How To Design a T-shirt

Designing a shirt can feel like a daunting task, but no fear, you are in the best hands with Yeefu.
by Jestina on 12-Apr-2021
5 mins read

Designing a shirt can feel like a daunting task, especially if you are new to the world of custom apparel design. But no fear, you are in the best hands with Yeefu. We’ve helped thousands of individuals and organizations create amazing designs that their communities love. In this post, we’ll walk through some tips on how you can design a rockin’ t-shirt for your buyers.

Before You Start
While it may be tempting to jump straight into designing your apparel, there are three steps we suggest completing first. Thinking about some of these options before you delve into creating your t-shirt will help make your design and campaign setup go faster and be less stressful.

Set Your Goals
Before you get started with your design, It’s important to have an understanding of what you are setting out to accomplish with your t-shirt campaign. What is the primary goal of your t-shirt campaign? Are you trying to raise a certain amount for a cause or need? Or are you hoping to sell as many shirts as you can to promote your brand or cause? Maybe you’re simply trying to create a sharp-looking shirt for your community.

Establishing a main goal for your t-shirt will help you when it’s time to make design and pricing choices. Set your goals first, and then start making decisions about your t-shirt.

Brainstorm Creative Elements
Take some time to determine the words, imagery, logos, or colors that need to be included in your t-shirt design. It’s important to have a list of guidelines around your design so that you have a starting place when you begin your creative process. It will also help make sure you include everything you need to have on the shirt, which is especially important if you are designing apparel for a specific event or cause.

Gather Design Inspiration
Now for the fun part, gathering inspiration for your design! Collect photos of t-shirt designs you like to help you determine the type of style you want to go for with your shirt. You can check out Yeefu’s Staff Picks, Instagram, or Pinterest to see some of our favorite designs.

Once you have a selection of 3-5 designs that inspire you, take some notes about what you are drawn to in each one. Is there a specific illustration style or font that you would like to use? Is there an ink color pairing you keep falling for?

Designing a T-Shirt Yourself
Let’s get creative! Before you jump onto your computer to start creating your design, think about the garment you will be designing for.

Decide Your Design Placement
There are a few different options to consider when deciding where to print on your shirt. You can print your design large and centered, or shrink your design and put it on the top right side of the shirt as a “pocket print”.  You can also get creative and print your design aligned to the left or right for a more dynamic effect. You may also choose to print a larger design on the back of your shirt. 

Yeefu provides sellers with a printable area box that directly translates to the screens used in the printing process. You can completely fill in this rectangular printable area for the largest print possible, or shrink your design for a smaller print.

The maximum art size that Yeefu can print is 12 inches by 16 inches. These dimensions match the size and proportion of the “printable area” shown in our mockup generator. To help keep costs as low as possible, the same screen is used to print the design on all sizes and styles of the products you choose for your campaign.

Choose Your T-Shirt Colors
Many of the choices you make when creating your t-shirt design itself will be influenced by the color of the t-shirt you choose to print on. If you know the colors of the products you want to print on before beginning the design process, it will save you some time in the long run, and help you choose which ink colors to use so your design and text really “pop” on your shirt when it’s printed.

The most popular t-shirt colors purchased on Yeefu in the last year were Black, Dark Heather Grey, and Midnight Navy.  So, you may want to keep that in mind when thinking through what apparel colors you want to use.

Add Visuals & Graphics
Custom apparel is a great place to reuse and repurpose existing creatives like brand logos and marketing illustrations. Many of these assets already contain imagery, typography and color palettes that resonate with your audience. If you’re creating custom shirts for your business, or organization, sticking with the imagery and colors of your brand is a great place to start.

If you’re designing a shirt for a new business, grassroots cause or personal fundraiser without existing assets, research the themes, passions or interests that tie your network together before you start designing.

Use Typography
If you are struggling to figure out a way to visually represent your brand, cause, or business on a t-shirt, typography could be a great starting place. Broad, appealing phrases will maximize the interest in your shirt and in turn, bring in more sales. Typographic designs are an easy way for anyone to create an awesome t-shirt design, without any expensive design programs.

Select Ink Colours
Picking the colors of the design itself is important when making your t-shirt. The best rule of thumb is to always use light ink colors on a dark shirt and darker ink colors on a light shirt. This creates a contrast between the print and the shirt itself so your design will really “pop”.  While printing black ink on a black shirt may be trending in some audience groups, most buyers would be disappointed if they couldn’t see the shirt design on the t-shirt it was printed on.

Pro Tip: use 1 to 3 colors in your design to maximize your profits or to keep your cost per-shirt as low as possible.

White ink is an easy win and shows up well on most shirt colors. However, if you want to play with more colors in your design, explore complementary colors that create a pleasing mood when used together. We recommend using 3 or fewer colors to maximize your profits and create a clean, aesthetically pleasing design.

Hire a Designer
If you don’t have the time or talent to bring your t-shirt design to life, you can hire one of our talented graphic designer to create it for you.

For as little as RM250, you can get the concierge design experience of your dreams. Simply tell us your vision for the design, and pass along all of your ideas, inspiration, and any sketches you have. Our team of designers will work with you to create a design that fully encapsulates your vision.

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