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Oct 12, 2020

T-shirt Design 101: Factors to Consider When Designing the Perfect T-shirt (+13 T-shirt Design Ideas!)

Creating T-shirt designs isn't very hard. This article will discuss some of the basic factors to consider when making T-shirt designs and give you some popular design ideas that you can easily imitate!

While designing a T-shirt can feel like a daunting task especially for beginners, the overall experience is enjoyable and rewarding as you get to show off your creativity. If you are tempted to jump straight into designing your custom apparel, please consider first some of the factors that make up a perfect T-shirt design. Because a lot of people miss this part, they usually make mistakes and fail to achieve the greatest designs. In this article, we will list down the factors you should bear in mind as you design your first printed masterpiece. Check them out below!

Factors to Consider when Designing T-shirts


Colors play a significant role in designing a T-shirt. According to research, colors have effects on people's moods and well-being. When choosing what color to use, you should consider what message it will convey to people. Also, how the design looks as a whole greatly depends on your color choices, aesthetically speaking. While it can be tempting to add all of the colors of the rainbow into your masterpiece, it can sometimes turn out ugly and clownish. Try incorporating the least amount of colors possible into your T-shirt design to avoid clashing.


Do you believe that the more complex the design is, the better it would look? Sorry to burst your bubble, but no, complexity doesn't make the design more beautiful. People tend to make this mistake as they get a little carried away with trying to be creative. For your information, the human eye can only process a certain amount of information at once. So if you are stacking various designs on top of each other, you are only making a chaotic mess and people will have a hard time figuring out what is on your T-shirt. In fact, the greatest T-shirt designs are clean and simple!


A well-composed T-shirt design must be your aim when creating custom apparel. The design elements should be arranged well in relation to each other—not too spaced out nor too bunched up. Also, be careful so that your design doesn't draw the eye to the wrong place or the typography could be read in the wrong order. When working with various elements, it helps to show the design to other people and hear their opinion. Listening to their feedback might help you improve your composition.


When picking the colors to use, you should also consider the contrast between the design and the color of the T-shirt. Basically, contrast pertains to the degree of visual difference between two elements or how different colors correspond to each other. The general rule of thumb is to use light colors on dark shirts and dark colors on light shirts to create a contrast between the print and the shirt itself. You'll be disappointed if you couldn't see the design you planned out printed on the T-shirt.


Incorporating some texts to your design is more complicated than you expect. It's not only about adding your favorite quote on the T-shirt; it requires more effort than that. You have to arrange the text in a way that it makes sense, choose the right fonts, make sure that the spacing between the letters and lines are correct, and see if it suits well with the rest of the graphic elements. The typeface or font the texts are written in affects how the message will be conveyed to people. It should evoke the right emotions and not be misunderstood.


The placement of the design is not solely deciding where to print on the shirt. It also involves the specific measurement of where to place the design within the chosen location. For example, you can choose to make the design large and place it in the center or shrink the design and put it on the top left side of the shirt. Some even have decided to put a large design on the back of their T-shirt. Yes, the placement of the design is yours to decide. Just be careful, as a design placed in the wrong location might turn heads for the wrong reasons.


Size does matter in designing T-shirts. It can make or break a design. While most people usually go with the standard sizing, you should not follow the crowd. Size should be based on the nature or shape of the design. Another factor to consider is the size of the garment to be printed on. If you are creating a design for petite ladies or kids, then the size should be reduced to fit the size of the T-shirt. The same goes for big men—enlarge the size of the design so it won't get drowned from all of the fabric.

Also Read:
10 Ways to Impress Your Friends With Oversized Shirts

13 T-shirt Design Ideas To Try

T-shirt design trends come and go every year. Do you know what is constant? Your preference and personality. Surely, you are wearing shirts that define your taste and choice. When making T-shirt designs, think of what reflects your attitude the most. If you are out of ideas, here are some design ideas that you can copy. Don't forget to add a personal twist!


The abstract design conveys deep feelings and says something more profound about you even without the use of words. To put it simply, the abstract design expresses your emotions visually. In making a compelling abstract T-shirt design, you can use a combination of colorful and creative strokes, lines, shapes, and colors which will represent the message you want to convey in your design. Because this type of T-shirt design can be made based on what you feel, there are no limitations.


Kids are not the only ones who can wear T-shirts with cartoon characters on them. Even those who are young at heart can incorporate this design idea on their T-shirts. Whether you are a lover of cartoons or not, you can copy the funny and entertaining images and make cartoon-themed T-shirts. This type of design is fun and can add a playful twist to your usual tee. Just have one or two of them in your closet and you can readily wear them whenever you want to unleash the kid inside of you.

