A Comprehensive Guide On Designing and Printing Your First T-Shirt

Nowadays, a lot of designers are trying to get into the t-shirt business. Over the past couple of years, this trend has been growing rapidly. Thereare a lot of great t-shirt lines and  many apparel companies out there to compete with.

It usually seem likeit's going to be very difficult for new and young designers to make a name in the the clothing business. It is however not necessarily so, by taking things one step at a time, planning, and having the end goal in your mind when you tackle each task; it will become easier for you to get into the tee-shirt industry.

I didn't write this article to help you use your existing designs to create a clothing line. There is tons of information out there about that already. This article is for the beginners that want to try their hands at t-shirt design. What we're focusing on how to get inspired for your first design available on TeeJunction, how and where to print it, and also a little self-promo and marketing for good measure.

How To Find The Right Motivation And Inspiration


As a designer, I am certain you have created a design that didn't really float your boat. Maybe a project that was boring to you, or a subject that didn't really interest you. The work becomes less fun. Meanwhile, if it is an inspiring project you are working on, it will suddenly seem as if it's no work at all. Such works ignite a spark and bring out something incredible in you, and you try really hard to make the project awesome. It is important you find an inspiring theme for this tee design so it will be great. You can base the theme on anything from rock music to extreme sports. It's all fair game.


Target Audience

As soon as you have chosen a theme, the next thing is to carry out the necessary research to know the target audience. In order to create a killer design, it is essential to understand those you are designing for. Is your audience the old or young, male or young? What part of the world do they live in? You need to understand what they love to wear, what colors, and what imagery and font they find attractive. It is important you know and understand these things before you start designing.


It is time you look for some inspiration after you've discovered your theme and you've pinpointed your target audience. Your theme will determine where you'll go looking for inspiration. For instance, it could be by browsing the internet for college style humor, it could be by visiting the women's section of a sporting goods store, or it could be by visiting the local coffee shop where a lot of people gather every morning. Try to let your inspiration be creative. Your inspiration determines how good you'll be in the end.


Getting Ready To Create Your First Tee-Shirt

File Consideration And Setup

You need to consider several things when you set up your file to start designing. These includes how large the graphic will be, the type of material it will be printed on- black, light or colored?, how it be printed- silk screened or digitally?, the number of colors that will be printed if it's silk screened, etc.

Since you working in print, set the units ofyour new document to inches. When screen-printing, the largest screen-size usually available is 15 inches by 12 inches. It is advisable you use 8 colors at most when designing. This is because more colors will lead to higher production cost. That aside, a lot of screen printers can't handle more than 8 different screens,

Preparing For Print

A lot of preparation is not required for digital printing. You can print any number of colors you need with an inkjet printer. You can even print a photograph. If it is small run jobs, digital is great but you will most likely be screen printing if it's a Tee-shirt design.

Before you can do that, your colors need to be separated into different layers. When screen printing, each color is printed separately. This means each color in the design will need to be accessed by the printer.

After you have moved all the colors into their own layers, you can see each individual color by turning of each layer.

Traditional Printers

Using product mockups to display your design is part of marketing. One of the reasons mockups are great is because they'll let you display your design on a shirt even before you print it on an actual shirt. It is not advisable to mass print your first design as it may probably not be cost-effective or practical enough. Especially as you are not certain of how sales will go for that particular design. This aside, you should know the available printing options for you. As stated earlier, screen printing is the most traditionnal way for printing t-shirts. This process is probably the oldest printing methods still dominant till today. It's origin was dated to 1st century China. The technology has however improved significantly since then.

Low Run Printing


The best method to handle small run jobs is digital printing. Many printers will only print few shirts like 5 at a time. It is great if only need a couple of designs to wear around, or to show in a portfolio. With digital printing, there are no restrictions on colors. In my own opinion however, it is not the same as a standard printed T-shirt.

On Demand Printers

Over the past couple of years, several on-demand printers have started springing up on the internet. Vendors like SpreadShirt and CafePress. These vendors let you upload your tee design, signup for an online store, and upon order, they'll have your tees printed.

This is a great solution for a solo design shop.

Try to research on various vendors as experience and quality may differ from one to next A few of the popular ones are SpreadShirt, Cafepress, and Zazzle.


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