When it comes to printing t-shirts the design is as important if not more important then the look and feel of the actual print itself. We see thousands of designs a month at T-Shirt Elephant, with that experience, I’d like to share a few tips on how to create an eye-catching t-shirt design.
High Resolution Artwork
When designing artwork to be printed on shirts, it’s important you design your file in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. Adobe Illustrator works in vectors, which are elements that can be expanded to any size and do not lose resolution. This means that when you blow up your artwork to print on a shirt, there will not be any pixelation or detail loss. If you are using Photoshop, be sure to design your artwork at least 10-12″ wide at 300 dpi resolution. For a clean looking print, designing in Illustrator or Photoshop is a must.
Colour is Key.
Colour could be the defining feature of your design. If you going for a bold eye-catching design, then make sure you have an effective contrast between the shirt colour and the print colour. A great example of this would be printing bright white on a black t-shirt, rather then printing purple of blue on a black shirt. If you want your design to be subtle, printing tone on tone (like dark red on a light red shirt) or printing using pastel colours is a great way to accomplish that look.
For comfortable wearability the amount of ink coverage in your design is an important factor to consider. The larger and more full coverage the image is, the heavier the deposit of ink will be. A full coverage print on a dark shirt can have a very heavy feeling, which can almost feel like a plate when you wear it. If your t-shirt is meant to be worn in a warm environment, this can be very uncomfortable for the person wearing the shirt. If your going for full coverage prints, try using light coloured shirts with dark coloured inks, so the inks sink into the fabric, avoiding the heavy print feeling.
If your trying to create a vintage style t-shirt then make sure to use distressing and fine detail in your artwork. If your trying to create a bold design, use an eye-catching font that can be read clearly. Also keep the majority of the important content towards to the top of the design at eye-level.
Consider your costs when creating a design. For screen printing, the more colours you use the more expensive the shirt will be to print. A safe bet is to keep your design between 1-3 colours between 25-50 t-shirts and 50+ use 6-8 colours if you must. Same goes with the number of print locations, as printing on the back, sleeve, etc can get pricey, especially on low volume orders. If you choose to print your shirt digitally, or if your ordering a small number of shirts, colour is not a factor as direct to garment printing allows for full colour prints.
Thanks for reading and I hope these tips are helpful.