Photoshop is the default program for designers looking to render raster based images with special effects. Since its inception in 1988, this design program has infiltrated its way into common language as a verb describing any photo which has been manipulated. It’s been photoshopped! And it keeps getting more sophisticated as new versions are released with enhanced features and new developments. It used to require a significant initial investment and designers would hold off upgrading as long as possible because the cost was a barrier. Now an individual can purchase a monthly plan for as little as $19.99 a month for an annual plan or $29.99 a month for short term use. Either way, it’s vastly more affordable in the Cloud. And a membership means you never have to upgrade to the latest version because it’s consistently the latest version.
With that introduction you might think we’re affiliates with Photoshop, that’s not the case, we just love the cool things you can do in Photoshop to make brilliant t-shirt designs. So here are some tips and tricks to take your next t-shirt design project to the next level of professionalism. For these tutorials it’s really important to remember to work with a canvas preset to a minimum of 300 DPI for t-shirt printing and to keep in mind these design ideas will require the digital print method..
This special effect takes some testing to find the right background and font that will pair nicely in a combination. Photos that have a lot of fine detail probably won’t turn out like you hoped. It’s imperative to start with a very high resolution photo. A bold, fat font is recommended to provide enough “real estate” to make out the background photo.
- Open your image in Photoshop
- Unlock the background layer by double clicking on the image. A dialogue box will open, click okay.
- Duplicate the layer by right clicking and choosing “Duplicate Layer.” This is a copy, turn off the original layer by clicking on the eye icon next to it.
- Make sure your new layer is on top of the original by dragging the layer above the original in the layers toolbox.
- Choose the text tool and the font you’re using and type you text. The color of the text won’t matter. When it looks how you want, drag that layer below the image.
- Highlight the copy layer by clicking on it in the layers toolbox. Right click and choose “Create Clipping Mask.”
- You can then manipulate the size of the text or the size of the background picture until you get the exact effect you want.
- When you get it how you want it, you can merge the layers under “Layers, merge layers.”
You’re ready to export for a custom digitally printed t-shirt. This same method can be used for shapes. Try experimenting with textures too. The effects are limitless since digitally printed t-shirts are printed pretty much the same way you would print out a picture with your personal printer.
Here are some additional examples:
There are fonts that simulate fire but when you’re looking for high impact, nothing but the real thing will do. Here’s a tutorial that will heat up your design.
- Change your background color to black and create a document inside Photoshop, 4000 pixels wide is a reasonable size.
- Pick a font for your project, like the previous tutorial, a fat, bold font will provide a lot of space to show off the effect however a serif font will allow the fire effect to be extended to the baseline of the text.
- Select the text tool and type your text in white then commit your changes by clicking the checkmark in the upper navigation.
- Resize your text to fill most of the canvas with the transform tool or CTRL/COMMAND T to activate the tool.
- With the text layer selected, you’ll now need to rasterize the text. Before rasterizing make sure you’re text is spelled correctly and formatted the way you want it to look for the entire project. Access rasterize text under Layers and choose “Rasterize Type.” Your text has now been transformed into pixels rather than text.
- With the Text Layer selected, navigate to Image and choose Image, Rotation, Rotate 90 CW.
- Next go to Filter, Stylize, and choose Wind. This will open a canvas where you’ll verify “Wind” is checked and then choose “From the Left,” click OK. The changes will be hard to see so you’ll need to reapply the same filter multiple times to give the wind a more pronounced effect. Repeat until you feel it looks right.
Now we’re going to rotate the canvas back to its original position by navigating to Image, Rotation, Rotate 90 CCW.
- We’re going to mute the streaks by applying a Gaussian Blur to the image. Go to Filters, Blur, Gaussian Blur. A toolbox will open up where you’ll need to adjust the settings. Make sure you have preview checked so you can see the changes you make on the canvas in real time before you commit. Change the pixel radius to what you think makes it look like authentic flames.
- Now go to Filter, Liquefy which will overtake your screen. Click on Forward Warp Tool in the upper left hand navigation. On the right, change your settings to Brush 100, Brush Density 50, and Brush Pressure to 100. Now you’re ready to warp the wispy streaks you made with the wind filter. Click and drag short distances left to right to drag out the wisps randomly. Include the wisps coming from your font’s serifs.
- It may be difficult to see at this point, you can click OK and check your results and then go back to manipulate more by accessing Filter, Liquefy again. You can also change the effect by using multiple brush sizes.
- Now we’re going to add color. Right click on your text layer and choose Blending Options.
- Choose Outer Glow and change the color box to #f20d0a, this is a fiery red. Click OK.
- Click on Color Overlay and change the color box to #f2820a, a fiery orange. Click OK.
- Click on Satin and change color box to #933110, a deep rust color. Click OK.
- Click on Inner Glow and change color box to #dfbc34, a smoldering yellow. Click OK.
You’re now ready to export for custom t-shirt printing with realistic looking fire text to add to your custom t-shirt design. We recommend printing this effect on a black t-shirt for maximum impact. You can upload straight to our design studio . If you do print on a black t-shirt delete the black background before exporting.
Here’s an additional example printed on a black t-shirt.