T-shirt Design Idea: Expectations vs. Reality - Ultimate Guide

Expectations vs. Reality - The Ultimate Guide To T-shirt Design

Simple designs are some of the best. However, even the simplest designs must accomplish some things correctly– and avoid the most common blunders– in order to attain greatness.

In this essay, I'll go over the top 9 considerations you should make when you create your printed masterpiece. Some of these may seem self-evident, while others may be novel to you. Continue reading to find out.

1.  Sizing

There are some situations in life where size is irrelevant. It is really important in T-shirt design. Despite this, most individuals use standard sizes the majority of the time.

The point is, size should be determined based on the design's nature as well as the fetures of the garment to be printed. It should be given considerable consideration.

It may appear considerably larger than it should, depending on the shape of your design. Square or circular shapes.

Some folks print their design on regular paper at home and hold it up to their shirt to get a sense of how it will look, which I completely encourage. While you're at it, make a superhero suit out of household stuff, too.

Another thing to think about is whether one size fits everyone. You may wish to consider choosing a reduced size print for the smaller goods, such as ladies and youth, depending on the size range of your apparel and the size of your order.

Another factor to think about is the style of the garments or products that will be printed, which may have a limited print area. Hoodies with front pockets, for example, have a maximum height of 10 inches, while some toddler tees are just 6 inches wide.

In the end, size does matter. It has the power to make or break a design. Do you want your shirt to be the first to be chosen from a new load of laundry, or the last one in the drawer after the hamper is full?

When in doubt, consult your sales representative or the Art Department to determine the best size for your print. We're always delighted to assist you in making your decision.

2. Placement

Print placement is often confused with location, however it is actually the precise measurement of where the design should be printed within the location.

Your design may be spectacular, but if the placement is incorrect, heads will be turned in the wrong direction. The belly print is a common blunder that is never flattering. I'll go into more depth about this terrible placement in a future post.

When in doubt, consult your sales representative or the Art Department to determine the best size for your print. We're always delighted to assist you in making your decision.

If your design is in a conventional print area, such as the complete front or back, our production staff will ensure that the placement is standard as well, and that it will function on all of your different garment kinds and sizes.

Whether you require a different placement, please specify the details, and our art team will check to see if your request is within the parameters, show you a proof of how it will appear, and pass your instructions to our Production Department.

In two upcoming blog entries, I'll go through the most common print places as well as a few unique print options that can help your design stand out.

Are you ready to create your own t-shirt? Take a look at some of our most popular choices:

3. Typography & Fonts

Typography is the visual component of the written word in its most basic form. It's not the text that's important, but typography is used whenever text is printed or presented.

When it comes to design, typography is the art of typesetting or organizing type in a logical manner, as well as selecting typefaces (fonts), ensuring proper letter spacing and line spacing, and making sure the interaction with graphic elements is attractive.

Your font selection can tell a lot about how your design is viewed, and it might convey specific ideas or evoke emotions that aren't necessarily intended. We've all been conditioned to attach specific traits to certain fonts based on a lifetime of looking at logos, images, and advertisements.

If your T-shirt design is for a family gathering, for example, the font "Batman Forever" might not be the greatest choice. You should certainly avoid "Comic Sans" if you're trying for a more corporate or professional design.

In reality, Comic Sans should be avoided at all costs.

Standard fonts can be used for a variety of purposes. Other fonts will only be used in particular situations. We see a lot of designs with font names that begin with "A" or "B," indicating that you didn't spend much time choosing your typeface. Look into your alternatives!

It's not uncommon to have to look at a number of typefaces before deciding on the appropriate one.

If you just remember one rule about typography, make it this: never use more than three typefaces in a single design. You will be pursued by the type police.

4. Composition

You may recall learning about composition in high school art class. Every design has elements that are placed in relation to one another, and the final composition is made up of these relationships.


What constitutes a well-designed composition is frequently a matter of opinion. However, there are several basic composition guidelines that, when followed, can greatly improve a design. If you want to learn how to improve your composing game, there are numerous tools available online.

The placement of parts that are too far apart or too close together is a common blunder. Alternatively, the entire design could be off-kilter, leading the eye in the wrong direction. Alternatively, the type could be read in the wrong sequence, which should be avoided at all costs.


Yeah. Put some time and effort into your composition if you're working with a range of pieces. Show it to a few people and ask for their opinion. You can be joyful later if you worry beforehand.

5. Image Quality

One of the most prevalent issues with customer-submitted art files is this. All too often, images are "poor resolution." In other words, they lack sufficient pixel information to provide us with the quality and details required for good print quality.

When you upload low-quality art assets, we'll usually notify you right away and ask if you have anything better. If that is not the case, there are a few things we can take to repair the file. Sometimes there's nothing that can be done, and that bad file may end up as a little less crappy print.

