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The Smashing Book #5

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The Ultimate Round-Up Of T-Shirt Design Tutorials


Among all of the graphic designers in the world, many of them have probably had a go at designing some cool artwork for t-shirts. The t-shirt, after all, is one of the world’s most purchased products, and a lot of us wouldn’t know what to do without them!

If you have yet to design for apparel goods, today is your lucky day! Below, we present over 20 useful t-shirt graphic tutorials written by fellow designers, followed by a selection of great resources (such as vector apparel mock-up templates), an inspirational showcase to get your brain thinking and some great websites where you can submit your new t-shirt graphics.

You may be interested in the following related posts:

T-Shirt Graphic Tutorials Link

Create a Balanced T-Shirt Graphic4

  • Work with vector image tools to trace stock photos.
  • Learn how to make great compositions.

Balanced T-Shirt Graphic5

How to Design a T-Shirt on a Budget and a Tight Deadline6

  • Use existing vector packs to produce new graphics.
  • Work with limited color schemes.

Designing on a budget and tight deadline7

T-Shirt Design in Photoshop8

  • Work with the Saturation Settings to manipulate photos.
  • Use the Circular Marquee Tool to produce custom shapes.

T-Shirt Design in Photoshop9

Super-Slick Screen-Printing Separations with Illustrator10

  • Set up documents and bleeds ready for screen printing.
  • Use Calligraphic Brushes to trace photographs.
  • Separate colors to be ready for screen printing.

Screen Printing Separations11

How to Create Photorealistic T-Shirt Mock-Ups12

  • Use apparel templates to produce realistic digital mock-ups.
  • Use layer masks to hide unwanted areas of a graphic.

Photorealistic T-Shirt Mock-Ups13

Screen Printing Effects14

  • Simulate silk screen imperfections in Photoshop.
  • Learn how to use alpha channels.

Screen Printing Effects15

Create a Custom T-Shirt Stencil Design16

  • Create stencils for your t-shirt artwork.
  • Use craft knifes and spray paint to produce home-made t-shirts.

Custom T-Shirt Stencil Design17

Screen Printing Tricks18

  • Get your hands dirty and produce home-made screen-printed t-shirts.
  • Use various objects from around the home to save money on one-off production tees.

Screen Printing Tricks19

Separating Colors for Screen Printing in Photoshop20

  • Use the Magic Wand Tool to select individual colors.
  • Use registration marks to help line up artwork when screen printing.

Separating Colors for Screen-Printing21

How to Win at Design by Humans22

  • Learn tips and tricks for submitting your artwork to Design by Humans.
  • Use Pantone Color books to get your colors correct.

How to win at Design by Humans23

How to Prepare Artwork for Screen Printing in Illustrator24

  • Use various Pathfinder Tools to separate your colors.
  • Use the Magic Wand Tool to select individual colors.

Prepare Artwork for Screen-Printing25

Designing Ultra SceneXCore Apparel26

  • Manipulate stock photos using various tools.
  • Use existing vector images to spice up your artwork.

Ultra SceneXCore Apparel27

Create a Three-Color Illustration for Screen-Printing28

  • Separate colors in Photoshop to be ready for screen printing.
  • Learn about trapping to avoid slight alignment on press.

Three-Color Illustration for Screen-Printing29

Easy Color Separations for Screen-Printing in Photoshop30

  • Learn the process of screen printing and how it all works.
  • Learn how to separate your artwork colors in Photoshop.

Color Separations for Screen-Printing31

How to Create Awesome T-Shirt Mock-Ups like Jimiyo32

  • Use the Transform Tool to correctly position your artwork.
  • Use the highlight and shadow levels to give your digital mock-up a realistic look.

Awesome T-Shirt Mock-Ups33

DIY Vintage T-Shirts34

  • Combine Photoshop and Illustrator to produce stunning artwork.
  • Use an imported sketch as a guideline.

DIY Vintage T-Shirts35

Rapid-Fire Illustration Tutorial36

  • Use the Live Trace Tool to quickly and effectively trace traditional ink drawings.
  • Use the Pen Tool to create custom shapes.

