you choose will be the first impression before your design is even noticed by the person seeing it.  Think about your audience, are they mostly female? Mostly male? Younger? General population?  What mood are you trying to convey?  These are all things to consider when choosing your t-shirt color and print color.  Our online t-shirt designer allows you to seamlessly change shirt colors, and print colors on text and clipart so you can see your design in many different color combinations.

We are here to help you through the process.  We’ve processed thousands or orders of every subject matter imaginable, and we can tell you what other people have done, and what colors are popular for certain groups or subjects.  For instance, if you needed a shirt for an Elementary School outing to the Zoo, A good suggestion might be a bright shirt color and bright print color that will make the kids happy, and keep them highly visible to their chaperones!  These two shirts pictured have the exact same design, and are the exact same price.  Both are completely fine, but for this particular job, I like the brighter colors

ZooOuting

 

Fonts

The style of the font will definitely set the tone for the design.  In our online design studio, you can choose from several fonts that all have unique characteristics that will give your design just the right feel.  Feel free to mix and match the fonts for added layers of interest.

If you’re doing the design on your own, offline, there are nearly unlimited options for fonts.  There are websites online that offer open source and freeware fonts that can be used free for any purpose, and come in every shape and style you could imagine.  http://www.dafont.com   and http://fonts.google.com are two places where you can browse for fonts.

What do you want the overall feel of the design to be?  Fun?  Corporate?  Retro?  The fonts themselves can become the design if you use something with enough character.   Here’s an example of two designs including the same color scheme, and design elements.  The only difference is the use of more decorative fonts.  It makes a big difference!

 

 

Clipart

Both of the above samples use clipart as a feature in the design.  While you can definitely do font-only based designs, adding clipart can give the design more depth, and add to the relevancy of your topic.  T-Shirt Cloud’s online design studio features over 100,000 pieces of unique clipart that cover a wide ranging variety of categories.  Clipart can really bring a design to life.  Let’s take a look at a design that uses only text, and then compare that to a similar design, but using clipart to amp it up!

MplsUSL

 

 

Layout

This image for Ryan’s Landscaping shows a little bit of what you can do with layout.  It’s very common to stack everything along the centerline, and that is completely fine!  It’s how many t-shirt designs are done.  However, if you are looking for added visual interest, or if you just want something different, definitely play around with the layout.  In the image above, you can see I’ve put “Ryan’s” off to the left, and the clipart of the tree off to the right.   You can do this with text-only designs too.  Try rotating some of the text vertical, or moving something off center.

RyansLS2

 

 

 

Add Distress

There is a feature in the design studio called Add Distress.  This feature applies a distress filter automatically on top of any element in your design and it is a really cool feature that can instantly give any design a retro edge.  Distress can be especially useful to break up a really heavy design.  This is perfect when printing on Triblends, or Poly-Cotton styles that are really lightweight.  Breaking up the print area creates a lighter laydown of ink and that’s a good thing.  Check out these two designs.  They are identical with the exception of the distress filter being applied.

BBC

 

 

Using the Shirt Color in the Design

Using the shirt color in the design has two benefits.  Similarly to the distress feature, using the t-shirt in the design, often referred to as “knock-out”, can create a lighter print which is great for lightweight garments, or 100% Polyester shirts.  Another great benefit to using the shirt color in the design is that it can create a similar effect as using a 2nd print color without the cost!  Here is an example that illustrate these two benefits.

On a 100% Polyester shirt such as the Hanes 4820  It’s important to keep a light print.  In the first option, you have the red and white stop sign printed in solid ink on the front of the shirt.  On this fabric that is meant to be light and comfortable, in some ways, it defeats the purpose if you print a thick heavy deposit of ink right on the chest.  The second option uses a red shirt so that can act as the red in the stop sign.  This way, the shirt remains light and flexible in that are and will be much more comfortable.  It also reduces a 2-color print to a 1-color print which is beneficial if you are looking to reduce costs.

Stop

 

 

 

Text Features (Outline, shape)

Sometimes text is all you need to get your point across.  With our online t-shirt designer, you can use the Text Shape and Outline features to add depth and interest to your text-only design.  Check it out!

SHSHOCKEY

 

Have Fun, and try new things!!

Most importantly, in design, it’s best to just try new things and to have fun.  This is your design, and you should feel free to make it your own.  Anything goes, and if you like it, go for it!  As always, if you run into trouble or you need personal assistance, give us a call.  We love to talk about designs and we’re always happy to help!

 

Thanks for reading, now get designing!

Erin

https://www.tshirtcloud.com/designer

 

 

 

 

 

T-Shirt Printing on Lightweight Triblend and Poly-Cotton materials

One of the most popular t-shirt styles of the last few years has been the lightweight poly-cotton and triblend fabric tees.  These styles offer a more modern, and retail ready quality for your custom t-shirts.  They are really comfortable, and come in stylish colors, interesting fabric textures, and modern washes.

We have worked to develop the best strategies and techniques for printing on these fabrics, which we would like to share with you:

Consider the shirt color and ink color carefully.  Printing a darker ink color on a lighter t-shirt color requires only a single layer of ink in order to get full coverage, which results in a print that is thinner on the fabric.   With darker shirt colors, if you print a color like white, it requires two layers of ink in order for it to be a bright, opaque white on top of the color.  This results in a print that is thicker, and can weigh down the shirt fabric if you have too much coverage in the print area.

Designs for these fabrics should be either light and airy, or smaller in order to make the most of the fabric itself.  If you have a really soft, lightweight t-shirt, and then you print a giant solid circle or rectangle on it, that will weight the fabric down, and make the entire area have a plastic feel to it.  This is especially important in the case of printing the lighter ink color on the darker shirt color.  We recommend designs that have a lot of the shirt color showing through, then even large designs can have a lighter feel to them.

One of our print strategies for printing light ink colors on dark t-shirt colors is to base the inks down.  We use a specific product meant to make the inks more viscous.  This minimizes the weight of the print, and also helps to create a smoother finish.  This can slightly minimize the overall brightness of the ink color, but with two layers of ink, you still get a nice opaque finish to the print.

If you’re looking to have more of a vintage feel to the print, we can limit a light color print to a single layer of ink so that the darker shirt fabric shows through the print.  This results in a thinner layer of ink, and reduces opacity greatly for a neat effect.  This works especially well with distressed artwork, another great idea for reducing the amount of ink that is ultimately laid down on the shirt.  If you are interested in this technique, be sure to talk to us about your design and ink/shirt color choices so we can help you determine if it’s right for you and your design.  Making sure you understand the process and setting your expectations are our number one priority.

Have you used these products in the past?  What are your experiences?  We’d love to hear from you.  Whatever you decide, we’re here to help you.  Give us a call, we’d love to discuss your project!

Announcing our new site, tshirtcloud.com

After more years of development than I care to admit, our new site and app are live.  The software went through many versions and iterations from actionscript (Flash) to javascript on the client side and from our custom framework to Laravel on the server side.  The main purpose of the app is to design custom t-shirts, but we are working hard on a lot of new features.  Some of them will be to bring you better content to create t-shirts, and some them will be tools to manage your apparel ordering and inventory more efficiently.  Thanks for reading and stay tuned.  I hope to share a lot of what I have learned about printing t-shirts and developing online design software.

Custom T-Shirt Design Studio