Written by Rachel Lowenstein
Artists and graphic designers spend hours, even days, on creating the perfect look for companies. Whether it is an advertisement, packaging, a logo, or even a t-shirt, a lot of talent and a lot more time is put into the process of effective design. Thus, the mere thought of constructing a practical, yet provocative, design for a company, personal, or promotional custom t-shirts can seem daunting. What programs should I use? How do I learn how to use those programs? What if I absolutely cannot draw? These question, though perhaps discouraging, all have simple answers that can turn a design-rookie into a compelling computer artist who can apply their skills to their own t-shirt designs!
Where To Start?
The first thing any designer must consider is the media he is going to use. With screen printing, it is important to use computer programs for high-quality designs on your t-shirt. Popular programs used by graphic designers include: Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW, Corel Paint Shop Pro, and Adobe Photoshop. Corel products are significantly less expensive, however, most designers prefer the superior capability of Adobe products. However, both companies offer free trials at their websites if you only need to use it for a one-time design! If you absolutely do not consider yourself computer savvy, some companies, like DesignAShirt.com, offer design-consultations. These consultations offer customers the chance to get a personalized, original design without the customer having to think creatively.
How Do I Use These Programs?
The basics of computer drawing programs are not hard to learn. To draw in Illustrator, you can use the pencil tool or the more accurate pen tool for tight, crisp lines. There is also the type tool to easily insert copy, as well as the shapes tool to apply interesting shapes to your design. Both Corel Draw and Adobe Illustrator tutorials are available on numerous websites on the internet, with basic drawing to complex rendering to make understanding these programs exponentially easier.
Basic Design Principles
Now that you know how to run the program you are using, how do you know what kind of design you want to create for your custom t-shirt? Keeping basic design principles, that every accomplished designer uses, in mind can help you in copious ways. First, ask yourself, “What is the message of my t-shirt?” Is it a corporate bank t-shirt or is it a sorority fundraiser t-shirt? Is it targeted for children or for adults? T-shirts for children can be brighter with fun fonts and shapes. On the other hand, if your target audience is adults, try to keep the colors limited and the font easier to read. Colors that are dependable and inoffensive include blue, black, and white. If you want your design to catch eyes in an anything but subtle way, go for red, orange, or even yellow. Also, consider if you want the shirt to be more functional or more fashionable. Last, keep in mind your demographic (children, adults, teenagers, there is a whole range of groups of people to target your shirt to.) Remember that design is only limited to your imagination and that these are not rules, but mere suggestions to steer you in the right direction! Your options are unlimited!