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  • Writer's pictureMerlin Graphics

5 simple rules for using the best fonts in your t-shirt design

The font, also known as a typeface, is one of the most important decisions to make on a T-shirt design—or any design. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of typefaces available, and your duty is to select the finest typeface for the task, organize it in an aesthetically acceptable manner, and ensure that your message is conveyed as effectively as possible. This is no easy task.

We won't get too deeply into the art of typography, but whether you're a seasoned designer or a novice, knowing the principles is essential. With five basic principles for using typefaces in your T-shirt design, I'm here to help.

Rule 1: Experiment with different typefaces.

This might take some time, but it's well worth it. Most individuals make the mistake of picking the first typeface they like. Any designer will tell you that choosing the perfect font is a process that requires time to browse through the many alternatives.

Many people simply use the default font, which is a far worse blunder. The default font in several systems is Helvetica, Calibri, or Times New Roman, which are fine typefaces but overused. Helvetica is so well-known that a movie was created about it.

By going over all of your selections, you may avoid using the most overused typefaces. Consider this: do you really want to use the same typeface that the vast majority of others do? Or do you want to make a statement with something unique, or at the very least more appropriate? I believe I have the answer. So, move between them, try out different looks, narrow down a few options, and take screenshots to see if it helps later. Most importantly, give yourself enough time to select the ideal font for your project.

Rule 2: Make your message as legible (Readable) as possible.

That seems like it should be self-evident, right? You'd think so. However, all too frequently, designs are created using difficult-to-read typefaces. The only exception to this rule is when typefaces are used only as design components, such as in a graphic design student's senior project. However, if you're attempting to get a point through, make sure it's legible. Key tips to note include:

  • Display typefaces should be used sparingly.

Display fonts, as opposed to "body fonts" or "text fonts," are the main culprits for making reading difficult. Display typefaces are intended for headlines and titles rather than long paragraphs of text. Italic, bold, and bold italic forms, as well as lowercase letters, are uncommon. They do, however, succeed at what they were created for: grabbing the eye.

Display typefaces should be bigger than the others to create the intended effect. You're going to have a hard time using these fonts for little text or vast expanses of text. Instead, combine these fonts with a traditional serif or a conventional sans-serif for readability and a beautiful graphic contrast.

  • Use attractive "display" typefaces only when absolutely necessary.

Those in the ornamental, script, and gothic categories are another category of offenders. Any typeface with sophisticated or ornate characters, such as curls and accents, will be more difficult to read. Don't even get me started on novelty typefaces based on movie or television program logos. While they may appear to be appealing options, they are troublesome for a variety of reasons.

Remember, we're looking for something that's easily accessible; merely readable isn't good enough. You don't want to make folks work to figure out what you're saying. They'll usually glance at something else when they've finished looking at your design. People's attention spans are so short, and there are so many competing for it, that you just have a few seconds to grab it.

  • Avoid shouting at people. Don't be loud!

Avoiding the use of all capitals is another technique to increase readability. According to studies, lowercase letters are simpler to read than uppercase letters. Not to mention the fact that these days, all caps denotes yelling. NO ONE LIKES TO BE SHOUTED AT!

If that wasn't enough, there's also our primary topic: typefaces, which is another reason to avoid all capitals. When you use full capitals, a lot of typefaces won't function. They're simply not designed to be in the same house. Uppercase letters are intended to appear at the start of words and interact with the lowercase letters that should appear after them. So, must we refrain from using all caps? People, believe it or not, do this. As you can see, it is ineffective.

  • Proportionally scale your typefaces.

While we're at it, don't stretch or distort typefaces unless you're sure you're doing it right. This is a typical beginner mistake because individuals stretch and distort the type to fit a specific amount of space in the clothing. The issue is that it makes the writing more difficult to read and appear amateurish. Fonts aren't supposed to be stretched or deformed in any way. If you want something taller or broader, choose one that is taller or wider.

• Establish a visual hierarchy.

