Having a cool design idea in your head is great, but physically getting it to look good on a custom t-shirt is a completely different beast. There are so many technicalities involved with producing an awesome graphic tee, and you need to be prepared to tackle the whole process head on from start to finish with as few issues along the way as possible. Here are some great pointers for putting out a great t-shirt that you can really be proud of.
1) Brainstorm the concept in detail
Like with any big project, you should lay out an outline of how you are going to proceed with the t-shirt project. The outline should list all of the major steps that you will have to undergo from the beginning until the shirt “rolls off the assembly line.” Even though the actual design of the tee will be your focal point and likely take the most effort and time, all of the technical aspects also need to be perfected so that your graphic comes out in top notch quality and in the exact orientation it should be in. Decide on colors, ink types, printer type, graphic placement, and more before you dive headfirst into production.
2) Use trial-and-error
When it comes to designing a great t-shirt, you’re going to have to do a lot of testing. The second that the bulb inside your head lights up, don’t rush to print the shirt out because you might realize that you need to edit the graphic some more. Instead of wasting ink and a blank tee, hand-draw your designs on a piece of paper so that you can alter the concept easily and instantly see how it looks. Some people might pull a flawless idea from the dome and translate it perfectly to the canvas, but most people will need to sleep on it, revise, and sleep again before they decide the design is just right.
3) Detail is great, but so is simplicity
Complex full-frontal or full-back graphics are instant eye-catchers, especially when full of color. A large graphic with lots of minute details can take lots of time and effort to do correctly, but it will be worth it in the end. However, that doesn’t mean you need to go with gaudy or jumbled designs all the time. In fact, simple designs can have an even greater impact on people who see your shirt because the few details on it are the only things standing out from the blank canvas. Such tees are popular today, and they might sport one word letters, a short message, or a simple logo.
4) Create a contrast in colors
Without color, your tee might as well be blank. It can be very difficult to see graphics when they are the same color or nearly the same color as the tee. While some tees are done this way purposefully, they tend to use a textured ink, stitching, or layered fabrics to create some contrast to the viewer. Even so, such designs are not meant to stand out and be bold. If you really want to make heads turn, use bright colors in contrast with darker tones. White on black, white on blue, red and yellow, lime green and hot pink, charcoal and royal blue–the combinations are endless. It doesn’t really matter which colors or how many you plan on using, just make sure they’re different enough to complement each other. Picture a stop sign for a showstopping design.
5) Do your graphics at actual size
Only you can visualize the final product in your mind’s eye. Nobody else has the same vision you do, so realize your ideas by designing the graphic in your illustrator program at the size you want it to be on the shirt. If you don’t specify, the person in charge of printing your tees might use his own judgement and preference to size it–even if it’s different than what you had planned. A surefire way to get things to go your way is to give the printer a sample shirt with the exact dimensions of the graphics all laid out.
6) Change texts to outlines
Every print studio is equipped with different graphics design programs with different font sets. If you happen to be using a font that’s not supported or one that is completely custom-made, it can be replaced in a similar font style when your shirt is actually printed. To avoid this inconvenience, edit your texts and change them to outlines so that they become universal images that won’t have incompatibility problems.
7) Use images from pop culture
If you want your graphics to have universal appeal, use images that are common in today’s pop culture. People the world over will be able to recognize the face of President Obama, the McDonald’s golden arches, or a picture of the Eiffel Tower. These pop culture icons could include famous people, famous landmarks, and so much more.
8) Be funny
Laughing is universal. Everybody does it, and we all love to do it. If you can cleverly incorporate humor into your graphic tee designs, you might have a winner on your hands–but that’s only if you originally planned to use humor as part of your plan. Good humor will draw people in, but bad humor will keep customers far away.
9) Make a statement
When designing a graphic tee, you might decide to make an important statement about something you feel very strongly about. The expression of your opinions on a certain political issue or other interest might even be the concept for your whole t-shirt line. The majority of graphic tees are not just meaningless designs. There are usually some underlying meanings behind the artwork and the sayings, and that’s what makes the t-shirt so significant. Graphic tees serve as a both fashionable apparel and billboards to advertise products and opinions.
10) Use a quality printer
You could have the most ingenious design ever, but if you use a cheap printer with low-quality ink, you’re going to end up with a shoddy product. The design will not be able to come to life without the appropriate technologies and techniques. That’s why it’s essential that you choose a renowned tee printing business to have your creations created. It’s best if you personally know the people who will work on the printing since communication between both parties will be much easier. When you can discuss the details with a printer in depth, he will be able to understand you better. When he can envision what you have envisioned to a closer degree, the end product will closely resemble your ideal.