T-shirts are a fantastic way to advertise a business, showcase incredible designs, create merchandise for events or simply express your personality in a unique way. Whatever your reason may be for delving into the world of personalised garments, we here at Print Pixels will be telling you just how to design the perfect custom t-shirt!
In our ultimate design guide, we will take your through the entire customised t-shirt creation process from inception to completion. Whether you’re completely new to the t-shirt game or are a seasoned veteran, we’ll go through everything you need to know, as well as give our tips & tricks of the trade along the way.
How To Design The Perfect Custom T-Shirt
The purpose of the t-shirt?
The first port of call is defining the purpose of your proposed t-shirt. Is it to raise awareness of a certain cause, brand or event taking place? If any of these is the case, you’ll want the design of your t-shirt to be as eye-catching as humanly possible, in order to pique intrigue, interest and curiosity, encouraging people to ask you about it. The design of the t-shirt will always be affected by its intended purpose.
Once you know the purpose for sure, we recommend making a list of the the themes and the styles that you’d like to include in your t-shirt design. Are you looking for playful or serious, edgy or traditional, modest or luxurious? Answering these types of questions will help you considerably in the early stages of the creative process.
Keep your audience in mind
Your target audience should always be at the forefront of your mind when designing customised t-shirts. Not only should the designs represent the branding you’re looking to promote, but you must always think to yourself…would my target audience be excited to see and wear this t-shirt?
Budget & Quantity
The next aspect to tick off the list is defining how much you want to spend and how many t-shirts you need. Both of these factors will have an impact on the design you can have. For example, the budget may determine how many colours you use. Depending on which printing method you opt for, additional colours can scale up the price considerably. So, if cost is a concern, a great way to save money is by conserving colours!
The quantity of t-shirts is also a big factor in deciding which printing method you should go for. Some are ideal for bulk orders whereas others are better for smaller quantities…
Choose Your Printing Method
Many are unaware of the various methods of t-shirt printing. Let’s go through each of them to determine which will be best for you.
Screen printing is the method of transferring a stencilled designs onto a garment using a meshed screen and ink. Ink is pushed through the meshed screen to create an imprint of your design on the material beneath. This technique involves laying down thick layers of ink which are then absorbed by the material yielding an extremely high quality product. The results of screen printing create an unrivalled vibrancy and richness when it comes to your design on the fabric.
- The method produces vivid colours, even on darker materials
- Great for large orders of simple designs, as the printer can reproduce the design very easily using the same stencil over and over again
- T-shirts and clothing produced via screen printing is extremely durable and long-lasting
- Screen printing isn’t as cost eﬀective for smaller orders
- Only one shade of ink can be applied at a time meaning multi-coloured items will require individual screens and separate stencils which increase costs
- The same goes for more complex designs as additional stencils may also be required in these instances
Vinyl printing involves using computer-controlled equipment to precisely cut shapes from sheets of vinyl, and heat pressing your design into the garment to seal the vinyl sheets into the fibres of the clothing.
- Vinyl printing is perfect for designs which require a high amount of customisation as the vinyl can be cut into any shape and in any colour(s) you desire
- You are able to print photographs onto a t-shirt
- It is a very affordable option for low volume orders as the set up costs are nowhere near as substantial compared to screen printing
- Can be used on any type of fabric
- Vinyl printing is only practical for smaller quantity orders as the process would be very time-consuming and expensive for larger volumes
- The vinyl itself is an extremely durable plastic that can withstand many years of wash and wear but is less durable than other printing options
- The size of design can aﬀect the price
Direct-To-Garment (DTG) Printing
The new kid on the block when it comes to t-shirt printing methods is DTG. The direct-to-garment method prints ink directly onto the fabric of the shirt. It goes straight into the fibres of the fabric, meaning you don’t feel the design or ink when you touch it!
- DTG can be used for detailed designs with lots of different colours
- Perfect for small quantity orders such as promo, stag or hen do events
- Not well suited for mass printing
- The process doesn’t work as well on dark colours
The Type of T-shirt
There is a vast array of different t-shirt types. The one you choose will affect the amount of space you have to work with and therefore your design. You may even have to think about tailoring your design around the t-shirt type you desire.
There are short sleeve t-shirts with crew or v-neck designs, polo t-shirts, henley t-shirts, long sleeve t-shirts, tank tops, tube tops, off the shoulder tops and more!
With such a diversity of garment types to choose from, make sure you have this figured out before moving on to the more creative next steps!
Time To Get Creative
Now for the fun part! Choosing the colours, wording and imagery to be included on the t-shirt design is the most enjoyable part of the process for many, and it’s easy to see why. This stage enables you to really go for it when it comes to creative flair.
Choose Your Colours
Firstly, you need to choose the colour of your t-shirt itself as that will serve as the base or background for the rest of your graphics, fonts or imagery. You’ll want to ensure that the colours of the t-shirt and accompanying elements complement each other well, so that a visually harmonious t-shirt design is produced!
Choose Your Fonts
Typography is definitely one of the crucial pieces of the t-shirt design puzzle. Selecting the perfect font can be the difference between an amateurish and professional-looking outcome. When it comes to choosing fonts, the most important aspect to think about is readability. You don’t want anyone who looks at your t-shirt to struggle to decipher the messaging.
However, another key aspect when it comes to choosing a font is making sure that it reflects the style and personality you’re looking to get across on your design. Different typefaces evoke different feelings. Whether you’re designing a t-shirt for staff members, a hen-do t-shirt or merchandise for a heavy metal gig, the font must match the purpose of the t-shirt!
Choose Your Graphics
Graphics and imagery are a brilliant way to help your t-shirt stand out from the crowd. There are a few different routes you can take when it comes to this part of the t-shirt design including: logos, illustrations or icons.
Many branded t-shirts opt for just their logo alone. For example, Nike or Supreme which yield some incredible & iconic designs. On the other hand, illustrated graphics or icons can create a playful or more memorable design.
Choose Your Material
The final aspect of the design process to think about is the material you intend to use. Not all t-shirt materials are the same in terms of quality, so you’ll need to make sure the material you choose adheres to your needs and budget.
Cotton is one of the most popular options due to its affordability, and the fact that the material is extremely easy to print on. Then there’s the 50% cotton and 50% polyester combo which provides a softer feel to the garment.
Print, Print, Print!
Once you’ve followed all of the previous steps, it’s time to get printing! See you designs come to life before you eyes which is definitely the most exciting part of the entire t-shirt designing process.
To make sure that the printing goes as smoothly as possible, ensure that you thoroughly read all guidelines provided to you by the printing company you choose. More often than not, you will be required to submit your t-shirt design in a vector format, which will usually be in the form of an AI, PDF or EPS file.
Our Top Tips Before You Start Designing Your T-shirt
- Attention grabbing t-shirts don’t always have to be bright and bold. Sometimes a clean and minimalistic design with a punchy slogan and unique iconography is all you need!
- Take the time to explore your concept, and even come up with a few variations before settling on a final choice.
- There’s often nothing better than seeing a elaborate, detailed and well-designed t-shirt. However, sometimes the best t-shirt designs are the simplest and most minimalistic, which shouldn’t be forgotten!
- If you’re looking to take advantage of the latest trends, thoroughly delve into said trend in order to firmly understand the nuances and context.
- Source a good printer as your t-shirt will only ever be as good as your printer!
Speaking of good printers, if you’re looking for a printer in Edinburgh who specialises in t-shirt printing, look no further than Print Pixels. We can either help you design & print your dream t-shirt, or simply act as your printer if you’ve already created the design. For all of your t-shirt printing needs, contact our team today!