Including your logo on your T-shirt and making it look believable is not hard at all. If you do it correctly, the effect can really look professional–and will definitely boost your sales.
This is how you add a logo to a T-shirt with the help of very useful and overlooked tool: the Displace filter in Photoshop.
Step 1. The image.
Open your logo file in Photoshop. For this tutorial, I’m using this free vector logo of a flying eagle, something reminiscent of old-school T-shirts that will look nice on the final product. If your logo has a background, before performing any other action, turn off its layer. Select the whole design (Select>All) and copy it (Edit>Copy).
Step 2. Paste as Smart Object.
Open the T-Shirt template in Photoshop. This is the base I will be using in this tutorial. Paste (Edit>Paste) the previously copied logo above the T-Shirt’s template. When the pop-up window appears, select Paste as Smart Object.
Working with a Smart Object will give you more flexibility in manipulating the original design without corrupting the overall quality of the image.
Step 3. Position the logo.
Check the Maintain Aspect Ratio option in Photoshop’s control panel and use the transform handles to scale up/down and rotate the design until it fits the template. Move the logo around to position it adequately on the front of the T-Shirt. When you are done, press Enter to confirm your changes.
Step 4. Create a displacement map.
Disable both the background and logo temporarily and select the T-shirt template. Copy and paste it in front of the original T-shirt. If the image is not already in black and white, apply desaturation to it (Image>Adjustments>Desaturate). You will be using this copy as a displacement map to make the logo wrap around the fabric.
Increase the contrast in the T-shirt’s copy by adjusting its levels (Image>Adjustments>Levels), and then apply a light Gaussian blur (Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur) to it. Save it as a PSD file — this is the displacement map and you will need it in a little while. After saving, you can get rid of the map layer and activate the other layers’ visibility again.
Step 5. The Displace filter.
Select the layer with the logo and go to Filter>Distort>Displace. In the pop-up window, you will have to adjust the horizontal and vertical scale values for the Displace filter. The default for both is 10, and in this case, that will work just fine.
However, the result depends on the images you are working with. If the effect isn’t strong enough, just raise these values; if it’s too much, lower them. When prompted, browse your folders for the PSD file you saved earlier (see Step 4) and confirm your selection to apply the filter.
Step 6. Change the blend mode.
Change the logo’s blend mode to either Multiply or Overlay and lower its opacity to around 75 percent to blend it more effectively with the template underneath.
A realistic product.
Including your logo to a T-Shirt with the help of a displacement map is the easiest way to create a realistic preview of your final product without having a photo of the printed product. Having the logo blend properly with the T-shirt template is necessary to attract potential buyers. But this technique works with any kind of design on any other background, so guard the knowledge well!
Logo design and T-shirt template courtesy of Yougraph and TheApparelGuy. Edited in Illustrator and Photoshop CS5.