Rapid-Fire Illustration37

How to Create a T-Shirt from Scratch38

  • Use various Photoshop Tools to create custom shapes.
  • Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool to delete unwanted areas of artwork.

T-Shirt from Scratch39

Create a Complete Apparel Tech Pack40

  • Learn how to prepare your files correctly.
  • Learn how to separate colors correctly.

Complete Apparel Tech Pack41

CMYK Process Printing for the Emerging T-Shirt Designer42

  • Learn how to mix existing resources to create a good composition.
  • Work with unusual color schemes to produce eye-catching artwork.

CMYK Process Printing43

Digital T-Shirt Mock-Up Resources Link

After giving a few of the above tutorials the once over, you should have enough knowledge to begin making your own separated t-shirt artwork. Below are several links we have collected to help you present your work in the most stylish way possible.

GoMedia Ultimate Apparel Vector Collection44
GoMedia Ultimate Apparel Vector Collection45

Freebie T-Shirt Template46
Freebie T-Shirt Template

T-Shirt Templates: Free and Paid47
T-Shirt Templates: Free and Paid48

Free Blank Vector Clothing49
Free Blank Vector Clothing50

Huge Collection of T-Shirt Design Mock-Up Templates51
Collection of T-Shirt Mock-Up Templates52

VIP Mock-Up Templates53
VIP Mock-Up Templates54

T-Shirt Inspiration Link

Now you’ve got everything you need… except maybe for some ideas! Take a look at these great inspirational posts to help you get your thinking cap on!

Where To Sell And Submit Your Artwork Link

Below we have collected various online stores and open-ended competitions that invite you to submit your t-shirt designs, with the chance of getting them printed and taking home some well-earned cash!

  • Design by Humans68
    An ongoing design contest and community where artists and t-shirt lovers can create, buy and talk about everything related to art and t-shirts.
  • Threadless69
    Threadless is a community-based tee-shirt company with an ongoing open call for design submissions.
  • Teetonic70
    Teetonic is about passion for design. It wants to create the best t-shirts and is always open for submissions.
  • Allmightys71
    Submit designs to win tees, commisions, fame, friends and more!
  • Oddica72
    Submit your artwork for a chance to earn 41% of every sale made.
  • Zazzle73
    Make money online by selling your designs on hundreds of retail-quality products! It’s free and easy.
  • Cafepress74
    Design, make and sell your t-shirts.
  • La Fraise75
    This is pretty much the French version of Design by Humans.
  • Spreadshirt76
    Create your own t-shirt shop for free, and fill it with your very own designs.
  • BigCartel77
    BigCartel is a simple shopping cart for artists. Create an account and start selling!

You may be interested in the following related posts:


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Callum Chapman is a self-employed blogger and graphic/web designer. He has recently launched a blog dedicated to visual inspiration for designers, photographers and artists called The Inspiration Blog.

  1. 1

    Does anyone know how to actually know how to start selling T-Shirts online?

    Say.. I start with 10 T-shirt designs..Is it easier to mass produce T-shirts or create T-Shirts as the order comes in?

  2. 2

    I love t-shirt design. Thanks for the great post, especially those resources.

  3. 3

    I found this awesome tshirt tutorial (made by david from iloveyourshirt) some years ago.

  4. 4

    Cool graphics, i just find t-shit graphic trends change too quickly. but, cool stuff.

  5. 5

    This article is a great starting resource for sure.

    jacob bannon of converge does some amazing t-shirt artwork. check out his site: he sells most of his stuff through his record lable deathwish inc.

  6. 6

    This rocks!

    My friend does screen printing and we’ve been recently talking about possibly opening a T-Shirt design business.

    This should help with a lot of what we were talking about :)

  7. 7

    Cool stuff! thanks!

  8. 8

    What a great roundup!!! I’ve recently starting doing more t-shirt design and I can’t wait to dig in to more of these articles. For me, the 4th one from the top (Super-Slick Screen-Printing Separations with Illustrator) was REALLY helpful!

    By the way, you forgot about Shirt.Woot! derbies ( for places you can submit your artwork and get paid!

  9. 9

    Wow! Thanx. I can remember I requested for some T-shirt design from you guys. Nice to see these come out.

