How to Design a T-Shirt like a Pro

Follow these tips to make your custom t-shirt shine.

An amazing custom t-shirt starts with an amazing design. A blank canvas, or in this case, a blank t-shirt can seem intimidating. Or maybe you have so many ideas you don’t know how to channel them into a cohesive design. If you don’t know where to start or you need help refining your idea, keep reading to learn how to design a t-shirt like a pro. 

How to Design a T-Shirt

Know Your Audience

When designing a t-shirt, think about the style of the person wearing it. Take some time to look into current trends and the type of aesthetic that catches the attention of your target audience. For example, right now Gen Z girlies are loving Y2K trends. Think 90’s inspired patterns, translucent or metallic elements, and quirky quotes – preferably on a cropped baby tee. However, these trends are definitely not for everyone. 

Take inspiration from timeless trends and then incorporate elements that are popular with your specific audience. Consider all elements of the design including colors, fonts, and composition. 

Find the Right Font

How to Design a T-Shirt

With so many great typefaces to choose from, it’s hard to narrow it down. If you are just learning how to design a t-shirt, it’s tempting to overdo it. A good rule of thumb is to work with no more than three typefaces. Make sure they work together and balance each other out. For example, if you choose a cursive or serif font, balance it out with a simple, clean sans serif like Montserrat or Helvetica. 

Create an effective typographic hierarchy by utilizing the fonts, color, and size of your text to focus the eye where you want it to go first. Also, consider the legibility of the typeface. Decorative fonts may make for an attractive design, but your message may be lost if it’s too difficult to read. 

Create a Color Scheme and Keep it Simple

How to Design a T-Shirt

To create a color scheme, first, decide on one color you know you want to use and build from it. You can choose colors within the same shade for a cool monochromatic look or make your design pop with complimentary colors. For inspiration, we recommend checking out Adobe Color. This tool helps you create a color scheme, so you can play with options to find the right one for your design. 

Like typefaces, choosing too many colors can lead to a chaotic design. Keeping your design to three colors will prevent it from being too overwhelming. That said, if you have a really simple design without intricate details or tons of elements, you can expand your palette and utilize color to bring visual interest. 

Make Your Design Pop with Specialty Elements 

How to Design a T-Shirt

Accent your design with foil, puff ink, metallic ink, or glow-in-the-dark ink. Less is more for these options, but sometimes it’s the small details that make the biggest impact on the overall design of the t-shirt. 

Choose a Shirt that Compliments Your Design

Don’t forget the shirt itself affects the look and feel of your design. The shirt can serve as a color in your design. So, play with background colors and see what looks best to make your design stand out. 

The fabric of the shirt can also affect the look of your design. Screen printing on 100% cotton ensures bold, clean vibrant colors. On the other hand, printing on a tri-blend t-shirt can create a weathered vintage vibe. 

Get Started 

Ready to see your design come to life? Contact a Daymaker today to start your custom t-shirt order. Looking for more tips? Check out our blog, “The 5 Steps You Need to Prepare Your Design File for Screen Printing“.