T-shirts are a fun and relaxed part of our wardrobes. They also can make a statement, promote an event, or be given as a present. Rather than pay someone else to design a t-shirt for you or limit yourself to the ready-to-print designs you’d find, in this tutorial you will learn how to design a t-shirt of your own in Adobe Photoshop CS5.
Step 1. Plan the design.
Start your design project by sketching or making notes for your design. Think about the end goal you want your shirt to accomplish and what resources or images you will use.
TIP: Look for inspiration online. I found these on BustedTees.com. You can find some really interesting ideas in terms of color combinations and use of text.
Step 2. Choose a shirt and a printer.
Do some research, online and through friends, to find a quality t-shirt and t-shirt printer. In choosing the type of t-shirt, think about who will wear it—men, women, or children? In what kind of climate will the shirt be worn? How many T-shirts do you plan to make? Keep these things in mind when you're picking your printer.
TIP: To help picture the final design, use a picture of the actual T-shirt to lay out your design.
Step 3. Choose your photo or design.
If you are not using your own photo or design you made yourself, be sure that you select a public-domain image, which is free, or you can purchase a stock photo or design.
TIP: The image must be 300 dpi for high-quality printing.
Step 4. Set up the document.
Open Photoshop and, depending on the size you want your design to be, make the appropriate selections.
Step 5. Place your image.
Go to File>Place. When the Place window appears, find the photo or design file on your computer and click Place. The image will appear, click on the move tool at the top of the left hand tool bar. A window will ask if you want to place the image. Click place.
Step 6. Add your effects.
Double-click the image layer on the layer palette to pull up the Layer Style menu. Here you can add shadows, glows, gradients, or borders (stroke).
TIP: you can also select Image and Adjustments to play with the color of the photo.
Step 7. Insert text.
Add any message or writing that you would like on the shirt by selecting the text tool on the left hand tool bar and clicking anywhere on the canvas. With the text highlighted you can use the menu at the top to change the font, font size, or font color. Keep in mind that the color of the text should stand out against the background it is placed on, and the font should be easy to read.
Step 8. Create outlines.
For t-shirt designs, printers usually request that you create outlines on any text that you use. To do that, select the text layer in the layer menu and go down to Type and select Convert to Shape.
TIP: Once you convert the text to a shape, you can no longer edit the text, so double-check your spelling and grammar, making sure that the text says exactly what you want it to say.
Step 9. Make a test shirt.
Before ordering a large quantity, have a sample or two made to be sure neither you nor the printer need to make any kind of adjustments. If you want a smaller quantity, you may choose to print the design and iron on to your shirt. Larger projects can be sent to a t-shirt printer. Generally, the more shirts you order, the smaller the unit price.
TIP: If you choose to have a shirt screen printed, I recommend you use professional software and ask the printer how to prepare the file.
Designing your own t-shirt can be a fun project. It is a great skill to learn for celebrations, gifts, or to use for your business. For the best results, be sure you check and double check your work, use high resolution, non-licensed images, and high quality t-shirts at a reliable t-shirt printer.