Top 8 Tips For Designing Shirts Like A Pro

Designing shirts that everyone will love and wear is easier said than done. Shirts are like blank canvasses that require creative juices and unique ideas—and with the number of styles, designs, and colours you can incorporate into it, designing a piece can be very challenging.   

The process of designing shirts is complex, but with the right strategies, you can create shirts that will become powerful marketing tools for your business. Whether you’re planning to design shirts for your customers or employees or your own, well-designed shirts can create opportunities for you to promote your business no matter where you are.   

Here are eight tips to help you design shirts like a pro:  

Assess Why You Need To Design A Shirt In The First Place  

Before you start looking for a t shirt design tool or look into other shirts for inspiration, assess why you’re designing one in the first place. Are you designing shirts to market the launch of new products or services? Do you plan to use them to invite people to an upcoming event? Or perhaps use it solely for fashion?   

Once you’ve assessed why you’re designing shirts, list down the themes and personality traits you want your brand to express in the shirt. Do you want people to think your brand is conservative or loud? Affordable or elegant? For the old or young?   

Having answers to all of these questions will help you streamline your efforts as you’ll know which design is appropriate to use. This will also prevent you from using designs that deviate from your purpose of designing shirts.   

Know Your Target Audience   

After you’ve determined your designing and printing objectives, it’s time to learn about your target audience. It is one of the most crucial steps in the process because designing shirts that don’t appeal to your target audience will put all of your efforts down the drain.   

Before you proceed, you should have answers to these questions:   

1. Who will wear your shirts?   

2. What types of hobbies or interests does your target audience have?   

3. How does your target audience dress?   

4. Does your target audience prefer a specific design on the shirts they wear? If yes, what are these designs?   

It’s essential to answer all of these questions to ensure that the shirts you’ll design are appealing to your target audience. For instance, if your target audience is young professionals, you need to ensure that your shirts have colours and texts wearable in the corporate setup.   

Moreover, designing shirts according to the needs and wants of your target audience will also create a more significant impact on your marketing efforts. It will put your business in a better position in the industry, allowing you to retain old customers and gain new ones.   

Explore Your Concept Early   

By this time, you’ll likely have an idea of the design that’ll work best on your shirt. And while it can be very tempting to start the designing process on actual shirts, don’t. Rushing the process will only result in half-baked results and wasted resources.   

Before designing the shirts, sketch them first on paper and make several variations. If possible, have other people look into your design and be open to any criticisms. Change or improve your design whenever necessary.   

Exploring your concept beforehand is a great way to discover your creative options and minimize problems down the road. When people find your design too tacky, you can make adjustments early and prevent printing shirts that look unappealing or don’t serve their purpose.   

Keep It Simple  

You can add any design and colour to the shirts you’re designing, but this doesn’t mean you should. Using too many elements in your shirt design will make the print look disorganized and unprofessional. A busy design is also very stressful to the eyes, which may discourage some people from wearing your shirts.   

When designing shirts, remember to keep it simple. Ideally, you should choose one imagery or message and highlight that on your shirt design. Remove any other design elements that don’t support that image or message. You can even try designing using black and white colours only and only add more colours when truly necessary.   

Be Careful With Humour  

Adding pick-up lines and jokes to the design of your shirt always seems like a good idea. Bringing humour through your shirt design is a great way to stand out from the competition and connect with your target audience at an emotional level, right? Well, yes, to some extent, but you need to be cautious.   

Adding humour to your shirt design can provide several benefits, but you need to be careful, as going overboard will only do more harm than good. For example, adding green jokes to your shirt design might seem fun and harmless, but these can actually offend some people. This is especially true if you’re going to produce shirts in another city or country.   

If you want to add humour, make sure that you’re going it in a very subtle way. Do some research online, so you’ll know how successful designers were able to strike the perfect balance of humour and high-quality designs on their shirts.   

Pick The Right Colours  

Colour is a powerful tool that can significantly affect the success of your design. Regardless of how detailed your imagery or message is, if you fail to use the right colours, your shirt design won’t grab the attention of your target audience. In worse cases, your shirt design won’t help you achieve your set goals.   

To design shirts like a pro, learn about colour theory. It is the study of the relationships and effects of colours to help you determine which colours look good together. Having in-depth knowledge about colour theory will help you understand how specific colours control the style and impact of your design.   

When designing shirts, you have three basic colour types to choose from:   

  • Monochromatic colours: These colours share the same base colours but differ in brightness and saturation. For example, you can use different shades of green in your shirt design and then print it in emerald-coloured shirts.   
  • Monochromatic colours work well if your target audience wants to wear a low-key piece of clothing material but would still want to look sharp while wearing it. This colour type also simplifies a busy design, making it easier on the eyes.   
  • Analogous colours: These colours are adjacent on the colour wheel. The most common analogous colours are red, orange, and purple. These colours are found in the same quarter of the colour wheel.   
  • Using analogous colours is a great way to add pops of colours to your design without going overboard. This colour combination is also ideal if your target audience wants to wear something low-key but with flashes of colours.   
  • Complementary colours: Colours found on the opposite sides of the colour wheel are complementary colours. For example, blue and orange, green and red, and yellow and purple. These colours stand out against each other but also complement each other. These colours don’t clash or look too busy when used together.   
  • If you want your target audience to wear shirts that easily get noticed, incorporate complementary colours into your design. This is also a great colour option if you want your design to deliver a strong message.   

Benchmark From Your Competitors  

Using shirts to market a business, products, and services is no longer new. Your competitors might have been using shirts as a marketing tool for years. But instead of seeing this as a threat, why not use the experience of your competitors to your advantage? Take note of the design they’ve been using and assess which one works and doesn’t.   

Benchmarking your competitors’ shirt designs is a must when designing your shirts. Since you have similar target audiences, knowing what shirt designs work for your competitors will give you an idea to make yours better.   

For example, if your competitors designed highly colourful graphic shirts months ago and most became stale on the shelves, you’ll know which design to avoid. This will save you tons of resources from designing and printing shirts that don’t appeal to your target audience.   

Source A Good Printer  

The quality of your design is only as good as your printer. Developing a robust design—one that’s perfect for your target audience and delivers a clear message—will be useless if the printer can’t deliver high-quality results.   

If you’re going to outsource a printing company, take the time to assess your options. Make sure to request samples of finished shirts and not design images to gauge whether the company can meet your expectations. Regardless of how cheap and fast their services are, never work with a printing company unless you’re able to see some of their finished products.   


Designing shirts is a long process, so don’t pressure yourself into developing the best design overnight. Carefully follow the tips mentioned in this article, and don’t forget to take breaks whenever necessary. Slow and steady is often the best way to go when designing shirts.    

February 20, 2023
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