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When creating a new t-shirt design, your first thought is to go ALL OUT, right? You’ve seen advertisements from custom t-shirt printers that state you can use unlimited colors in your artwork, multiple screens, add names and numbers, and even have your design printed on numerous locations of the garment. Letting your creative side out during your design process can be an entertaining experience, but it’s also very easy to get carried away. As appealing as all the different options available may be, keeping your design simple can be extremely easy on the eyes and on the wallet. At the end of the day, you want people to remember your logo. You want to create something that is not only impressive, but impactful. Using too many variables can jeopardize that. Like you have been told all your life, less truly is more.

Color Count -Managing the Number of Colors in your Artwork

Let’s start with an example. Both t-shirts below read similar messages. Though Image A may have more color and complexity, you’ll have to agree that Image B is more legible.

color count

Image A is a 5-color design. Not only do the amount of colors in your artwork determine your cost per shirt, it also determines how busy your design will look. If the designer went with a 1-color design as in Image B, the outcome of the shirt would have been easier to read, therefore creating a greater impact on those viewing the shirt. By no means do we intend to say too much color in a design is a bad thing. It is the actual location of where the color is being printed that could turn out to be a problem. For example, the rainbow splatter colors on the front of Image A would look much better on the back of the shirt by itself, instead of covering up the text on the front side.

Location Limitation -Managing the Number of Designs on Each Shirt

The shirt below is a great example of how too many design locations can cause a negative effect.

location limitation

There is nothing wrong with having a front and a back logo. Sometimes you will want each side of the shirt to say different things, or have totally different designs. It isn’t until you start to become repetitive, that the shirt becomes distracting. If you look at the image above, you will notice the same logo is printed twice in two different locations. Not only is this an unnecessary cost, but it takes away from the meaning of the logo itself, not to mention the design on the upper back, which doesn’t seem to have a place. A better suggestion may be to include only the crossed bats at the upper back in a small print with the current year/season dates.

Font Legibility -Choosing the Smartest Fonts for your Design

The shirts below show the difference between legible, and illegible fonts.

font overload

Sometimes you will create a design that includes excessive verbiage. There are thousands of different fonts right at your fingertips and you can still be creative without your design becoming too busy. For example, the “Stay Weird” font above is fashionable and fun, without looking confusing. Using multiple font styles can add a visually appealing effect, but only if the words remain legible. The logo on the shirt on the right, consists of numerous words, all in separate fonts. Had the designer stuck with one or two fonts, the message of the artwork might not have turned unclear. The text in a design is usually an important detail, so you want to make sure people can read it clearly!

Same Screen, Different Ink -Mix it Up
varied ink

Say you only have one logo but you’re wanting to have some variety in your printed order for you to sell them online. Instead of paying to have more screens burned with additional logos, you can use the same screen and change the colors of the ink. Another great idea would be to order different colors of the shirts you’re using, to produce different color combinations. This will give your website some variety with only using one design, one color, and one style of shirt.

Save Some Details -Don’t Give it all Away

Providing some educational insight into your design is beneficial to your branding. However, it’s also a smart idea to keep a little information for the world to investigate for themselves. Providing too much detail about what your logo represents, can take away from the logo itself. You want your logo to be appealing and interesting on the eyes but you don’t want people reading your shirt like a book. If the design is intriguing enough, people will do their own research to understand your logo a little better. The more simple the design, the better!

Simple Logos with Big Personality -A Little Goes a Long Way
simple logos

There is no better payoff than being clever. People appreciate a serious design with a little added humor or creative twist. Instead of taking time to think of a drawn out and elaborate logo, use that time to think of how you can give your brand a smart and catchy look to it. Not only will your design become more unique, but it will become easier for people to relate to and recognize.

Logo Familiarity -Knowing the Brand by the Logo
familiar logos

Most companies have a “type” logo and a graphic logo, or image. When the title of your brand is recognized just by looking at your logo, you’ve made it big time. Keeping your logo separate from the actual name of your company or brand, is genius. Not only does having the logo separate from the text make it easier to read, but it gives the audience another detail to familiarize themselves with. For example, by looking at the three logos above, you will automatically recognize the names of their corresponding brands. Not only do they represent extremely successful companies, but notice how simple the logos are. This is a very powerful effect and extremely beneficial.

Use Halftones -The 2-Color Illusion

Say you want to have a multiple color design printed but it just won’t be possible with your budget. This could be a time to use halftones. Printing in halftones is a technique where shading takes place through the use of dots, creating a gradient looking effect. These dots can be of all shapes and sizes. Using this technique will allow the ink shade to appear lighter than if it were printed normally. You can also layer halftones on top of each other to change the shade or tone. Printing in halftones will give your design that 2-color look, with only the use of one single color of ink.

Utilizing the Garment Color -Ink Illusion
garment color

Another smart way to give your shirt the appearance of having more colors than it is actually printed in, is to use the color of the shirt in your design. For example, the shirt above is only a 1-color design, yet it looks like a 2-color design because the color of the shirt has been used as the text in the logo. This is a smart trick to remember when you don’t have the budget to go crazy with different colors.

Maintain your Font Count -Avoiding the Ransom Note Effect
too many fonts

Including multiple font styles in your logo is perfectly fine, as long as the design remains legible and not too crowded. Try to pick fonts that still compliment each other while being different and fun. Adding too many types of text could turn your once impressive design into a crazy looking ransom note. The key is to stick to only 2-3 fonts in order to avoid the dreaded word jumble.

The Envelope Effect -Enhance the Main Text Element
envelope effect

There is an effect in the design world called Envelope which distorts and reshapes a specific object or text in a design. Giving a warped look to one of the main elements in your design, can draw the eye to that piece of information first. It makes the selected element appear more visually appealing and interesting. Your best bet is to use the Envelope function on the name of your brand. This technique will make sure the name stands out amongst the rest of the design while giving it an an edge.

Make it Convertible-Alterations for Media
social icons

An extremely important part of designing your logo is to make sure it can be easily altered for different media purposes such as web, embroidery, business cards, banners, and stamps. In today’s world, we are all about social media. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are the most popular networks to advertise your new brand’s logo. Say you create a complex design that looks awesome on your shirts, but what happens to that logo when you try to upload it to the web? It will most likely become illegible and compact, making it impossible to make out and recognize. Creating a simple design will appear visually perfect no matter what type of media it is on. Avoiding major changes to your design is key.

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