Web images are frequently too small. They're usually 72 dpi and not printed at full size. At full size, images should have a resolution of 200 dpi or higher.

Another issue with low-res images is that they have been compressed, sometimes multiple times, and have visible compression artifacts. Unless you zoom in, you may not be able to see these artifacts. 

The resolution of a vector file is irrelevant because vector files scale perfectly to any size without sacrificing quality. That is why we adore them so much. PDF, EPS, AI, and SVG files are examples of vector files.

Photographs of photographs are another issue of image quality. There will undoubtedly be some issues, such as blurriness, awkward cropping, and graininess. We occasionally receive a photo of a phone with a screenshot of a photo on a computer, believe it or not. Did you hear what I said? It's like the Inception of art submissions.

For the best results, photographs should be scanned at a high resolution. We evaluate all submitted artwork for quality, so send it to us and we'll tell you if it'll work, if it needs to be cleaned up, or if something better is required.

6. Colors

Color selections are critical not only for design purposes, but also for ensuring that the job fits within your budget if you're using screen printing. More colors equals a higher cost per item. Of course, you could always purchase more shirts to lower your per-item cost. More money spent equals more money saved. The logic of sales.

In some cases, we can use a technique called halftones with screen printing, which is essentially tiny dots that can make three or four colors appear to be many more. It's almost magical. There's a lot more to it, and I'll go over it in more detail in a later post. For the time being, check with your sales representative to see if your design qualifies for halftones.

Colors should be considered from the beginning of the design process. Colors can have a variety of effects on people. This is something that advertisers are well aware of, and you should be as well.

If your print method is DTG (direct-to-garment) rather than screen printing, we will be printing in "full color," and the number of colors will no longer be a factor in the budget. As a result, it's an excellent choice for full-color photography. However, the aesthetics of the design as a result of color choices are always taken into account.

It's tempting to use a lot of colors to make your design more vibrant, but this can backfire. If you use too many colors, your design may become unattractive due to the increased likelihood of clashing.

Depending on what you need for an official logo or to properly represent an image, there will almost always be an ideal number of colors or a small range to choose from. If you can achieve your design goals with the fewest colors possible, your shirt will be worn more frequently than if it had all of the rainbow's colors.

In a later post, I'll go over color theory, complementary colors, black and white, tonal ranges, and how to achieve a full-color look with a small number of spot colors using "simulated process."

7. Contrast

Contrast is a part of color selection, but it's a very specific and important consideration. What is contrast, exactly? It's the degree of visual contrast between the image's darker and lighter areas, or how color shades relate to one another.

Black-on-white or vice versa will always have the greatest contrast. Bright colors on a dark background, of course, will have a high contrast.

The overall contrast may be influenced by the design, as well as the content and which colors have the largest surface area or are the most dominating. A dramatic, attention-getting image with vivid colors will help to increase contrast against a neutral background.

The objective isn't always to get the maximum contrast possible. Low-contrast prints are popular because of their gentle appearance. Personally, I'm a huge admirer. However, there's a delicate line between low-contrast and no-contrast, so be cautious. The change may be seen in this sample design.

When a customer wants a very subtle aesthetic, we occasionally print black shirts with black ink, although this is unusual. If you're attempting to set anything up like that, make sure to let us know so that your order doesn't get noted for correction.

Navy ink on black shirts, Light Gray ink on sport gray shirts, and Ice Gray ink on white shirts are all common contrast blunders. We don't advocate these pairings since they are all deemed poor contrast.

8. Complexity


The proverb K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) is well-known, and it applies to T-shirt design just as much as it does to anything else. I believe the word "stupid" was added to complete the acronym.

The human eye can only handle a given amount of information at once, whether it's graphics or not, and with a T-shirt design, you're not only restricted in viewing time, but also a moving target. So keep it straightforward!

9. Borders, Masks & Edges


One or more pictures appear in many of the designs we publish. A photo sitting on a plain-edged shirt might appear monotonous, if not cheap and amateurish. To solve this, simply “draw a border around it”!

When it comes to borders and edges, you have a lot of possibilities. A thin white or black border is the most basic and may quickly improve the appearance. But if you don't want it to be square, you may utilize our Design Studio's "mask" function, which offers you a range of forms to pick from.

Alternatively, you might use a frame, which is a thicker border with beveled edges or ornate features, such as the one shown below.

Take a look at your topic. You could want a beautiful frame if it's an anniversary design. You could want distressed edges if it's a difficult mudder competition.

A "knock out" is when the backdrop is completely obliterated or chopped out of the image, allowing the subject to take center stage. This may make a tremendous impact, especially if the backdrop contains undesired items.

That's all I've got for now. Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the frequent blunders to avoid and are ready to design a fantastic t-shirt.


James Knox

Hi, My Name Is James, I'm A Life Insurance Agent, Photographer, And Dropshipper, Based In Missouri. Welcome To My Blog.

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