Faux Pocket

If you are not a fan of tees with actual pockets, then you may want to print a faux pocket design on your T-shirt. Of course, you would have to place your design on the location where a pocket should be—on the top left side of the shirt. To make this incredibly popular and cool T-shirt design, you can create small logos, texts, or designs that look like they just came out from the "pocket." Faux pocket prints have been proven to be a good opportunity to promote messages in a subtle yet creative and impactful way.


Because of the wide variety and exotic nature of feathers, anyone can get a T-shirt design inspiration from them. Feather designs exude positive vibes because of its vibrant colors and intricate prints. The usual feather designs used for T-shirts are inspired by peacocks, songbirds, and birds of paradise. When used as a T-shirt design, feathers can give its wearer a splash of joy and subtly brighten her day. You should have at least one feather-designed T-shirt in your wardrobe that you can readily wear whenever you need an instant mood boost.


The floral T-shirt design is said to have a wide array of symbolism. It can represent happiness, hope, romance, beauty, femininity, and growth. And if you want to try the floral design, you are lucky, as the options for this design are infinite. For instance, you can design your T-shirt with real images of flowers, delicate hand-drawn flowers, or use floral designs to embellish your typography design and frame words that hold the most weight in the masterpiece.


Gothic is all about adding some mysterious elements in order to create unique graphic designs. Among the elements that you can use to make a gothic T-shirt design are skeletons, pirate skulls, illustrated mythical sea creatures, vintage typography, dead trees, graphic Japanese waves, and more. Gothic illustrations are considered impressive and the mysterious vibe they exude grab the attention of the people and keep them interested.


In recent years, a lot of people have started following the "less is more" theory. Minimalist designs have become popular, not only in architecture but also in the fashion world. We have seen T-shirts that feature small texts written across the chest, reflecting the minimalist approach to say only what needs to be said and nothing more. Creating a simple T-shirt with a word or phrase that clearly conveys your point, whether inspirational or funny, is all that we can ask for.


As the fight for the environment intensifies, we can do our part by reminding people to appreciate nature. We can do so by incorporating nature-inspired designs on our shirts. One of the most popular imagery choice for nature-themed apparels are mountains. Mountains have been long linked with challenges, setting goals, and achieving them. So if you are an adventurous gal that loves nature, you would surely love to have the beauty of the mountains as your T-shirt design. Add some texts for extra impact. Aside from mountains, you can also incorporate some other nature-inspired designs such as plants, the ocean, and parks.


Patterns such as checkered and plaid have been a popular T-shirt design in recent years. If you are often confused between the two, here's something you need to know: Checkered patterns consist of alternating blocks of different colors while plaid patterns are formed from crisscrossing lines of varying widths in two to three colors. The contrast of textures between the pattern and the garment to be printed on looks very trendy. Patterns can be incorporated into various shapes, images, and texts to create a cool T-shirt design.

Pet Portraits

There are a lot of animal influencers on social media who have a habit of sharing images of their pets, whether it is a dog, a cat, or any other animal, to anyone who is interested. In fact, the accounts of these pet lovers have garnered thousands, if not millions, of followers. If you have a pet yourself, you may also want to feature your beloved one on your custom-made T-shirt! This way, you can show off your furry friend and label yourself as a pet lover.


Rainbows signify peace and calmness. Have you ever noticed that whenever we look at a rainbow, we feel happy and uplifted? Incorporating a colorful rainbow design to your T-shirt will evoke joy and hope and make people smile. You can also add some inspirational words or phrases to bring extra meaning to your bright rainbow design.


If you want your T-shirt design to be a cause of nostalgia, then you should incorporate some retro elements into it. You can make use of retro font styles in psychedelic reds, yellows, and pinks if you want to express the 60s and 70s groovy and beachy vibes. For the 80s era, you can use bright hues and add some basic geometric shapes and zig-zaggy doodles. The 90s grunge fashion style also deserves to be featured on a shirt. Just remember that in order to achieve the retro look, you should use the right typeface and color palette.

Also Read:
Vintage-Inspired Fashion Trends By Decade That Modern Women Can Wear

Repeated Text

Typography designs are among the most popular T-shirt trends nowadays. As we have already mentioned about the minimalist typography above, we will be focusing now on another type of typography: the repeated text. This typography style is the best one to use when saying a statement once doesn't seem to be enough and you should say it a little louder for the people in the back, that is, to put further emphasis on the message. A surefire way to get your point understood, the repeated text design can be made using a couple of different colors or layers that will give the text more weight.

The information above should help you to create an awesome T-shirt and avoid the common mistakes a lot of designers have made. Moreover, the design ideas should serve as an inspiration to you as you venture into T-shirt designing. We know that you could unleash your creative side and be able to add a personal touch to each shirt that you make. As this year comes to a close, we are excited to see new design trends that will find their way into the fashion world in 2021!

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