Creating a visual hierarchy is the most important thing you can do to ensure that your message is easily readable. Organize your message so that it isn't too long. When confronted with a wall of text, some people may decide not to read it. It may sound ridiculous, but attempting to decipher what someone is attempting to say through a design requires some mental effort.

Assist them by using your design to organize the information in a way that is simply consumable. Show them what they should read first, second, and third. This may be accomplished in a variety of ways, and it's ideal to employ a combination of them all:

  • The first and most apparent approach to building visual hierarchy is through type order. We all read from top to bottom and left to right.

  • Dimensions of the type: The more information you have to display, the more size levels you may have. The most significant is the most significant, and so on.

  • Color: The bigger the contrast, such as white on black and vice versa, the more crucial it is. The eye will be drawn to bright hues.

  • Treatment and consequences of the type Outlines, underlining, shadows, textures, and 3D effects are all used in this project. Use them only when absolutely necessary (more on that later).

  • Fonts to consider: Choose typefaces that contrast and complement one another, resulting in a unified design. So, how many should you use?

Rule 3: Use no more than three typefaces.

When it comes to typefaces, the saying "less is more" is accurate. "One is lonely, two is company, and three is a throng," as the old proverb goes.Not to mention the fact that three is the magic number. Like Mickey Mouse as the wizard's apprentice in Fantasia, you lose control of your magical abilities after that. That is something that no one wants. So limit yourself to three typefaces at most.

When you use more than three, things start to look a little strange and jumbled up like a ransom letter. It throws your visual hierarchy into disarray. When there are too many typefaces, the reader's brain has to work harder to figure out what's going on, what to read first, and what's most important: your message gets lost, and your branding loses its consistency.

Use one strong or unique display font for the primary element of your message, such as your title or business name, to create a visual hierarchy with several typefaces. Then select a smaller secondary font that will convey more information. The third font should be used for a tagline or less crucial text.

To establish a hierarchy, one of the typefaces should be prominent. One should be more attention-getting in some way, and the other should remain silent. Consider it like a good comic duo: a straight guy is required. If your typeface has a bold, outgoing personality, pair it with something neutral, restrained, and non-comedic.

Your typefaces should not conflict at the same time. Many typefaces should never be used together, whether they convey distinct emotions, represent different subjects, or just don't look good together. I could give you a number of examples, but you should be able to recognize it when you see them. Rule number one: try out different typefaces.

Avoid using typefaces that are too similar to one another. While you want your design to have some consistency, picking typefaces that are too similar or have too little contrast might be an issue. Because the typefaces aren't different enough from one another, a reader can have problems understanding the visual hierarchy. And any discrepancies might appear to be a mistake. Squint your eyes and place them next to each other. They're too close if you can't tell the difference.

Rule 4: Use fonts that are appropriate for the situation.

Fonts, whether you realize it or not, may convey a lot more information than the words themselves. Characters change depending on the typeface—no pun intended. They have the ability to elicit emotions and generate strong first impressions. A typeface may quickly indicate the type of business, brand, club, team, band, or film that the design is about.

People are told what they're expected to think and feel about what they're reading by the typeface they're using. This is when knowing your target market or audience comes in handy. It's typically not difficult to figure out, but if you're unsure, it's never a bad idea to conduct some research. Who is going to wear these tees? Consider not just their preferences and expectations, but also what you want to convey to them about your product, business, or campaign.

Will your message be received well? Will it convey the incorrect message, or will it deliver the wrong message? Will it, above all, make people want to wear the shirt?

Rule 5: Don't overuse effects.

Is there a pattern here with the word "sparingly"? Type effects, including show fonts and ornamental fonts, should be used for titles and bigger type only, not for small type. Remember that if everything is unique, nothing is.

Having said that, Merlin Graphics can help you create some very fantastic t-shirt designs with the most appropriate font type. We offer a large font library that may help you make your apparel designs genuinely stand out.

Identifying the many types of fonts and their properties can be difficult, especially if you are new to the art of clothing printing. Whether you're searching for a modern and fashionable font or something gothic, Merlin Graphics provides a variety of product alternatives to pick from.

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