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How To: Make a T-shirt Design in Photoshop

A T-shirt can be the most fun and relaxed part of your wardrobe. A T-shirt also can make a statement, promote an event or be given as a present.

Creating your own shirt can be a lot of fun, but learning the ins and outs of Photoshop can be a little tricky. However, if you are set on using Photoshop, this tutorial will teach you how to design a T-shirt by using CS5.

Step 1. Plan the design.

Start your design by sketching or making notes. Think about the end goal and what resources or images you will use.

1 Photoshop Tee How To: Make a T shirt Design in Photoshop

TIP: Look for inspiration online. I found these on BustedTees.com. You can find some really interesting ideas in terms of color combinations and use of text.

Step 2. Choose a shirt and a printer.

When choosing the type of T-shirt, think about who will wear it — men, women or children? In what kind of climate will the shirt be worn? How many T-shirts do you plan to make? Keep these things in mind when you’re picking your printer, too.

TIP: To help picture the final design, use a picture of the actual T-shirt to lay out your design.

Step 3. Choose your photo or design.

If you are not using your own photo or design, make sure you select a public domain image, which is free, or you can purchase a stock photo or design.

TIP: The image must be 300 DPI for high-quality printing.

3 Photoshop Tee How To: Make a T shirt Design in Photoshop

Step 4. Set up the document.

Open Photoshop and, depending on the size you want your design to be, make the appropriate selections.

4 Photoshop Tee How To: Make a T shirt Design in Photoshop

Step 5. Place your image.

Go to File>Place. When the window appears, find the photo or design file on your computer and click place. The image will then appear. Click on the move tool at the top of the left toolbar. A window will ask if you want to place the image. Click place.

5 Photoshop Tee How To: Make a T shirt Design in Photoshop

Step 6. Add your effects.

Double-click the image layer on the layer palette to pull up the Layer Style menu. Here you can add shadows, glows, gradients or borders (stroke).

TIP: You can also select image and adjustments to play with the color of the photo.

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Step 7. Insert your text.

Add any message or writing you would like on the shirt by selecting the text tool on the left toolbar and clicking anywhere on the canvas.

With the text highlighted, you can use the menu at the top to change the font, font size or font color. Keep in mind the color of the text should stand out against the background it is placed on and the font should be easy to read.

Step 8. Create outlines.

For T-shirt designs, printers usually request that you create outlines on any text you use. To do that, select the text layer in the layer menu and go down to Type and select Convert to Shape.

TIP: Once you convert the text to a shape, you can no longer edit the text, so double-check your spelling and grammar, making sure the text says exactly what you want it to say.

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Step 9. Make a test shirt.

Before ordering a large quantity, have a sample or two made to be sure neither you nor the printer need to make any kind of adjustments.

If you want a smaller quantity, you may choose to print the design and iron on to your shirt. Larger projects can be sent to a T-shirt printer. Generally, the more shirts you order, the smaller the unit price.

TIP: If you choose to have a shirt screen printed, I recommend you use professional software and ask the printer how to prepare the file.

And there you have it!

Designing your own T-shirt can be a fun project. It is a great skill to learn for celebrations, gifts or your business. For the best results, be sure you check and double-check your work, use high-resolution, non-licensed images and high-quality T-shirts from a reliable T-shirt printer.

By: Kristi Maddox
Design Master

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