T Shirt Printing Design Guide

Creating unique and fitting designs for printing to t shirts can be quite different from the usual print design fare. The surface you plan to display your print on and the materials and method you chose to create the print both add physical limits to what is possible. Remember you are now dealing with screen printing inks and fabric! While a design might look great on paper the process of screen printing can result in wildly varying quality and color.

The first thing you need to consider when planning your t shirt screen printing design is the number of colors you want to use. The screen printing process is monochromatic by nature, but it can be repeated multiple times to add additional colors to your image. The tone and opacity of colors will also impact your choice of ink but be aware that you’ll never get an exact color match as you might in conventional printing.

The T-shirt as a Canvas:
Your t-shirt color, fabric and size will influence the final look and feel of any inks and design applied to it. If you are just starting out with screen printing then it’s best to stick with a medium sized, white cotton t-shirt, as this will present the least challenging surface to screen print onto both in terms of design and physical properties.
While background color is a more conventional design challenge, bear in mind that stronger t-shirt colors will show through water based inks, so design appropriately or use thick mixed plastisols which can cover even the darkest base colors.

You should also carefully consider size and placement of your design. A conventional centre front print will avoid most problems, but be wary how you stretch the t shirt fabric when screen printing. More unusual placement might require screen printing before the t-shirt is stitched together!