3 Tips For Mistake-Free T Shirt Printing

3 Tips For Mistake-Free T Shirt Printing

So you’ve decided to make a custom t-shirt for your event, your business, or for a client. You know what you want and you’ve got it all drawn up, but now the question is, how can you get it to turn out right? You’ve heard horror stories from your friends or colleagues about great designs turning out awful after production and you don’t want to fall into the same trap. Here are a few things you absolutely need to know before you hand your design to a garment printing or embroidery service.

Think about the Colors

This is the easiest thing to check for and to fix. You should avoid putting more than 3 different colors into a design (unless you know exactly what you’re doing), two tends to be better. Your design should look interesting even in black and white, especially if it’s for your business and you intend to reuse it for other things (some of which might not be in color).

Have a Vector or High Resolution Raster Image

Using a low resolution .jpg to try to print a larger picture is like trying to build a snow man out of ice cubes. It just doesn’t work. Ideally you will have a vector (.eps or .svg) file which can be rescaled to any size without becoming pixelated since it doesn’t have pixels. If you don’t want to bother with a vector file you need to have a high resolution raster image (.jpg, .png, .bmp). If you only have a low resolution raster file you should probably look into…

Making a Vector Image

If you have illustration software like Adobe Illustrator or Corel you can make a vector file by taking your smaller raster image and tracing it with a pen tool as shown in the tutorial below.

Making a High Resolution Raster File

The problem with a raster file is that the pixels in it are all the information you have. If you make it bigger you just get bigger pixels. Zooming in and “enhancing” it like they do in the movies to any size you like is technology that simply doesn’t exist any more than a Star Trek replicator. To get a higher resolution you need to make a higher resolution in the first place. There are a few programs out there to try to fill in the missing data by guessing what’s supposed to be there when you increase the size, but naturally they’re only of limited use.

Show it to a Professional

The people who are going to make your shirt look at these types of designs all day and will be able to assist you. Show them your design and ask for feedback before you submit it. If you don’t ask for an honest opinion you will likely just get polite smiles, which is to be expected from people who need your business, so reassure them that you don’t need to be coddled.

Alice Jenkins is a graphic designer and blogger. She enjoys blogging about her work and enjoys providing insight into the design world for the uninitiated. She currently writes for youdesignit.com, where you can make custom design t shirts online.

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(4) responses

Henri Allain

December 4, 2012

A simple design can be cheap and effective advertising for small businesses, since lots of people will wear a free t shirt they’re given with a local company on the front.



February 15, 2015

Hii there , Nice post , i have a question ;

Is it possible to cut a design from t-shirt image of any size file & print it on a shirt ?

Further more , can we really print any t-shirt design we find online , via image cropping , then copy & pasting .

Please help me on that would be really greatful to you.

thanks .


John Ferrell

February 22, 2017

I like that you said that we shouldn’t put more than 3 colors in our design. If I was going to print something then I would want to know that it wouldn’t be too crazy. It might be a good idea to get professional design help.


Susan Lane

March 17, 2017

Very nice tips. I just started learning how to design t shirts by following this guide: http://www.coreldraw.com/en/pages/sell-t-shirts/ but since I am a beginner, I wanted to learn more from professionals and get some tips and advice, and yours help a lot, thank you! :)


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