Want to design your own t-shirt for yourself, your company, rock band or sports team? Let our quick tips help you create the perfect custom tee shirt design.

The idea

First you need to come up with a concept, general idea or theme that resonates with you and also your audience. Consider your style, hobbies and interests. Modern? Traditional? What colours appeal to you? Peruse the web, explore the outdoors, look at magazines and talk to people. If you have a logo or brand colours then the design should consider those too.

Collect all your ideas for design styles, fonts and colours and add them to a real or virtual inspiration board to help direct your thoughts.


Your audience

Who will be wearing your custom shirt? An ornate tee with a bleeding skull on it may not be appropriate for a kindergarten sports event, but perfect for a rock band.  Consider the age, sex, sense of humour and interests of your audience, as well as both where and when they will be wearing it. This design reflects you and your business or team and will be seen be a larger audience – you want to make the correct impression on them!


 The design

Once you have some ideas, sketch out the designs on paper, or use design software such as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign.

The tendency is to make your design ornate and elaborate but simple modern designs can be just as effective, and easier to read. Use illustrations, text or include a photograph of your own, or purchase photos from the Internet sites like Getty Images.

Be wary of copying trends like Pokemon or Justin Bieber, as most commercial imagery, brand and design is copyright protected and by duplicating them you could get into legal hot water.  And once the trend has passed your  personalized shirt may no longer be worn! Be inspired by trends but don’t copy them –  try to create something unique.


The colour scheme

Remember the t-shirt itself has a colour which will be your background, even if that’s black or white. So what colour tee will make your design look its best? Will some of your design get lost on the t-shirt? Lighter colours may get lost on a yellow t-shirt whereas darker colours will stand out against it.



Think about how the design will look on your custom t-shirt. Will it only be a logo on the pocket or upper chest? Or something that takes up space on both the front and back? On the arms and over the shoulders? Or will you use multiple areas such as image on the front, logo on the sleeve, and wording on the back?


Printing method

When t-shirt printing, there are a variety of choices in decoration methods and styles that can give your t-shirt a different look and feel. Choose from classic embroidery, silk screening, sublimation, full colour heat applications, laser cut vinyl or more. Click here to read more about the different decoration methods available.



The more complex, more printed locations of the design on the shirt, and the more colours in your design generally the more expensive it is to apply. Fine details and subtle gradients may need application techniques that can cost more money and not look the way you imagined.  Pricing also varies depending on your print method – embroidery can cost more than silk screening which is generally economical. So when designing your tee-shirt bear these aspects in mind if cost is an issue.



Sketch out the design and add it virtually to a photo, or physically print it out and tape it to an actual t-shirt to see how it will look once applied to the shirt. Then make any final revisions before taking your design for t-shirt printing.


Need help with a design? Let our custom artwork design experts bring your imagination to life!