Believe it or not, designing a memorable T-shirt is possible, even if it looks like everything has been done already.
Centered graphics are the way to go for most designers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try something different. Off-center graphics offer many original possibilities for creative minds.
Step 1. The importance of an idea.
Developing an off-center T-shirt requires more time and planning.
Any good quality artwork can look OK if you print it in the dead center of a nice T-shirt, but to make an off-center T-shirt interesting and eye-catching, you have to experiment and be truly inventive.
Step 2. The choice of the tools.
The basic requirements to make a T-shirt, off-centered or not, are the right materials and tools, which include:
- Sketchbook and pencil.
- Flatbed scanner.
- Any up-to-date image editor capable of sharp results.
- A printer capable of high-quality prints.
- Adequate level of ink for the printer.
- Transferable iron-on paper compatible with the printer.
- A fine cotton T-shirt, ready for printing.
- An iron to transfer the design to the fabric.
If you are letting a professional service handle the printing, you will not need some of these items, but take the time to follow the printing process as closely as you can.
Step 3. Creation of the artwork.
Putting your idea on paper will help you visualize the final product and achieve better results. Sketching will help your creative side, so don’t be afraid to spend time with pencil and paper.
When you have a clear concept in your mind, you can start making adjustments. If you have a good sketch you want to use, you can scan it to refine it in your preferred image editor. If you are proficient with computer graphics, you can work directly with digital software.
Simple ideas with a definite theme are usually what will work best for T-shirt graphics. When in doubt, stick to them.
Step 4. External printers.
Normal online printing services won’t let you print your custom T-shirt with off-center graphics.
The easiest solution is to either contact a local printer for specific arrangements or print the graphics on your home printer and apply them to your T-shirt.
If you have decent inkjet printer with suitable ink and you don’t have to print hundreds of T-shirts, the latter will be the cheapest solution.
Step 5. The printing and ironing stages.
Remember to flip your artwork horizontally to ensure it will print as you want. Before printing on your transfer iron-ons, test on plain paper and make all the required adjustments.
After printing, carefully follow the instructions on your iron-ons to know about ironing temperatures and other special handling recommendations. Lay your T-shirt flat either on your ironing board or on another even surface.
Take the time to position the transfer paper on the area where the design should be. Pass your warm iron over the transfer paper evenly, and then let if cool before peeling it off.
Going off center.
T-shirts with centered graphics are so common that anybody can do them. That’s why going off-center is the way to go. They aren’t hard to make. All you have to do is plan and imagine the final results.
Sample image by FreeVector.com. Edited in Illustrator CS5.