Gone are the days when you had to go to a physical store to have a new custom shirt made for you. Nowadays, you can just sit comfortably at home, browse design templates and create the shirts that you’ve always wanted to have, but didn’t know where to actually get them. If you are a creative fellow with an endless stream of ideas as to what a nice shirt should look like, then you’re going to love our article.
Let’s talk how you can design your own shirt!
First thing’s first: before you design your shirt, it would be best to determine first the color, the shirt type and the dimensions. Custom shirt websites often offer a wide variety of shirt types, colors, sizes, etc. to ensure that people will be able to get exactly what they need, in addition to the actual design.
Another awesome thing about ordering shirts from a website is you will be able to play around with the design before finally placing your order. You can spend as much time tweaking it before settling on the designs that are just perfect for you.
Basic design guidelines
To make your design really stand out, we’ve prepared a couple of basic design guidelines for you to follow. Note that these tips are for people who want to design shirts to sell too, so if you’re interested in that as well, be sure to take notes.
- Don’t rush it – This is probably the most important piece of advice that we can give you: don’t rush the process. If you have a concept in mind already, let it ferment a little. Draw on paper, your smartphone, or anywhere else you can experiment with your concept.
Having a concept in mind is one thing – it’s another thing completely to see it for the first time so you can begin improving it.
Art is a constant process of improvement. Our favorite “art hack” would be to step out of the house and go for a walk, just to freshen the mind.
Stimulating yourself visually with a movie, or even reading is a good way to boost your creativity. When you feel that familiar, artistic rush, create your design!
Now if you don’t feel like making your design from scratch, you can always use pre-existing templates or pre-made designs. That’s cool, too. Or you can digitally combine images and text on Photoshop or GIMP to come up with an equally awesome work of art fit for any shirt.
- Project it – As we have already discussed elsewhere, t shirt design is slightly different from straight illustration or cartooning. The design needs to look good on a shirt and it should look even better when worn by a person. You can project your design on fabric virtually when you open the design editor of a custom shirt website. Shirt design software for the Web usually have this function, so people can see what the design looks like on a shirt.
A shirt is a different kind of canvas, with its own rules. You will understand what we mean when you finally try it out for yourself.
To put it simply, the elements and dimensions of the art that you will be printing on the fabric should be appropriate for the contour and appearance of the torso.
- Simplicity rules. – Contrary to what many folks think about digital or traditional art in general, to be “simple” means to put more weight on each element of the design, so you can accomplish more with fewer elements.
Now, we’re not saying that you shouldn’t put a lot of elements on your design. Post-modern designs almost always have a deluge of colors, lines, and plays of light that require multiple elements and variations to be added to the design.
But for the most part, since it will be added to a shirt and not to a large canvas meant for display, tone down the elements and focus on one or two messages that you want to convey through the art.
Sure, you can add text to the final design, but the graphic art is responsible for maybe 80% of what is being communicated by the overall design. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your graphics, too.
- Selling your custom shirt? – If you’re planning to sell the custom shirt that you’re designing, then you most certainly have to think of your market. In the shirt industry, instant recognition is number one.
Sure, there will be a few people who are looking for truly unorthodox t shirt designs, but for the most part, people want shirts that they can identify with, especially when the subject of the shirt design is humorous.
Focus on the general and specific interests of the people that you want to market your design to. It’s important to know them (really) so if you have no clear idea, it won’t hurt to reach out to folks and hold a survey of sorts, so you can get fresh ideas for the drawing board.
- Design humor carefully – Admittedly, a shirt can end up looking cheap if the humor is too loud or crass. While some really talented writers can make one-liners work even if they are crass or loud, for the most part, they don’t.
So if you want your shirt to have a humorous angle, make sure that the humor is subtle, almost under another layer so people have to look at the art in its entirety to ‘get’ the joke. Just imagine walking around with a shirt that has a direct joke on it. It wouldn’t look right at all, no matter how good the art is.
- Complementary colors matter – We can’t stress this enough: designing shirts is a form of art. Therefore, you will still be operating under the rules of art, in general. Learn the colors, the palettes, and how they can be combined.
Learn what complementary colors are, which are combinations of colors that are aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. These aren’t limitations, but rather, ways to improve your design as you continue designing custom shirts.
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