Creating T-Shirt Designs

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by Barnum, Mar 1, 2009.

  1. Barnum macrumors newbie

    Sep 4, 2008
    I would like to design some t-shirts as a birthday present for someone using Adobe Illustrator but I don't know anything about printing on clothing.

    Laser and ink transfer printing are kind of cheap looking, especially the kind you see at shopping centers. I would like something that is durable & won't fade and I don't know if iron-on will cut it. Should I stick to die-cut or silk screening process instead? If so, I would prefer to send it to a printer.

    A couple of questions off the top of my head -

    • What are the guidelines for prepping artwork to a printer?
    • Are gradients allowed or should the be converted in halftone dots, or avoided altogether and use solid colors?
    • What's the limit of number of colors to use?
    • What file format should the design be saved in (.ai, .jpg, .pdf, .psd, .tif)?
    • What's the minimum size for line thickness or detail for printing at 100%?
    • If I send my artwork to places like or do I retain the copyright?

    Any recommendations or links to web sites would be appreciated.
  2. decksnap macrumors 68040


    Apr 11, 2003
    Every printer has different requirements... I would work with them to get this information.

    The less colors, the less screens, the less money. Although if you have more than four colors I imagine they'll screen in 4cp anyway.
  3. Lau Guest

    decksnap's right – the specifications and file types vary hugely. You're best looking at what each website or printer needs.

    Although screenprinting looks great, it's expensive unless you know you're going to sell a lot of t-shirts, so sites like Mysoti are really good for smaller runs or one-offs like you need.

    I started a thread about this a while ago here that you might find useful and in the last post you can see some closeups of the shirts from MySoti. It doesn't look exactly like screenprinting but I was really pleased and you can use more colours and it doesn't have to be a vector file.

    If you use them you do retain all copyright, whereas on Threadless you do sign a lot of the rights over to them. It's your call – you get paid a lot more upfront from Threadless (if your design gets selected), but you lose your design. If you're doing it for a birthday present Mysoti's definitely your best bet as you can upload it and order it straight away. Threadless is more for t-shirts that other people would want to buy.

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