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  • Writer's pictureMerlin Graphics

Top 10 T-Shirt Design Tips For Better Custom Prints

If you're looking to personalize a custom T-shirt or design custom gear, our simple design method may assist you in creating seamless personalized apparel from start to finish.

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Everyone appreciates a well-designed T-shirt. But what creates an eye-catching design that people will want to wear again and again? Despite the fact that some of the finest designs appear to be basic, even the simplest designs must avoid the most common blunders in order to attain greatness.

1. Choose a print size that isn't too large.

There are certain things in life that are unaffected by size, but a t-shirt design is not one of them. Talk to us in detail about all measurements and sizes you need.

The function of the shirt, the features of the garment, and the characteristics of the pattern itself should all be considered when determining the size of the design. Keep in mind that certain forms, such as circles and squares, appear better when scaled down. Consider the print's whole surface area, not simply its width and height.

2. Ensure proper placement.

Print placement is not the same as printing location. It's the precise measurement of where the design should be printed within the space.

Make sure you have a compelling justification for choosing a distinctive print position. Many individuals who aren't familiar with T-shirt design are unaware that a normal full front placement does not fall midway between the top and bottom of the garment. It's around 4 inches from the collar. The belly print is a common blunder, and it's never flattering.

3. Pay special attention to typefaces and typography.

Typography is the visual arrangement of words in their most basic form (not to be confused with the font, which is the style of the text). Typography is used whenever text is written or presented, whether it is pretty or not is another issue.

Typography is the art of typesetting in graphic design. This includes arranging type in a logical manner, selecting appropriate typefaces (fonts), ensuring proper letter spacing and line spacing, and creating the way words interact with visual components to be aesthetically acceptable.

To get the typeface correct, you don't need to be a professional artist. All you have to do is follow a few simple guidelines. Certain common typefaces will appear well in almost any situation, while others will only look good in particular situations. Taking the time to consider your alternatives is definitely worth the effort.

Here are some general guidelines to follow while designing a T-shirt:

  • The most significant words should be bolded and placed at the top of the page.

  • Avoid using large block letters. It's not like you're designing the side of a bus.

  • Using typefaces with different styles creates visual appeal, but don't go overboard.

  • Take into account where you place your line breaks; they influence how your content is read.

  • Layout the typography such that it interacts with the visuals in a thoughtful way.

  • Avoid adding writing immediately on top of visuals that are already busy. It can make reading considerably more difficult.

  • Textures and drop shadows, for example, should be utilized sparingly if at all.

4. Pay attention to the composition.

You may recall learning about composition in high school art class. Every design contains parts that are placed in relation to one another, and the final composition is made up of these relationships. It's all about composition in good design.

Although you may believe that a pleasing composition is subjective, adhering to a few basic criteria may substantially improve a design. As the saying goes, learn the rules first, then violate them. If you want to learn how to enhance your composing game, there are several tools available online.

If you're dealing with a lot of different pieces, give your composition some thought. Compare and contrast a few distinct layouts. Find out what your friend thinks. Worry first, and then relax. You may recall learning about composition in high school art class. Every design contains parts that are placed in relation to one another, and the final composition is made up of these relationships. It's all about composition in good design.

5. Keep hold of the image quality.

One of the most prevalent issues with customer-supplied art files is poor resolution pictures. That is, they do not have enough pixel information to provide us with the quality and details required for acceptable print quality. At full size, photos should have a resolution of 200 dpi or above. The optimum resolution is up to 300 dpi. Web images are normally 72 dpi, not the size needed for printing.

Remember that the print will only be as clear as the image we start with, so choosing a high-quality image is essential.

6. Use colors with caution.

One of the most crucial selections is what color to choose. Not only for design considerations, but also to ensure that the task falls within your budget if you want screen printing. More colors mean a higher per-item cost. Screen printing is typically used for solid colors with a limited color pallet.

At Merlin Graphics, you may choose from a large range of in-house ink colors, or if you require special colors for your business, we can provide perfect Pantone color matching. If you choose DTG over screen printing, we'll print in full color, so the quantity of colors is no longer a factor in the budget. It's fantastic for gradients and mixes.

The number of colors that should be used is three. Any more is superfluous and makes you appear like a clown. Aesthetically, the way the design looks due to color selections is always a factor, regardless of the print process. It's tempting to use a lot of colors to make a design pop, but this might backfire. If you use too many colors, your design may become unattractive due to the increased likelihood of clashing.

There will nearly always be an optimal number of colors or a limited variety of colors to pick from. Try to fulfill your design goals with as few colors as feasible; consumers will wear the shirt more frequently if it simply matches wearable palettes rather than the entire visible spectrum.

7. Think about the contrast.

Contrast is a component of color selection, but it's a distinct and crucial factor to consider. But what is the contrast, exactly? It's the degree of visual contrast between the image's darker and brighter areas, or how color tones relate to one another.

Low-contrast designs are more subtle, whereas high-contrast designs are easier to read and more in-your-face. Black-on-white, or vice versa, will always have the greatest contrast. Bright colors on a dark backdrop will create a lot of contrast.

The objective isn't always to get the maximum contrast possible. Low-contrast prints are popular because of their gentle appearance. Low contrast is used by some of the top designers. However, the distinction between it and no-contrast is thin.

8. Negative images should be inverted.

Inversion is a typical procedure that must be completed, especially when printing light ink on black clothes. You generally don't want your shot to look like an x-ray unless there's a good reason for it.

When converting a negative to a positive image, it's common to need to add a white outline. It's advisable to hire someone to accomplish this for you unless you're a designer or at least conversant with graphics applications.

Our art department would gladly assist you for no charge. Include a message with your order detailing your goals, or speak with one of our project professionals who can assess your artwork and advise you on the best course of action.

9. Stay away from overcomplicating things.

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. "Stupid" was most likely included to round out the acronym. It's impolite, but it's sound counsel. Whether or not it has graphics, the human eye can only process a given amount of data at a time. You have limited viewing time with a T-shirt design, and you're generally a moving target. So keep it straightforward.

You don't want folks to have to work too hard to find out what's on your tee. Remove everything that competes with or isn't required to express your message once you've chosen one key picture or topic.

If you're not sure when to say what, our talented design team can help.

10. Include borders, masks, and edges in your design.

A photo of a person sitting on a plain-edged shirt might appear monotonous, if not cheap and amateurish. Putting a border around it is a simple option. Borders and edges come in a variety of styles. A thin white or black border is the most basic and may quickly improve the appearance. However, it's possible that you don't want it to be square.

Alternatively, you might use a broader border with beveled edges or ornate features, which is known as a frame. Take a look at your topic. You might want a beautiful frame if it's an anniversary design. You could want damaged edges for a competitive mudder competition. Creating a company tee? You're searching for something tidy and professional.

If you don't have Photoshop or another image editing program and want any of these treatments, include a request with your order that explains what you want. If you want to try it out for yourself, there are a number of free image editors available online that operate similarly to Photoshop. Take a look at these.

For further tips and inspiration, look for real-life examples of T-shirt design upgrades. After you have the expertise and confidence in a great design, contact Merlin Graphics to produce your own fantastic T-shirt!

Have fun creating!


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