How to Design Your Own Tee Shirts

Use a computer to create a design for your T-shirt.

Photo: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

You've got a story to tell that registers your dissatisfaction with guys, work or life. A therapist might help, but counseling is an expensive and time-consuming way to work out frustrations. Instead, pour your angst into a creative activity that won't drain your checking account, offers a fun diversion and can even garner a boatload of respect from folks who had no idea you were capable of such clever designs.


Look for inspiration by taking yourself on a shopping expedition. Hit up tee shirt boutiques. Examine the ways artists use stretch knits as canvases to screen their designs. Return home from your sleuthing mission with ideas, enthusiasm and a few snapshots of particularly interesting tee shirt examples you found along the way. Use the best designs to inspire your original ideas.


Boot your computer. Roam through copyright-free clip art libraries to isolate images that best reflect your taste, personality and interests. Download drawings to your desktop that have the most potential to morph into original tee shirt art. Retouch, colorize or enhance the images if you like to work with the special effects found on your favorite software's tool palette.


Research inspirational, whimsical and/or poetic phrases to complement the images you've chosen for your tee. Author your own if your brain is brimming with sarcasm, puns or quips. Pair art and phrases until you've got a bunch of ideas. For example, you're crusading about school drop-out rates, so match a Tyrannosaurus Rex sketch with a message like, "Stay in School: Look What Happened to the Last Lizard Brains that Roamed the Earth."


Come up with a bunch of tee shirt-appropriate designs and text accompaniments. Pick the one you like best for your first layout. Measure the surface area of a favorite tee shirt to determine your design area. Open a new document in a word processing or page layout program such as MSWord, InDesign or QuarkXpress. Import the image as is or import and enlarge the graphic if it's too small for your shirt dimensions.


Copy and paste your creative phrase to your design document. Experiment with different typefaces. Move the image and text around, putting your phrase under, over and across the picture. Try a radical re-configuration, like replicating multiple Rex images to create a chorus line of dinosaurs destined to line up across your chest with the statement beneath their lizard feet. You can't come up with too many versions, so keep going.


Output a copy of your tee shirt design to see how it looks on paper. Make adjustments as necessary. Upload the finished design to the tee shirt fabricator you've chosen. Include a note reinforcing instructions you gave him when you placed your printing order. For example: "Remember to print the dinosaurs with metallic inks." This may seem like a redundancy, but if you need the fabricator to re-print your job gratis for failing to follow your instructions, you'll want to keep this note handy.

Things You'll Need


1.Clip Art






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