  10. 10

    this new thing you do on round ups, telling what techniques are covered, is awesome!!! thanks for the posts!!

  11. 11

    Thanks for the list of resources, I can never remember them when I’m looking for them.

  12. 12

    The article about “CMYK Process Printing for the Emerging T-Shirt Designer” points to another article.

    (SM) Thanks, it is fixed now.

  13. 13

    Nice roundup. Although i miss as a source of inspiration…

  14. 14

    Mike, your question is kind of vague. If you’ve already printed the shirts, you can setup a webpage with a shopping cart and start publicizing it. Or, use Printfection, Zazzle, or Cafepress to print on demand.

    Good luck!

    Below are my examples of a Printfection site and also a site for shirts I printed: – Viking, Celtic, Spartan, Roman, and more t-shirts – the ultimate Scotland shirt

  15. 15

    This is exactly what i’ve been looking for. Thanks SM!

  16. 16


    It’s going to be more expensive to make them as they’re ordered. It’s always cheaper to mass produce t-shirts because of screen printing costs. Call up a screen printer and ask them how much it costs for to do 1 shirt compared to 101 shirts.

  17. 17

    Thanks for the AMAZING list of tutorials!

  18. 18

    This is great! just got home and this was on my RSS. Earlier today a client asked me to do a t-shirt mock-up and this will be a big help! Smashing Mag to rescue again!

  19. 19

    And don’t forget the cool t-shirts featured on Justice’s video “Dance”!

  20. 20

    Glad you all like it guys.

    @Mike: The more you get printed, the cheaper each ‘unit’ will cost – although if you’re just starting out it would probably be best going a long the lines of printed on demand with Cafepress etc. Or alternatively you could look at screen-printing the shirts yourself? It’s quite expensive to get set-up but if you’re t-shirts are well designed and are of good quality you’ll make your money back in no time ;)

    @Oliver: Great song and a great video, I forgot about that!

  21. 21

    What a great post!!
    When designing a t-shirt…what size and dpi sould i use??

  22. 22

    May I suggest also Monsieur Poulet (for Mister Chicken) – the french shop for fairtrade teeshirts. Also in France, the well known Agnes B brand currently runs a teeshirt contest : (soRRRy, only foRR fRRench speackinGGe)

  23. 23

    The best is the first. Balance is something most artists struggle with and J3’s tutorial helps explain some of that. Thanks for the links guys!!

  24. 24

    Great collection of resources for would-be designers. At Indigo we get a large number of novice designers each month and this post would be a great starting place for many who want to get into professional t-shirt printing.

  25. 25

    ummmm some thing new and awesome. I stopped all my official work and started my t-shirt tutorial. My boss saw the posting and demanded me the link to buy one…

  26. 26

    I found these other great t-shirt designs the other day. Quality of the designs are great got myself couple of them, and the coolest thing was that they deliver them in a pizza box.

  27. 27

    I use inknburn for my t-shirt printing. they seem to be the only direct to garment printer around here (California, USA). VERY High quality compared to just screen printing.

  28. 28

    This is an astonishingly awesome selection of good material for designers and enthusiasts. Excellent post

  29. 29

    A lot of these tutorials are incorrect for screen printing. You should be separating your colors in the channels palette ( for screen printing ) not in layers in photoshop. Esp if you are mass producing shirts via screen printing. In Illustrator you be using spot colors in your swatches palette. Take it from someone in the buiz for nine years, and not the web kiddies. And of course most don’t talk about balancing art as in how big should it be, compared to sizes of shirt, wrap around, etc. you kids are getting too spoiled with DTG . Talk to the people at for the real deal.

  30. 30

    This is an absolutely brilliant resource, many thanks!

    I’ve been teaching myself how to bring the ideas that pour from my cranium to reality for some months now, and I’ll be at the stage of starting a website within a fortnight.

    One question I had though, I’ve done all my designs on Photoshop and they’re all around A3 in size, and this is a nightmare when it comes to submitting to any of the above sites using their templates. Is there an easy way to re-size/drag and drop that I’m missing??

    Many thanks folks!


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